When it comes to the branding process we find that for those that approach it correctly (meaning they treat the brand as more than a logo, name, or color scheme), most miss one very key point. Just because you SAY it's true, does not make it true. And, worse yet, just because you BELIEVE it's true, doesnt make it true either.
We often get so wrapped up in what we want our brand to be, we lose sight of what it actually is or how our market perceives it to be. And in branding, the saying "Perception IS Reality" really rings true.
Before you invest time and money resources in promoting the brand identity you've defined, use the following methodology to conduct your own Perception vs. Reality test to be sure your brand perception matches the reality of your market's experience:
- Poll Your Customers, Colleagues, and Employees (anonymously) . A good brand strategy includes a unique brand position, brand promise, and brand personality. Once you've defined yours, use web polling to validate your brand identity offerings against how your customers, colleges, and employees see you. For example, if your brand promise is Exceptional Customer Service, ask your survey recipients to rate your company on a scale of 1-5 on how well your company delivers on that promise, and so on. We recommend you execute these surveys by contact type (one for Customers, one for Colleagues, and one for Employees). That way you will be able to average your rankings by group and if any group's average ranking is below a 3.5, you should question whether your brand identity simply needs better reinforcement, or if your perception and the market's reality simply do not match.
- Document the Tangibles In addition to your survey, ask each department in the company to list 5-10 ways they TANGIBLY deliver on the brand identity. Tangible is the key here. Provide excellent service to customers is not enough. HOW do you do that exactly? And, how do you do it differently than another company making the same "service" claim?
Using this methodology to test Perception vs. Reality on your brand at least once a year is what is recommended, however you should also use a post-sale follow-up process to continuously measure where you are along the way. Making sure what you SAY and BELIEVE you are, really is true, is the first step to successful branding.
The next is ensuring what you say and believe you are, really is RELEVANT to your target market. You may be excellent at customer service, but what your customers most value you for is your product quality.