Do you think that Apple is cool, Yakult is healthy or Dyson is clever? We all have ideas about brands and what they represent – it’s known as brand perception.
What is brand perception?
Brand perception is how a brand is perceived by consumers; it’s the overriding sentiment that people feel when they think about a particular brand. What traits do they associate with your company name? Do they understand your brand purpose or mission? What type of people do they think it’s for? Where do they think it sits in the market? Brand perception plays an important role in customer loyalty, which ultimately correlates to market share.
How do you measure brand perception?
There are various ways to measure brand perception, such as with social media listening tools, but for much deeper insight, Companies can carry out a brand perception survey. By asking target consumers a series of questions you can discover people’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs about your brand, and the relationship they have with it. Although the subject matter is somewhat intangible, the survey data provides hard and fast figures to work with and benchmark against.
The reason for running a brand perception survey is to understand how well the messaging you’re trying to communicate about your brand through your marketing is actually getting through. It’s also an opportunity to flag up any problems with your brand image that you need to deal with. Once you understand your brand perception, you can start to shift it.
A brand perception survey differs from a brand awareness survey because it’s trying to find out what people think of your brand, not how many people have heard of it. With that said, brand perception is a part of overall brand awareness and brand perception questions are sometimes part of brand tracking surveys.
When should you run a brand perception study?
It makes sense to run a brand perception study once your brand has been out in the market long enough to achieve reasonable brand awareness. After all, if most people have never actually heard of your brand, they’re not going to have any opinions about it.
Once you reach a stage where you’re running national marketing campaigns and have good distribution, you can start asking people what they think. It’s a great idea to run a brand perception survey prior to planning any new marketing strategy so that you have a clear idea of existing strengths and weaknesses.
It’s also a useful project to undertake before going out for funding or approaching strategic partnerships. That’s because it allows you to prove to stakeholders outside of your business how valuable your brand is – and the type of consumers who have an affinity with it.
Send a brand perception survey
Use our editable brand perception survey template to learn what people think about your brand.
Who should you survey for a brand perception survey?
One thing brand managers often believe is that they should ask existing customers what they think about their brand. While it is very important to know what they think, a reliable brand perception survey needs to go further than this. Bear in mind that existing clients have already experienced your marketing communications, liked what they saw, and decided to buy. But what about the people who decided not to buy?
Arguably, it’s those people who have the most valuable insights because something about their experience has put them off and made them think ‘this brand is not for me’. And if those are people within your target audience, this could be a cause for concern. Because of this, you should always speak to both customers and non-customers when running a brand perception survey. You can do this with ease by using a self-service market research company like Attest, a tool that can give you access to 100 million consumers in 46 markets.
Using the Attest survey platform, you can select respondents according to a number of different demographic filters, so you’re only asking people who fall into your target market. It could well be that men aged 40-65 buy your product, but if you’re specifically focused on Gen Z, it’s their opinions that count most.
As a first step, you can begin your survey with a qualifying question to make sure only those respondents who are actually aware of your brand carry on with the survey. A qualifying question might look like this:
Q. Have you heard of any of the following brands?
A. Your brand B. Competitor C. Competitor Etc…
Those who answer ‘A’ will be qualified into the survey and shown the next question. Those who are unaware of your brand will be thanked for their time and exited, meaning you don’t have to waste money on responses that aren’t useful.
What should you ask in your brand perception survey?
First up, it’s important to find out if survey respondents are already customers or not so you can differentiate their answers. As such, you should include a question which asks if they have ever purchased your brand before. But rather than posing a simple yes or no question, you should dig a little deeper to understand how much experience they’ve had with your brand. A question might look like this:
Q. How often do you typically purchase [your brand]?
Weekly Fortnightly Monthly Every 2-6 months Every 7-12 months Less frequently than once a year I’ve only purchased once before I’ve never purchased before
The answer scale you include in your question will depend on the products in your sector (i.e. people will buy soft drinks more frequently than they buy clothes). You may want use routing to direct respondents to different questions based on how they answered, for example, to ask those who have purchased your brand before about their experiences.
Q. What type of products/service does [your brand] sell?
Why? The aim here is to find out if the respondent can correctly associate your brand name to what you do. This gives you an indication of the level of brand awareness that you have i.e. have they just heard of your company name or do they actually understand the nature of your business? Can they identify your product, services and solutions?
