Brand Image Basics and Why It Matters to Startups
Brand image is more than just a buzz word. It is what your customers think of you. And when fostered well, a positive brand image can boost your business.
Defining Brand Image
Remember when you were younger, you had a go-to toy despite the numerous others in your room? And when it's your turn to buy a child you love a toy, you know which brand you can trust. Like your favorite toy, this strong connection happens between you and your consumers when you have a well-established or strong brand image.
What is Brand Image?
Your company's brand image is what people think about your business whenever they see your brand's products or any marketing collateral. It may seem simple, but building a positive and consistent brand image involves multiple layers to build a better business-customer relationship. It is similar to how a person develops desirable qualities in others.
Creating a brand's image involves an emotional connection formed by many brand associations—from the quality of your products, the customer experience you provide, and the advocacies you support to your choice of logo, imagery, and colors. Your brand's core beliefs and ideas that people may resonate with affect your brand image, too. That said, successfully creating a positive brand image can easily influence and sway people into trusting and patronizing your business.
But how is it different from brand identity?
Brand Image vs. Brand Identity
Brand image and a brand's identity are often interchanged, but they are distinct components. Your brand image is the good impression of people about your business, while your brand identity is how you want to look in front of your potential customers. And you would want both to align.
For example, if you run a retail shop selling baby clothes and other items, your brand identity may center around visual elements that elicit warmth, comfort, and playfulness. You would likely choose soft pastel shades and feminine designs as part of your brand identity.
Additionally, safety and security are embedded in your product design, and delivering great customer service rounds up the experience. As your target customers connect with these cues, they may perceive your business as a reputable and strong brand they can rely on for their baby's needs—otherwise known as your brand image.
Why is a Strong Brand Image Important?
A positive brand image is the best and most sustainable way to stand out and build sustainable business-customer relationship.
Like how fans flock to celebrities that are special to them because of what they represent, having highly identifiable brand images that evoke a positive connection is enough to make people remember and follow you. And this is especially true in an ever-competitive landscape where customers’ interest is considered a scarcity.
In fact, businesses with a positive brand image can infiltrate all markets. Think Coca-cola, McDonald’s, or Disney. While not everyone’s a patron, many, if not most people, know these brands in a heartbeat.
Now, how does this affect your bottom line?
As your brand image improves, so will your brand value. You can confidently expand your offerings to include products and services that your existing customers will surely love. You can diversify your pricing and add premium options as demand grows. And in effect, your market share increases!
One specific brand that excels in this is Apple, creating a strong brand image that perfectly reflects its brand slogan, “Think Different.” The brand has inculcated anticipation of something innovative and new in the consumers' minds, which leads to excitement. Some may even say that despite backlash, the brand has a cult following due to its solid base of loyal customers.
With trustworthiness and loyalty toward your brand combined, business growth follows. Needless to say, a negative brand image is a sure and quick way to lose your customers. No wonder corporations are quite adamant about protecting and investing in their brand images, and you should, too!
How To Measure Brand Image
Brand images can be abstract. However, you can still quantify them through several nifty tools.
A brand perception survey is a tool that tells you how your consumers feel and think about your brand based on their overall experience. The questions aim to weed out deeper emotional and mental associations toward your brand, like:
- How do you feel when I mention [the brand]?
- Do you trust [the brand] when looking for [a product]?
- How likely would you recommend [the brand] to your family and friends?
- Can you describe the qualities of [the brand] that stand out the most to you?
You can go as deep as you want to squeeze out the data you need from consumers' minds. But mind that not everyone has the patience to answer long surveys. You can also experiment with different survey formats like multiple choice or by using scales. And to track your brand image over a certain period, it is advised to run the survey before and after a campaign. It gives you a glimpse of how existing customers and new customers react to your brand.
Track Social Mentions and Customer Feedback
Social media, websites, and search engines have become the go-to resource for people looking for honest feedback about products. People are savvy and are more likely to patronize brands that have received stellar reviews or recommendations from peers and family. That said, whether you’re running multiple social media pages and a website, it is crucial to monitor how a customer interacts with your brand—good and bad.
Luckily, there are dozens of social media and marketing intelligence software or tools for you to choose from that can help you gather what you need in a jiff. Aside from analyzing customer satisfaction, they can also pick up spam and fake news sites that mention your brand, thus, avoiding bad press.
Measure Your Branded Search Volume
One indicator of your brand image’s growth is your branded search volume or the frequency of searches by consumers using your brand name or other branded keywords. Such data helps gauge your popularity and narrows your visibility in terms of specific interests attracting them to your brand.
Consequently, you can build a data-backed branding strategy for success. Measuring branded search volume can be done through keyword search tools, search engine analytics tools, and Google trends.
Top Tips to Spice Up Your Brand Image
Tip #1: Incorporate Recognizable Elements
It’s easy to get too enthusiastic about creating a unique and strong brand identity by taking the abstract route. And while that may be tempting to become cool, less is more. It is best to curate your brand image and brand identity according to the interests and characteristics of your target market to foster connection. It is also beneficial to incorporate easily identifiable elements.
For example, seeing a closed yellow clam shell in an upright position brings the petrochemical and energy brand Shell to mind. Or how about Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse ears? These simple yet very memorable logos successfully represent the brands and their brand personality at a glance. They translate well, too, in case you plan to expand the same brand to foreign markets.
