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An illustration of a lightbulb with a tape measure around it, representing brand perception measurement.

What Is Brand Perception And How To Measure It?

TJ Kiely

Feb 26, 2024

Ever wonder why some people swear by certain brands? It’s not always because a brand has the best products — instead, it’s about how customers think and feel about that brand. That’s the power of brand perception.

It’s basic brand psychology: All else being equal, people buy based on how they perceive a brand. Sometimes, it’s based on personal experiences. And sometimes, it’s because they have an instant attraction or connection to a brand, even without having a personal experience. 

Buying behaviors aren’t always based on cold, hard facts. It doesn’t always matter how good your product quality or customer service is. If customers don’t perceive your brand in the way you want them to, you’ll struggle to gain their trust and loyalty.

Let’s dive deeper into brand perception and how you can go about understanding, measuring, and influencing how others perceive your brand.


What Is Brand Perception? A Definition

Brand Perception Definition: Brand perception refers to how consumers perceive a brand based on their experiences, beliefs, and emotions. It’s a brand’s general reputation in the eyes of its customers and the general public.

An illustration of puzzle pieces inside a brain representing brand perception

Measuring brand perception is not the same as measuring brand awareness. Awareness focuses on how many people know your brand exists, while perception focuses on how those people view and feel about your brand.

Various touchpoints can influence brand perception, including customer service, product quality, social media, online reviews, and marketing. In other words — things you can control in some capacity.

Why Is Brand Perception Important?

Brand perceptions can influence your customers’ buying decisions. A positive brand perception can lead to sales, long-term brand loyalty, and brand advocacy. On the flip side, negative perceptions can erode sales and market share.

Take Apple, for example. Despite adding new features to its iPhone that Android users have had for years, customers perceive Apple as being innovative and cutting-edge. 

The iPhone boasts a user interface that’s intuitive, clean, and functional and offers an experience customers can’t get anywhere else. Its sleek, luxury-focused branding helps its customers perceive it as a leader in technology.

Also, Apple has a Net Promoter Score of 72 — nearly 20 points higher than the industry average. That’s powerful proof that customers have a positive perception of the brand.

Adding an extra layer of complexity, consumer perceptions are constantly evolving with shifts in trends, new technologies, and online conversations and content. Brands can go viral at the click of a Tweet, which can help or harm brand perceptions. 

While it’s important to understand the role of brand perception, it’s equally important to know how to monitor, measure, and influence others’ perceptions. Brands must adapt to constant changes by staying relevant, transparent, and empathetic toward their audience and being prepared to respond when perceptions go south.

How to Measure Brand Perception

Brand perception measurement doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Your best approach is to build it into the tools and processes you’re already using to monitor trends, consumer insights, customer satisfaction, and brand recognition.

Let’s explore how to measure brand perception in five different ways:

1. Social listening

If you’ve ever wondered what people are saying about your brand behind closed doors, social listening lets you be the fly on the wall.

An illustration of two people with magnifying glasses inspecting a computer monitor, representing social listening

Every social media post, comment, review, and conversation holds valuable insights about what people are thinking, feeling, and needing. Social media is the place where people come to share, let their guard down, and say what’s on their minds, including their feelings about the brands they do business with.

Social listening tools like Meltwater's social listening suite collect these public insights and deliver them to you in a neat and tidy package. You can glean key brand perceptions you’d otherwise miss on your own channels.

Tip: Learn more about social listening in our Ultimate Social Listening Guide!

2. Direct outreach

If you want to know what your customers are thinking and feeling about your brand, just ask them.

From one-on-one conversations to direct messaging on review sites and social media, two-way feedback can be powerful for measuring brand perceptions. This gives you the opportunity to ask specific questions, dig deeper, and reinforce positive brand perceptions while flipping the script on negative feelings.

3. Brand perception surveys

Brand perception surveys can help you collect insights at scale. You can ask questions like:

  • How would you rate your experience with our brand?
  • How does customer service/product quality/price/some other characteristic influence your perception of a brand?
  • How much does a brand’s reputation influence your purchases?
  • How have your perceptions of our brand changed in the last 12 months?
  • How do you relate to our brand values?

Take advantage of free survey tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to survey your customers and compile the results.

4. Consumer insights tools

Similar to social media monitoring tools, consumer insights tools expand beyond social media boundaries to include other sources. These tools offer an always-on approach to market research by scouring the web for conversations on topics that matter to you — in this case, your brand.

