What do you think of when you hear Mercedez-Benz, Audi or BMW? Luxury. Exclusive. High-end. Brand image is an essential component of successful marketing and promotion, and your business as a whole. It’s how consumers perceive your brand, products and experience.
Organizations operating with large and small budgets are quick to think of extensive promotion as additional, unnecessary expenses. Instead, you should consider business branding a wise investment for long-term profit.
Unfortunately, your image isn’t totally in your control. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to shape it in the mind of the consumer. In this article, I’m going to explain what brand image is, how important it is and how to craft yours.
What Is Your Business Brand Image?
By definition, brand image is the impression of a product held by real or potential customers. In reality, it’s how customers perceive and feel about your brand – not just the products and services you provide.
Brand image isn’t solely decided by customers actively purchasing and using your products. Casual consumers also determine and affect it, and over time it is likely to evolve.
What Brand Image Is NOT
Brand image is not totally in your control. It’s also not completely out of your control, but consumers determine it first and foremost. The term is often confused with brand identity – which is the active efforts of a business to shape the perception of its brand.
Think of it this way. Brand identity is the effort to craft your brand image. You can do everything in your power to determine how consumers view your brand, but at the end of the day, it’s out of your control.
Elements of Brand Image
There are several elements that go into a brand’s image. The most impactful elements are
- Brand personality and voice. How do consumers view your brand personality and does it align with their values?
- The perceived position of your brand. If consumers consider your product a high-end luxury item, that’s where your perceived market position lands.
- Your logo. It’s one element you have some control over and an iconic logo is implanted in the consumer’s memory.
I chose to highlight Allan Myers in the screenshot below and throughout the post. As a client of mine, I worked with Allan Myers to tell capture their visual brand. They pride themselves on building a better world for their employees, partners, and communities. Their homepage is a strong example of on-brand imagery, a solid logo and a clear effort to shape the brand image of a friendly, helpful and impactful organization.
How Important Is Brand Image?
Brand image is essential to the success of your company. It’s the impression the most important decision-makers – the consumers – have of your organization. It reflects how effectively your business is managed and impacts your profits.
Brand image is was what makes your business memorable and, more importantly, credible in the eyes of the consumer. In the sections below, I’ll explain in greater detail the impact brand image has on your company’s success.
Establishes The Consumers’ Impression Of Your Company
Your brand image is the consumers’ impression of your company. If consumers feel that you’re genuine and conduct business the right way, you’ll have a positive brand image. Millennials and Gen Z consumers specifically are more likely to support a business or brand because of what it stands for, not the actual products and services.
Across all generations, 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason to have a relationship with a brand. Piggybacking off of that, only 13% feel that frequent interactions are necessary. Essentially, consumers don’t care about consistent contact with your brand as long as values align. Quality over quantity, if you will.
Reflects Your Business Management
The perception of your brand can be a direct reflection of how you manage your business and meet consumers’ needs. Whether you like it or not. You may feel your company operates efficiently, but consumers make the final call.
It’s not directly linked to the service either. If your advertising is all over the place or if you have outdated stock photos on your website, consumers might infer that you’re not able to keep up with the changing times.
Image directly affects profits. If consumers perceive you as a high-end luxury brand, you can sell products at a premium and increase your profits. On the flip side, you can have the greatest product in the world, but if prospective customers don’t think your brand is valuable you’ll lose out on profits.
Positioning isn’t the only element of brand image that affects profits. If people relate to the values and mission of your organization, they’ll choose to support you no matter how it affects their “status” in society. In turn, you’ll see more profits.
Makes Your Organization Recognizable
A strong image makes your brand more recognizable than your product. Not only does it increase the value of your company, but it also provides the opportunity for growth.
If your brand is recognizable, you can expand your product and service lines. You can take risks and reach outside of your existing niche.
A positive brand image equals a credible business. If you’re known for your values or for a stellar user experience, your image will be reliable. A reliable brand is a safe choice when consumers need to ensure their needs are met.
On a different spectrum, an exclusive luxury brand earns the respect and business of high-profile consumers. A sort of social credibility that shapes your organization as a whole, beyond the product line.
How To Build a Strong Brand Image
As I’ve mentioned before, your brand image is ultimately determined by the consumers – not you. That doesn’t mean you can’t shape your brand in a way that appeals to consumers. I’ll talk about a few tactics you can take in order to give yourself a better chance at establishing a strong, reputable brand image.
Establish Your Brand Identity
Remember that term that’s often confused for brand image? Your brand identity: who you are and what you stand for. In order to appeal to consumers – 64% of whom support businesses because of their values – you have to take a stance.
Determine and clearly define your mission, vision and values. To do this, you should ask yourself:
- Why does the company exist?
- What do you want to get out of doing business?
- What purpose do you serve that consumers value?
Along with your values, know where you want to sit in the market. Do you want to be an authority in your industry? Or do you want your brand to be accessible to a larger portion of consumers?
Understand and own the qualities of your brand that will help position yourself accordingly. If you’re a premium brand that comes with a sense of exclusivity, push that in every avenue of your business. In a sense, you’re trying to make the decision for consumers.
Create a Brand Personality
If you know your identity and position, creating a brand personality is simply establishing your voice. That’s the tone of your brand – the visuals, aesthetic, language and sound of your organization.
In order to create a brand personality, consider asking yourself and your team a couple of questions.
- What do customers feel when they contact the brand?
- What should the brand look and sound like?
Create Captivating Marketing Content
Does brand personality and image exist if no one knows about it? No. Consumers don’t require consistent interactions, but you have to grab their attention in the first place. All of your marketing campaigns and promotional efforts should be tailored to your brand’s personality. All of your written copy should speak from the same voice. A voice that aligns with and relates to your target customer base.
The most important components of captivating marketing content are high-quality, professionally-shot images. Compelling product photography, on-location commercial lifestyle visuals and relatable portraits all can be strategically captured. An experienced corporate photographer has the business branding acumen to translate your personality, identity and desired image visually.
Professional video production is equally as important, with platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok dominating the social media landscape. You can double dip during video production by hiring a production stills photographer. This will leave you with a professional video and a diverse library of production stills to use as a one-two punch in your marketing campaign.
Give Customers a Positive Experience
I’ve harped on the importance of taking a stance versus solely marketing a product or service. But that doesn’t mean your customers’ experiences don’t play a role in shaping your brand image.
Strive to make your customer’s journey a positive experience at every touchpoint, whether it’s their first interaction with your brand or they’re lifelong supporters.
- If you sell any type of retail product or service, you should have a seamless experience in all stores – physical or online e-commerce.
- Hire and support well-trained, knowledgeable and personable employees to represent your business.
Conduct Market Research
If you don’t know it’s broken, it can never be repaired. Market research, which is essentially communicating with consumers for feedback, is the only way to gauge where your brand image stands.
Conducting surveys and focus groups gives you insight into:
- How consumers perceive your brand, and
- What you can do in order to enhance or improve your brand image.
Casey Templeton Can Help Build Your Brand Image
It can be nerve-wracking to rely on consumers to determine your brand image. But it’s crucial to the success of your business and there are steps you can take to positively impact it.
One of the best ways to make an impact on consumers is by hiring a professional photographer. If you rely on iPhone photography to source your marketing materials, you risk coming off as an amateur organization. You can try all the tricks in the book, but a technically-trained professional corporate photographer has an eye for the shot and branding experience that can’t be matched.
Casey Templeton is an experienced commercial photographer, having worked in numerous industries and with businesses of all sizes. If you want to learn more about brand image or are looking to start a photography project, fill out a contact form.