Tip#2: Elevate Your Brand with Audio Branding
You know how your brand looks, but do you know how it sounds? That’s right, audio is a crucial branding component, especially as consumers now look for a complete brand experience that teases all the senses. And with the rise of smart speakers everywhere, it may be high time for you to get on board and create your sonic branding.
But first, what is sonic branding?
Sonic branding or audio branding is the use of branded music or a track to elevate your brand. Case in point, research shows that audio branding results in higher recall among consumers than visual assets. Some examples you can take inspiration from include Netflix’s Tu-dum, McDonald’s ‘I’m lovin’ it, ba bada ba ba’, and Amazon’s Alexa Voice. As a result, consumers buy from your brand. You get the gist.
Tip #3: Humanize Your Brand and Become Relatable
The best way to connect with your audience is to tease out visceral emotion by humanizing your brand. You can do this by letting your brand story take form. Ask yourself: What inspired you to establish your brand? What problem are you trying to solve, and how are you different from other brands?
You can also define your brand’s mission and your core brand values. Only then can your brand come to life, be relatable, and be trustworthy to your audience. This strategy of storytelling has been perfectly executed by Nike and Airbnb, among others. Aside from educating their consumers about how they make products and the team behind their success, they also gave a peek at how they impact the community.
Tip #4: Deliver a Seamless Brand Experience
Brand consistency breeds authenticity, which can make nurturing a pipeline of loyal customers a lot easier. More businesses are blurring the line between the digital and offline spaces. Skincare Erno Lazlo CMO Kristy shares that while digital experience comes first, what caps the brand experience is the “offline spaces providing a high touch and human interface.”
In recent years, we have seen the adaptation of AI and robotics to implement such seamless hybrid immersion and automated tasks, especially in retail.
The result? With this brand based approach, buyers get a highly customized shopping experience before they even visit the store.
Tip #5: Foster a Healthy Work Culture
Your team is the best representation of your strong brand image. And for them to become one, business managers need to inculcate a deep understanding of the brand mission and ensure that they align with the brand vision. In effect, they become successful in their jobs and improve your brand image further. Some companies even report their employees stepping up and becoming brand advocates, which can boost customer trust and loyalty.
To achieve this, it takes conscious effort between business owners and business managers to improve the working condition within the company and create a healthy culture - whether by championing diversity and inclusivity, encouraging transparency, or showing genuine appreciation.
More Examples of Brands with Great Brand Image
Proudly Greek Elo Soaps prides itself on its 100% natural handmade soaps made from local ingredients. However, with a saturated market, they need an oomph to their brand packaging to stand out. Something along the lines of incorporating Greek gods and goddesses.
Brand Image Strategy:
Greek-god-themed products are far too common in Greece. To give it a twist, the brand went with a modern approach by using bold geometric elements and a vibrant color palette. The pop-art packaging effectively elevated Elo’s unique brand image, enticing more people to buy their local products.
Buying men’s shorts, especially short shorts, is nothing much to write about. As long as they fit, are comfortable, and look good, who cares where you got them from, right? Wanting to change that narrative, Chubbies, a brand based in San Francisco, launched its line of unforgettable shorts retailing at about $60 and up. Now, the challenge is growing a community sharing the same passion for comfy and vintage-style shorts.
Brand Image Strategy:
After launching its first line, the founders wore them to every adventure they’d gone to. They became brand ambassadors demonstrating the quality of their products, and eventually attracting friends and followers willing to buy from them. And it worked! This grassroots approach catapulted them to online fame, garnering millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter, among others.
With authenticity and pure passion as the hallmark of its brand image, Chubbies created a brand that people love. Soon, the brand expanded to other products and dominated global e-commerce. And in 2019, Chubbies was acquired by the outdoor platform Solo Brands.
What started as a company that sold computer hardware firm has become a household name, producing iconic animated movies like Wall-E, Toy Story, Ratatouille, and Coco, to name a few. But how did it manage to transition into a strong brand it is today?
Brand Image Strategy:
Pixar believes that everything starts with having intimate knowledge of your audience. It makes sense that research has become a vital component of their creative process—whether in writing stories or in branding. The method involves deep diving into the psychological and neurological effects of what the brand wants to convey to its audience. In effect, they are able to deliver on their brand promise of adventure through their releases.
For instance, their brand image approach is apparent on social media, where Pixar’s movies are akin to sub-brands with dedicated pages on several platforms. People resonated so much with the movies that each page garnered millions of followers and is still active years after their theater release.
Build a Strong Brand Image
Building a brand image is an endless endeavor. It requires a lot of introspection to narrow down what your brand stands for, brand identity, brand voice, brand messaging, and brand experience. With the medley of these components, the brand image you aspire to shine through. We hope this article has demystified what a good brand image entails, and its role in advancing your business.
To recap, a positive brand image is vital because:
- It strengthens brand awareness and the brand's reputation.
- It fosters customer trust and loyalty
- It grows your brand equity, beneficial for partnerships and acquisitions.
- It increases your profitability and brand value.
Whether you are an emerging business or an established company, you can always rely on our team of experts to give you the brand image you need. Become a good brand with Ramotion, a leading agency providing professional brand design for businesses.
Updated: May 31, 2023