Understanding your brand is vital if you’re going to make the good decisions your business needs. Your brand is the story your business tells to customers about itself, the understanding they build about who you are from a hundred tiny interactions: not just seeing adverts, but which shops they see your products in, how they feel in their hands, what your customer service agents say when they pick up the phone, and the error messages they find when your website is down. All of those experiences are built into the brand, the aggregate understanding customers carry around with them which, ideally should tell them yours is the business where they want to spend their money.
If you can understand your own brand from a customer’s perspective and see its strengths honestly, you can push it further, and get more results for less. If your marketing rests on strengths your brand has already established, targeted to an audience who know are ripe to respond to those qualities, you can get more results for less investment, so it’s well worth really digging into your brand to learn how people see your business from the outside.
It can be difficult to do this: people aren’t always the best judge of their characters after all. It takes an exceptionally brave person to face up to all their own weaknesses and strengths and foibles, and it can be just as hard with something you’ve built. You’re so close to it, you can never stop seeing what you want it to be like, what you intend it to be like, and get at the truth, which is what people really think of your brand.
To help face this challenge, you need outside help – someone detached from the situation who delivers data, insight and the hard truths you need to build a foundation for your decision making.
A market research firm talks to customers, emails them, calls them, and surveys them to get data you can use to tell what everyone is thinking. The most important tool you’ll be using at first is the brand tracking survey, which asks customers to rate your brand against your rivals using key qualities, and giving feedback on why they think this way. It’s invaluable both as a running health check on your brand, and as a detailed way to check on precisely what it is you’ve managed to build in your customer’s collective understanding.
When you know what people think of as your strengths you can play to them, with marketing, with design, with pricing and new products, leaning into your public perception to make selling your products and services so much slicker.
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