Knowing how individuals see and understand your brand empowers you to make decisions that drive your image and customer perception. Our branding experts here at 320 Digital discuss the importance of customer perception and how we can help you build a brand that communicates who you are.
What is Customer Perception?
Customer perception is how your business or brand is viewed outside of what you say about it. It’s shaped by every interaction –– whether online or offline –– that you have with customers, potential customers, or individuals in the community. Every engagement provides an opportunity for you to present yourself and build your customer perception intentionally and strategically.
Personal Conduct and Real-World Engagement Influences Customer Perception
Every single action you take as a business owner will impact your brand –– whether or not those actions are related to business-specific decisions. There will always be a connection between who you are and what you do.
For example, if you’re wearing branding for your company, it’s important that you act in a way that positively represents your brand. If you’re at a conference, it’s important that you and your employees represent your brand in a positive way. Conferences provide valuable educational and networking opportunities. They also allow you to promote your brand to partners and consumers alike. Conduct yourself responsibly.
The same is true if you have a brick and mortar. Your team members represent your brand both in-store and out in the community. Stress the importance of responsible conduct, because shoppers connect your actions and your employees’ actions with your brand –– even outside of business hours.
Online Engagement Shapes Customer Perception
Your online presence plays perhaps the most significant role in customer perception of your brand. Everything you do online – from social media to your website – plays into the perception of your brand or business. If you aren’t strategic about your online presence, you won’t have control over how consumers perceive your brand.
This oversight creates significant problems for companies. They establish a brand and understand the brand and what it represents, but consumers perceive the brand in a different way. Strategic branding through your online presence eliminates the disconnect between how a company sees its brand versus how the consumers see the brand.
Below we list a few factors to consider when creating your brand strategy.
What Does Your Brand Stand For?
Brands that stand for something attract consumers. Branding is all about perception, and shoppers want to put their money towards a product and a company that they believe in, that aligns with their values, and that holds strong convictions about how and why they do what they do.
Setting yourself apart from your competition is crucial for your success. And perhaps the most effective way to stand out is to stand for something. Through a quick search of sites competing in your industry, you’ll likely find much of the same messaging, the same jargon, and even the same design. The majority of consumers don’t want to see that. They aren’t moved by copycat content. People –– the people you’re targeting –– want to see a business or brand that stands for something.
According to one study, 68 percent of consumers expect brands to be clear about their values. That number increases depending on a consumer’s ethnicity or social demographic, with minority groups having higher expectations of brands speaking out on current issues.
Whatever you stand for, make sure it’s clearly communicated in your branding.
Brand Storytelling with Custom Content
Your website is more than a placeholder for basic company information. Your site represents your brand and tells the story of your company. It should be a representation of your offline activities conveyed through your design and content.
Your site’s content is a driving force in customer perception of your brand and enables you to earn trust. With quality content, you prove that you provide value to the consumer.
Content is the biggest factor that affects customer perception of your value. Unfortunately, it’s also a factor that most companies ignore. Because content is often not prioritized, companies create generic content for the reader on a generic site with a generic template. They pay for a website package and expect it to accomplish more than it’s capable of.
Instead of paying for a content package that doesn’t deliver, create custom content for your user. Below are three types of content that help you tell your brand story while positively shaping customer perception.
- In-Depth Content – As a brand, you must create helpful, quality content written to and for your audience. This content should provide value to your readers while showcasing your brand and what you stand for. In-depth content gives users the information they’re searching for. Thorough content that provides helpful solutions proves to consumers that your brand is both powerful and valuable.
- Thought Leadership Content – Create content that proves your authority and expertise in your field. Thought leadership content promotes your company as a go-to resource. By publishing as a thought leader, you communicate helpful information to your audience, establish the value of your brand, and engage with consumers.
- Content Showcasing the Value You Provide – Your content should achieve multiple goals. You want to provide value to the reader. You want to establish yourself as an expert and authority. But your content should also showcase and exemplify the value your brand provides.
Thin, generic content harms your brand perception more than it helps. It would be better not to create content than to create content that is not valuable or of poor quality.
The Value in Authentic and Accurate Messaging
Consumers are smart. They will quickly identify when branding is inconsistent or doesn’t live up to a company’s claims. Customer perception is heavily influenced by design and content, but messaging plays a crucial role as well.
Avoid using subjective terms and phrases to describe your company. Claiming that you are the “best” in your industry doesn’t carry weight with today’s consumers. That term and those like it are irrelevant. They don’t address a user’s emotions or communicate that you truly are the “best” at what you do.
Claiming you’re the best and actually being the best are two very different things. Do you have the data to back up your claim? And by what standards are you measuring the data?
The same can be said of touting your exceptional customer service. You should have measurable and consistent standards by which you can make this claim. Only then does this type of messaging compel the consumer.
Brand Consistency is a Multi-Channel Effort
Your website is one engagement point. You have many other engagement points that must synch up. If you aren’t consistent across all channels, your branding and perception won’t hold up. And if your customer perception is lacking, so will the success of your company and brand.
Choosing the right digital marketing agency has a huge effect on customer perception of your brand and your presence online. Working with a firm that builds custom sites, design, and content for your company empowers you to promote your brand in a way that’s consistent with your vision no matter where your brand exists.
At 320 Digital, we have decades of experience building successful brands through custom, strategic website design, content creation, and SEO services. Contact us today to discuss how we can build customer perception of your brand to help you reach your goals.