Brand image is one of the most important ways you can build value and distinguish your company from competitors. Business is becoming ever more digital. That means customers have an increasingly wide array of options for where to purchase goods and services. A strong brand image can make the difference in where they ultimately decide to land. Here are four reasons your brand image matters.
Brand image is how your customers view your company
First things first: what exactly is brand image? Basically, it’s the way your customers and potential customers see your company. BusinessDictionary.com defines brand image as “the impression in a consumer’s mind of a brand’s total personality.” Similarly, brand expert Tracy Sestili defines brand image as “how your brand is perceived by others.” She notes that your brand image is “derived from the words that come to mind when someone is describing your brand.” Notice the customer angle here. While you can and should work to shape your brand image, ultimately it’s your customers’ perceptions that determine what your brand image really is. Also note that your brand image includes all of the perceptions of your brand—positive, negative, and neutral. If you asked 100 customers and prospects to identify words they associate with your company, what would they say? That’s your brand image.
Brand image can provide direction for your future
Every company would like to think that their customers view them they way they want to be seen. But that’s not always the case. Your brand image may be something else entirely. For instance, a soft drink company might want consumers to think of it as “fun,” “tasty,” and “a treat.” But instead, some consumers may associate the brand with words like “sugary,” “unhealthy,” and “calories.” If those consumers are part of the company’s target market, then the company has the opportunity to sway their associations through product changes, marketing strategy, or other means. In short, one of the reasons brand image matters is because it’s a measure of your real-world identity. Assessing your image is a great way to learn what people think of your company and decide where best to focus your efforts in the future.
Brand image can set you apart and boost your bottom line
A positive brand image can help you reap big financial benefits. Market research firm Rockbridge notes that “consumers tend to view a brand’s image as an integral part of the product or service they are purchasing.” Consumers don’t buy just a product or service. They’re also buying “the status, prestige, and perceived benefits” associated with the overall company and brand. In other words, the intangible qualities inherent in your brand image can build value. They can also differentiate you from competitors. Think about how a logo on a t-shirt can both make the shirt more expensive and identify it with a specific and unique company. Association with that company and its image is likely one of the reasons a particular consumer would choose to buy the product, even if it costs a little more. Studies also show that a positive brand image bolsters customer satisfaction and loyalty. Building a satisfied and loyal customer base can help ensure long-term success for your business.
Your brand image is more public than ever before
Your brand image is out in the world more prominently every day. With the proliferation of online reviews, consumer forums, and—perhaps most significantly—social media, consumers can instantly share their thoughts and experiences about your brand. And whenever they do, they are helping shape your brand image. If you haven’t given much thought to your brand image yet, now’s the time to start. Read our customers’ stories to learn how The iPad Receptionist can help.