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Everything You Wanted to Know About Measuring Brand Perception and Then Some

“Here you leave the world of today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy” are the words that greet everybody who enters Disneyland. And, immediately, you’re filled with warmth, nostalgia, and excitement. 

Brand perception makes up those feelings. And measuring them is a good way to gauge who people respond to a brand.

This guide will get you started on your own brand analysis  with a free brand analysis template.

So What the Heck is Brand Perception?

Brand perception is how people… well, perceive (funny that)… a company, product, or service. Mostly, through feelings conjured up each time they experience a brand. How it startles their senses and stirs their emotions.

You know who’s damn good at that… Disney. Goes back to Walt himself. They refer to this as theming.

What makes Disney good at this: they focus on how the story is told and involves the audience within the narrative. At their parks, they immerse the audience in a fabricated world with sights and sounds. All the little touches adding up to an experience.  

That’s how brand perception works as well. Each interaction, small or large, over time adds up to how they completely feel about a brand.

The audience owns brand perception, lock, stock, and barrel. A brand can measure that so that it can tweak the overall experience, influencing the audience’s perception. 

Let us be your guide in doing so.

5 Types of Brand Perception

Like the 5 senses, there are 5 brand perception types. Well, we guess there could be a sixth, but we doubt your audience sees dead people. So let’s focus on just the 5 for now.

1. Visual 

This is what an audience sees of a brand, such as a brand’s logo and overall visual aesthetic. And it’s likely the first thing someone experiences.

But it’s more than logos, colors, or fonts. It embodies what a brand stands for through those elements. A reflection of the brand’s entire identity and personality. One that makes people snap their fingers and say “that’s Disney” or “that’s Nike”. In a visual flash, they know who it is and what they’re about.

2. Experiential

This is all the rest of the senses — touch, taste, smell, and sounds. Okay, hang on, we’re gonna harp on Disney once more.

Disneyland is an experience built around tantalizing the senses.

Photo Credit (Rick Han)

Disneyland is an experience built around tantalizing the senses. Main Street is designed to draw you into the park, toward Cinderella’s castle. Fools you into wanting sweets by pumping a freshly-baked cake scent into the air. Music and sounds blasted through hidden speakers. 

The entire experience becomes magical, memorable. You leave with nostalgia and a yearning to go back again. Or, at the very least, interact with the brand in smaller ways, such as shops, products, and media.

3. Value Alignment

People flock to brands they see as matching their own values. If a person doesn’t click with a brand’s value, then they’re likely to write the brand off.

A tarnished brand image spells disaster. Here are some of branding blunders where the values no longer match those of their audience:

  • Facebook. What more can be said here that hasn’t been said. But if there’s a case study on how a hero can either die or live long enough to become a villain, it’s this mega social network. 
  • Wells Fargo. Around since the stagecoach and Pony Express. Besieged recently by financial scandals, such as opening fraudulent accounts.
  • Boeing. Cover-ups of plane crashes that resulted in deaths didn’t exactly endure this brand to anyone.

If a brand acts against its core values, then audiences will tune out. And it could take years to mend that broken trust.

4. Quality

Usefulness. Durability. Reliability. Is it everything the commercial made it sound to be? Or is the box the toy came in better than the toy? Okay, that’s a silly analogy. But not far from the truth. 

Apple is known for its quality, or so they’ve convinced us. This is brand perception in action. We believe their  products are more or less reliable and durable.

There’s an almost velvet rope experience to getting an iPhone or MacBook. You even feel exclusive when opening up the pretty ivory box it comes in. Each new product release checks off the boxes of our expectations. Just don’t drop your new iPhone or you’re up a creek.

5. Reputation and Legacy

Some brands’ reputations precede them, like Disney. Also its legacy. A brand can slip into the ongoing public consciousness across generations, passed down from parent to child, from friend to friend.

77% of consumers trust the word of mouth of a friend who had a positive experience with a brand. Source: Nielsen.

This is when a brand sticks, becomes unforgettable. This is the final piece of brand reputation that follows a person through their lives. You see a Coca-Cola bottle and it sparks nostalgia for your first sip. Then the warmness of togetherness sharing a Coke can bring. Next thing you know, you’re buying a Coke to drink.

Why Keeping Tabs on How Customers Perceive Your Brand Matters… A Lot

Here’s the skinny on that: dolla bills, y’all. 

People won’t buy if they don’t think much of your brand. The math checks out on that.

  • Charge more and they’ll pay. People will shell out more money if they think a brand is high-quality and exclusive. A 2018 research study proves that. Look at all the designer handbags, such as Louis Vuitton or Hermès. Brands whose quality and reputation are associated with high-class and sophistication. Owning one means you’re those things as well. Because of that, they can charge more because people will pay it. Keep in mind, most folks won’t pay much for brands they don’t know.
  • Quality you can trust. Once someone trusts a brand, it becomes their ride or die.  A brand can easily make a customer a lifer. Someone who’ll gobble up any offering, but will defend the brand to anyone within earshot. Get an Apple fan and a PC fan in the same room together and you’ll see this in action.

Measure Brand Perception in 4 Easy Steps

1. Brand Perception Surveys

This is a set of questions you unleash on your audience to see how they feel about your brand. You can easily ask open-ended, list, or scale rating questions across the five types of reputation.

