In a nutshell, brand perception is what customers believe a brand, a product, or service represents, not what the company owning the brand says it does.
Brand perception is the result of customer use, experience, functionality, reputation, and word-of-mouth recommendation. Brand perceptions are shaped by experiences, news, media, reviews, and various other factors that cannot be controlled by the brand.
Brand perception examples
The best way to understand brand perceptions is through examples. We will look at positive and negative perceptions to demonstrate how customer opinions can differ based on their knowledge and experiences about brands.
Premium automaker Mercedes-Benz is known for its high-class vehicles. People over 30 and 40 years old remember the golden era of Mercedes, the 1980s and 1990s when their over-engineered super reliable premium cars were innovative, reliable, and desirable.
Consumers introduced to the brand during the late 1990s and early 2000s will remember failed electronics, frequent and expensive servicing, questionable quality, and average design choices. These are a sharp contrast against the positive brand perceptions of older generations.
This broad segment of consumers does not look at Mercedes as the best option – which shows how the company lost market share to BMW, Lexus, and even Toyota.
Mercedes’s brand perceptions are diverse and somewhat polarizing, depending on personal experiences and information heard from trusted sources.
Fast food franchise McDonald’s is the most popular burger brand worldwide for many good reasons. Cheap, fast, and tasty. Despite its popularity, health-conscious people look at McDonald’s food as the epitome of unhealthy eating.
For a Gen-Z teenager, Mcdonald’s might be a fun and affordable place to meet friends and have a bite. For a health-conscious Millennial, McDonald’s might represent everything wrong with eating.
For a healthy eater who still likes fast food, McDonald’s might be the place to go to “sin” when craving a cheeseburger. In this example, the consumer still likes McDonald’s as a brand, and likes the food – but has the perception that their food is unhealthy.
Perceptions and opinions can differ based on personal experiences as well. Rude service, dirty facilities or subpar food can trigger long-term dislike and negative perceptions in a customer, and among people close to that customer.
The brand perceptions of McDonald’s are polarizing – some like it for what it is, while others hate it with a passion.
Some users think that Facebook is everything. In quite a few regions, Facebook means most of the Internet. People run their businesses on Facebook, dating on Facebook, and express themselves on Facebook.
For others, it’s just a platform to keep in touch with people. At the same time, quite some people don’t even care about Facebook and already abandoned social media because they prefer to maintain their human connections in real life.
For a social media manager, Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Ad Manager is a work tool. They might think about it entirely differently as regular Facebook users do.
For privacy-conscious people, especially activists, Facebook is the ultimate evil that violates privacy in multiple ways.
For the vast majority of consumers, Gucci is a premium quality fashion brand. For less affluent people who like fashion, owning Gucci items is the expression of personal success – sort of a status symbol.
For other people, Gucci is meaningless.
Brand perceptions are not owned by the brand
Brand perception is what is in the mind of the customer, instead of what a brand is trying to communicate about itself. Brand and marketing communication tools can shape perceptions and public opinion, but numerous external factors are more impactful.
Public opinion, professional discussions, customer reviews, press, and word-of-mouth cannot be overpowered with marketing tools. The best a company can do to improve its brand perceptions is to monitor those and make targeted actions to eliminate any risks and flaws that can worsen the reputation of the brand.
How to measure brand perceptions?
Brand Auditor offers two ways to measure brand awareness and brand perceptions. One is one-time brand awareness and measurement solution, while the latest feature enables companies to measure brand awareness and brand perceptions continuously, on a day-to-day basis.
The industry-standard method to measure brand perceptions is using mass-feedback opinion surveys. This is a costly exercise, as a sufficient sample from a small market of 1,000,000 potential customers will need at least a 1% sample, which means 10,000 valid responses.
In a brand perceptions survey, respondents will be asked if they have a positive or negative opinion about the audited company. In basic surveys, respondents can provide a yes or no answer.
In more advanced surveys, like what Brand Auditor offers, customers can rate the company from a 1-5 scale. Additionally, survey participants are asked to rate aspects that they like or dislike about a brand.
Based on these responses, our system can visualize insights to highlight the strong and weak aspects of a brand.
To analyze brand perceptions in multiple customer segments simultaneously, multiple feedback-collection campaigns can be targeted to different segments.