How to Brand – Part 6: Monitor Brand Perception

Stop right there! Time to catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the How to Brand series. When you’re done, come back to this article to learn how to put everything together to ensure your brand is ready for long-term success.

How to BrandWhen you learn how to brand, you must understand that branding doesn’t end when your logo is designed and your marketing materials are printed. Branding is an ongoing process of monitoring brand perception to ensure your brand is always meeting consumer expectations and evolving with consumers’ changing needs.

Do you think Pepsi is satisfied being in second place behind Coca-Cola? No, Pepsi never gives up. In fact, earlier this year when Pepsi found its brand in third place behind both Coca-Cola and Diet Coke, Pepsi’s executives were quick to announce that the Cola Wars are far from being over.

The world changes. Consumers change. Markets change. Everything changes. You need to monitor consumer perceptions of your brand before the micro- and macro-environmental changes that inevitably happen negatively affect your brand. Research, listen, and be willing to accept that what you know today and what works today might not work tomorrow.

Pepsi BottlesNever in history has this been more true than it is in 2011 when global communication is instant and news travels as fast as someone can type 140-characters or less on Twitter. If you’re not continually aware of consumer sentiment and brand perceptions, your brand will get left behind with little hope of catching back up.

Combine your market research efforts with social media monitoring efforts, so you understand consumer perceptions, behaviors, and needs in greater detail than anyone could have imagined ten years ago. You have access to conversations, opinions, commentary, and complaints thanks to tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, forums, and videos. Use that access to your advantage. Join conversations, nudge them in the right direction, correct erroneous comments, and bring your brand to life. Make people believe in your brand promise through your branded actions. It’s the perfect way to come full-circle and wrap up all parts of the How to Brand series with a neat bow.

Brands are like children. They have to grow and sometimes growth requires change. Don’t be afraid of change. If consumer perception and needs demand brand evolution, be at the forefront of that evolution and lead the way. If you spend time monitoring, researching, and listening, you’ll see new opportunities present themselves to you that your competitors might miss. Are you willing to pass those opportunities up for your competitors to steal away from you? If you don’t leverage them, someone else will!

Complacency is a brand killer. Remember, consumers build brands, not companies. If you get complacent, they’ll move on to another brand that meets their expectations based on their perceptions. You can never give up on ensuring your brand delivers on those expectations and perceptions. You must continually research, monitor, and listen. That’s how to brand.

If you missed earlier parts of the How to Brand series, follow the links below to read them now:

Image: Flickr

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius brings over 20-year of marketing and branding experience as Contributing Editor for the AYTM.com blog. She is the author of numerous books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com.