For example:

  1. Visual
    • Open-Ended: “What emotions does the logo evoke in you?” 
    • List: “Which of the following does the logo bring to mind?” 
    • Rate: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the logo’s design?”
  2. Experiential
    • Open-Ended: “What stands out as the most important part of the product’s experience?” 
    • List: “What words best describe your experience with the product?”
    • Rate: “On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate the overall experience?”
  3. Value Alignment 
    • Open-Ended: “What values do you most associate with this brand?” 
    • List: “Which of the following words best describe the brand’s values?” 
    • Rate: “On a scale of 1-10, how does the brand live up to your own values?”
  4. Quality
    • Open-Ended: “How can we improve our brand’s quality?” 
    • List: “Which of the following would increase your enjoyment with the brand?”
    • Rate: “On a scale of 1-10, how does the quality measure up?”
  5. Reputation and Legacy
    • Open-Ended: “How do you know about our brand?” 
    • List: “Which of the following best describes our reputation?” 
    • Rate: “On a scale of 1-10, how well known are we?”

2. Net-Promoter-Score (NPS Surveys)

NPS isn’t NPH’s cousin. Rather, it’s the Dilithium Crystal Standard of customer experience metrics. A single survey question that churns out a rating. Get a score below zero and you’re toast. Anything above that is pretty decent. The higher, the better, of course.

To get a score, an audience is divided into three categories:

  • Promoters: Those “ride or die” customers. A score of 9-10 
  • Passives: The “meh” crowd… may be satisfied but don’t really feel strongly one way or another. A score of 7-8.
  • Detractors: Haters gonna hate… hate… hate. A score of 0-6.

This can help you see if yours is a trusted brand.

On average, 52% of the variability in the desirability [NPS] is explained by trustworthiness. Source:

There are several tools you can use to help you. One we recommend is Intercepts in Helio, using the Numerical Scale question.

Intercepts and questions in Helio allow you to test your brand perception.

Check out Intercepts in Helio.

3. Social Media Sentiment

Basically this is the chatter about a brand across all the socials. What the attitudes are, good, bad and indifferent.

Keeping track of this is easy peasy. Here are a few tools to help run a social media sentiment analysis: 

  •  Mention. This social listening tool lets you target critical conversations, identify the trends, and gain insights into what people are saying.
  • Hootsuite. Manage all of a brand’s social media in one tool. Publish and keep track of @mentions, hashtags, comments, and likes.

4. Monitor Customer Reviews

The tried and true customer reviews. Still important to understanding brand reputation and perception. Although, we live in a wonderful modern world with tools to help do so.

Here are a few.

For software products:

  • G2: Easily look up your product or service to read all the reviews out there, including video reviews. There’s also an average rating on things like ease of use, setup, and support. 
  • TrustRadius: A collection of vetted, unbiased reviews. Promises companies can’t game the review system. Reviews include pros and cons, as well as star ratings.
  • Capterra: Provides a snapshot of all the reviews available for a particular product, dividing it into pros and cons. Easy to digest format on each review.

For services companies:

  • Better Business Bureau : Been protecting consumer trust since 1912. An independent, non-profit rating and accreditation organization. Consumers can give reviews as well as file complaints against any business.
  • Google reviews: Type in a business into Google Maps, and you’ll also see reviews for that business.

Brick & Mortar:

  • Yelp: A dinosaur in tech that’s been providing people a way to review restaurants, stores, and other businesses online. Who among us hasn’t Yelped an eatery just to see if it’s any good? 

Brand Perception in the Toilet? Here’s How to Fix That!

Not everything is going to always be sunshine and apple sauce. Rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes people won’t give a f… umm care as much… about your brand. But it’s fixable. Here are some tips to help you out.

Win Over Stakeholders

Want to effect change? Get the stakeholders on your side. More importantly, get them all on the same side. Take all your findings, learnings, and data to them. But you’ll want to make it easy, digestible and understandable.

After all, stakeholders are going to and fro from one meeting to another. So you’ll want to get their attention and captivate them. You don’t want to overwhelm them with an orgy of evidence, especially if you want them to agree with you.

One way to do that is to create a perceptual map. This is a nifty chart which shows how an audience truly feels about a brand.

Turn Feedback Into a Continuous Loop  

Feedback isn’t a one-way street. It should be a continuous process, where you should be seeking it from an audience on a schedule. 

Because gauging the temperature of a brand is a snapshot of time. It can change within days, weeks, months or even years. You’ll want to keep checking in, using the tools recommended above. But you don’t want to do it too much, lest you look desperate and needy.

Make sure that the cadence of the feedback makes sense because you don’t want to peeve your customers. Or else they might just give you a negative response for wasting their time.

Don’t Ignore Your Brand Perception

Brand perception isn’t something to put off. It’s already out there. You’ll want to know how your audience regards you. What they feel about the brand when they think about it. Do they even care? 

Not knowing could really cut into the bottom line. Heck, it could completely make it non-existent. And zeros, whether it’s your NPS or in dollar signs, just ain’t sexy. 

But the more you know, the better chance you have at improving your brand perception. So get started today with our Helio Brand Analysis template. 


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