Just like looking in the mirror, one of the most surprising things about creating a brand is that you, the brand, cannot actually see it. It may be counter-intuitive, but the fact is that your brand only really exists in the minds of the people who engage with it.
When it goes right, it goes very right. Coca Cola and Pepsi are perceived completely differently, but each brand thrives. Pepsi has changed its logo eleven times, over the brand’s history. Their brand perception is hip, innovative, experimental — “the Pepsi generation” was for movers and shakers, right? Coke’s logo is almost identical to its very first incarnation. They are about familiarity and tradition and a sense of classic timelessness.
The two brands — selling two virtually identical carbonated caramel sugar-water products — couldn’t be more different. Coca Cola made the mistake of trying to recontextualize their brand perception heavy-handedly, with the legendarily unsuccessful New Coke. That branding misstep is still discussed today.
The takeaway from their error is a simple idea:
The Key to Good Branding Is Perception
So, How Do People View Your Brand?
That’s the big question that a digital marketing brand consultant can help you answer. Through a combination of interviews, audience demographic research, competitive and industry research, and analytics, a digital marketing brand consultant explores the perception of your branding through the eyes of your customers and clients. In the best cases, your intended messaging will land just as you meant it, but branding is an art. As with any art, once you have sent it out into the world it becomes the focus of an ongoing conversation between you and your audience.
The work of a digital marketing brand consultant is more than measuring the perception of your brand in by your audience. It’s also our job to help you decide how you want to be perceived.
How Do You Want People to View Your Brand?
Is it important to you that your brand or your business be seen as refined, or rough? Are you selling luxuries or are you more utilitarian? Does your language convey a sense of exclusivity, or are you striving to appeal to a broader audience?
Differences in little things, like your choice of font or the colours of your site, can make a huge difference to your brand perception. Paragraph length, formal language, average number of words per sentence, logo design — the list goes on and on, and any single element can be enough to completely shift the perception of your brand in the mind of your audience.
As San Francisco digital marketing brand consultants, where branding and image are very important but also nuanced (many San Francisco brands don’t want to seem too branded), it’s our business to track each of these tiny variables, exploring different approaches and calibrating every aspect of your brand messaging to make sure that your business is being perceived in the way you had hoped.
When It Goes Wrong, How Do We Fix It?
If there’s a discrepancy between the message you intended to send, and the message that your audience received, we’ll help you close the gap through:
1. Clear message based on your audience and goals
This depends on strong audience research. We tailor brand content (whether that’s graphic, written, or in other media) to share your story.
2. Brand consistency (the holy grail)
Inconsistent branding is the number one cause of mistaken identity in brand perception. When your business presents itself in differing or contradictory ways, not only do you alienate a subset of your audience, but it makes even the genuine messages seem contrived.
3. Brand persistency
Branding isn’t something you do just once. Pepsi’s whole image is being “new” and “current” but if they were to slacken on their updates, they would seem all the more dated because of their history. Your brand messaging may evolve as your business grows, but what’s important is that you continue to generate new content. As we’re fond of saying, Content is queen.