What You Think of Your Brand Doesn’t Matter

Last week, Fire Enterprises (FEI) marketing maven Marka showed the FEI tribe how to create a killer tagline. This week, she explains why customer brand perceptions matter, how to discover what these perceptions are, and how to change them. Remember, fire = print.

Zoot raced into the FEI conference room, holding a bunch of baseball caps. “Check it out, guys!” he said. “I got the FEI logo printed on 50 hats for just $100 Drachmas. Doesn’t our logo look great? I love our new brand—it really connotes the dependability and innovation we want to be known for.”

“Is that what our customers think too?” Marka asked.

Crestfallen, Zoot dropped his hats in a pile at his feet. “I don’t know.”

“The fact is,” Marka said, “It doesn’t matter who we think we are. It matters who our customers think we are.”

“Marka has a good point,” Org said. “We can build an awesome brand, but we can’t make our customers buy into it. We can talk all day about FEI being reliable, but we can’t guarantee that customers will actually associate our brand with this trait. Ultimately, our customers make buying decisions based on their perceptions, not ours. How can we find out how customers perceive us, and how can we change these perceptions?”

The room fell silent for a moment. Then, Marka spoke: “Why don’t we just ask them what they think? Let’s identify a representative cross-section of customers and have them describe the three words or phrases they most strongly associate with FEI. Then we’ll have them do the same for our key competitors.

“This useful exercise can help us identify weak spots in our brand,” Marka said.

“How so?” Org asked.

“Our brand attributes are dependable, innovative, and superb quality,” Marka said. “What if many customers mention ‘traditional’ instead? Then we might look closer at how we’re representing our brand—perhaps our Website does a poor job communicating our forward-thinking mentality.”

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or tj@tjtedesco.com.
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