What is brand image?
Brand image is how your audience perceives your company. Although you can influence this through various activities and positioning, you cannot control this. Ultimately, brand image is a customer’s feelings towards your brand.
Consistency within brand identity, across all of your communication channels, is key to managing your brand image. This includes building a visual identity, tone of voice and brand point of view. You should gather members of your company to begin doing this by defining what the company means to them. Using this information, you can begin to formulate your brand image strategy.
Influencing brand image
Getting heaps of feedback and distilling this down into what you feel are the core values and attitudes of your brand is the first step. This activity is crucial, as it allows you to gather opinions, facts and ideas around how you should position your brand.
You should then use this to create a brand mission and vision, a short and succinct set of phrases. Your mission will tell prospective investors and customers what your brand purpose and approach is. Whereas your brand vision is the ideas and what the brand wants to achieve in the wider world.
This work is crucial to inspiring the design of a logo and forming a tone of voice. If you own a corporate business you will often have a more simplified or professional logo, alongside complementary tone of voice. Equally, if your brand is more creative or artistic, your logo and tone of voice may be innovative or fun.
All of these opinions you’ve collected need then to be filtered into brand guidelines that can be picked up by anyone in the business to ensure consistency across every channel. This could include customer comms examples, terminology, social media posts and who your target audience personas are.
Reaching the right audiences
Your brand identity should be designed to influence the opinions of the right people. This is where extensive audience research is beneficial. You can then use this information to create personas for your key customers and positioning yourself through visual identity and the way you communicate to better align with their interests, lifestyles and beliefs.
Without an in-depth knowledge of your customer base, or desired customers, you will likely fail at creating positive brand resonance. The brand will be disconnected from what the customer expects or wants and will likely lose business to a brand which places more importance on this.
This includes understanding how your customers reach you. If your customer base is comprised mainly of Gen Z, then identifying pathways from the likes of Instagram and Snapchat would be a sensible approach to capturing interest. Alternatively, for middle-aged audiences, Facebook is far more popular.
Physical and digital spaces
Your brand will indefinitely operate in one or both of these spaces. An online space offers a wealth of creativity that should reflect your understanding of how your customers browse, enquire and purchase.
Your layout should be navigable in line with your understanding of how confident and capable your customers are with the internet. Equally, imagery, copy and design should aim to captivate and inspire your audience and align with the persona.
Similarly for a physical space, although more costly, should still align with the above points. For example, it would be illogical to open a store aimed at senior citizens, which has dark lighting, loud music and unconventional floor layout. These simply do not meet their basic needs, however, this may work for a younger demographic.
Addressing poor perceptions
You cannot control your brand image, but you can control how you position yourself and address adversity. If you make a mistake, speak up about it. Trying to hide errors, especially in the era of viral social media, you’ll quickly be found out and dragged harder for it.
Instead, it’s important to fess up when something is incorrect, or a representative has said something inaccurate or offensive. You can prepare press materials alongside putting in place guidelines on how to manage any crisis that might occur.
It’s also important to try and avoid these situations by setting clear guidelines for the company overarching standpoint on key social issues, for example, climate change. You should also align these with a real-world activity that your brand undertakes to actively combat them.
In this example, this could be only using reusable materials, reducing carbon footprint, supporting charities and individuals driving for change to combat the problem and partnering with other business to drive bigger and better change.
My brand image
If you’re unsure of how to formulate or change your brand identity to drive an improved brand image, then get in touch with us today for a free brand strategy session.
Also published on Medium.