Meltwater’s Consumer Intelligence solution uses a combination of AI, data science, and human expertise to source, organize, and explain unstructured data. When you don’t know the right questions to ask or where knowledge gaps exist, our Consumer Intelligence tool fills in the blanks by detecting trends and patterns in data you haven’t yet explored.

Brand Perception Metrics To Track

As you’re compiling insights from various sources, you want to make sure you have a way to align these insights with brand perception. This is where having the right brand perception metrics matters.

Here are a few metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS measures the number of customers who say they would recommend you to others. Measured on a scale of 1-10, scores ranging from 9-10 are advocates; scores of 7-8 are neutral; and scores of 1-6 are detractors.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): CSAT indicates whether customers are satisfied after a specific experience. Measured on a scale of 1-10, this one-question survey can help brands reveal opportunities for improvement.
  • Website Analytics: Website traffic data reveals whether your brand is strong among customers or possibly falling out of favor. Specific metrics include total website traffic, referral sources, bounce rate, page views, and dwell time.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Social listening and consumer insights tools can analyze how people are talking about your brand and compare sentiments about your brand to competitors.
  • Share of voice: Share of voice analyzes the percentage of conversation around a brand in comparison to its competitors. This metric helps businesses gauge how they are resonating with their audience. 
  • Social Media Engagement: The number of likes, shares, and comments on social media can illustrate how others perceive your content.

Combining multiple metrics in your brand perception measurements can add greater context to those metrics and give you a fuller picture of your brand performance.

How to Influence Brand Perception

If your brand perceptions don’t stack up to your expectations, there are ways you can change the narrative. There’s always room for improvement, so try the following techniques to grow your brand perceptions.

Maintain consistent branding

Building a consistent identity helps people associate various visual elements, marketing, and values with your brand. This includes your logo, color scheme, messaging, and other visuals. Your customers can get to know the real you and align their perceptions with your own.

Improve your brand proposition

People need to know what your brand stands for and what makes it unique compared to others. Work on bringing clarity to your brand proposition, which will allow you to maintain a consistent image across all channels.

Show, don’t tell

Don’t just talk about what makes you a great brand. Use the power of storytelling to put your brand into perspective. Share compelling stories about your brand, its history, and the people behind it. Humanizing your brand can create emotional connections with customers.

Actively seek customer feedback

Actively seek and respond to customer feedback. Address concerns and show that you value the opinions of your customers. Using survey tools or popular methods like NPS and CSAT will provide ample opportunities to connect with customers on their level.

Be responsive

Your customers want to be seen and heard. Anytime they leave you an online review, drop a comment on social media, or reach out to you, make sure you respond to them promptly. Being responsive helps to humanize your brand and build connections with your audience.

3 Examples of Brands with Great Brand Perception

Need some inspiration to improve your brand position? Check out these three brand perception examples of companies that get it right.

1. Snickers

The chocolate candy bar market leaves customers spoiled for choice. So why would a hungry chocolate lover choose Snickers over Hershey’s? Besides taste, you can thank its clever marketing. 

The “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign gives the brand staying power by showing how to combat “hangry” feelings after eating a Snickers. These commercials have helped Snickers stand out by connecting with consumers emotionally and humorously.

2. Zoom

Zoom became a household name during the pandemic, allowing people to stay connected while working remotely. But its explosive growth was short-lived after 2020 as more people complained of Zoom fatigue and the extra mental effort that video conferencing required.

Fortune 500 choose Zoom

Since then, Zoom has implemented features that make using its platform easier and more enjoyable. These include Zoom phone, which offers users another option besides video conferencing, and Speaker View, which minimizes visual stimulation. The brand also launched the “How the World Connects” campaign to show how other companies are using the platform to reinforce its value.

3. Avon

A classic example of the power of brand perceptions, DTC company Avon didn’t start as a cosmetics company. Instead, its founder was a traveling book salesman who offered free perfume samples with each book purchase.

An illustrated advertisement for Avon

Image Source

Learning that his female customers were more interested in the perfume than the books, he pivoted to start selling personal care products and recruited women to build stronger connections with his target audience.

How to Automate Brand Perception Measurement

Brand perceptions can change over time — all it takes is one campaign, one online review, or one viral Tweet to make a difference. To make sure your efforts are working in your favor, consider putting brand perception measurement on autopilot. 

Tools like Meltwater’s Consumer Intelligence solution make it possible. Our consumer insights platform lets you monitor your brand across online and offline channels, putting social listening, sentiment analysis, and market research in your hands. Meltwater works 24/7 in the background and can send you alerts and key insights, helping you turn brand perception measurement from a one-off task to a valuable and intentional part of your branding strategy.

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