Q. How would you describe [your brand] to a friend?
Why? Asking how a respondent would describe you to friends lets you hear in their own words what they think your brand offers and represents. Is your proposition easy or difficult for them to sum up? What language do they use? Look for the most frequently repeated words or phrases. Ways to visualise this data include putting it into a word cloud.
Q. Which (if any) of the following traits do you associate with [your brand]
Why? You’ll include a list of brand attributes you believe your brand possesses mixed with some conflicting ones. For example, ‘modern’ and ‘old-fashioned’. Do people select the traits you hope for? Which ones come out on top? You may discover that some desired traits are less dominant than others, showing you where messaging needs strengthening.
Q. What emotions do you feel when you think about [your brand]?
Why? Traits are the qualities that your brand has, but emotions are the feelings that your brand stirs in others. It’s important to try to influence both with your marketing if you want to succeed because purchase decisions are often made in the heart and not in the head.
Q. Who do you think [your brand] is aimed at?
Why? If you’ve been targeting a particular demographic, with marketing designed to appeal to them, this question will let you know how well you’re doing. Do the audience you’re surveying realise the brand is aimed at them or is there a misstep here?
Q. Which (if any) of the following messages do you associate with [your brand]?
Why? This is where you can test awareness of your brand tagline, slogan or messaging from a specific campaign. You can also include messaging from competitors to understand if there’s any confusion between your brand and others. How differentiated is your brand’s voice in the crowd?
Q. Where do you think [your brand] sits in the market?
Why? You can provide a scale from ‘high-end’ to ‘low-end’ to see if you are projecting the right brand image. Do consumers consider your brand mid-range, even though you’re aiming for prestige? This indicates that you need to tweak things like your pricing, packaging and store placement.
Q. What do you think about [your brand]’s pricing?
Why? Asking your target demographic if they perceive your brand as expensive, reasonable or cheap lets you find out if you’ve pitched your pricing right. You can also ask respondents to rate the perceived quality of your brand to see if there’s any mismatch between quality and price i.e. people think your brand is too expensive because it’s low quality or they think it is high quality at a cheap price.
Q. What do you think about [your brand]’s advertising?
Why? This question lets you understand if you’re hitting the right mark with your marketing. You can tailor the answers to find out if people like or dislike it, traits they associate with your marketing or even how memorable they think it is. You can also expand the process by carrying out creative testing before running your next campaign to make sure it’s on-brand.
Q. What words would you use to describe [your brand]’s packaging?
Why? By embedding imagery of your packaging into your survey, you can get feedback on its design. Does your packaging reflect your desired brand traits? Is there anything about it that’s out of alignment? To explore perceptions about your packaging in more detail consider carrying out a packaging design testing survey.
It’s worth noting that you can also ask any of these questions in respect to a competing brand, not just your own. This allows you to a make direct comparison between how your brand is perceived and how your competitors are perceived, and can add extra depth to your market research.
Brand perception survey question types
To get the most useful results from your brand perception survey you should design it with a variety of question types. The question and answer format you choose will dictate whether the data you collect is ‘quantitative’ or ‘qualitative’.
Quantitative responses are those that can be reported as a number i.e. 60% of respondents selected answer A.
Qualitative responses are those given to open text questions. People answer in their own words and no predefined answers are provided.
Having a mixture of both types will give you the best understanding of your brand perception. Quantitative questions let you set perimeters so you can measure perceptions around specific traits or receive responses in a standardized way that’s easy to analyse. Meanwhile, qualitative questions allow you to collect unbiased feedback and provide colour and context around the numeric data.
Attest supports the following question types:
Ranking i.e. ask consumers to rank traits in order of how strongly they associate them with your brand
Scales i.e. ask people to select how much they agree or disagree with a statement about your brand
Net Promoter Score i.e. ask respondents how likely they are to recommend your brand to friends on a scale of 1-10 in order to get your NPS
Incorporating a variety of question types into your brand perception survey will not only give you richer data, but it will also make it more engaging for the respondent. Engagement can also be maximised by keeping your survey to between 10-12 questions – so it takes no more than five minutes to complete.
Let people know at the outset how long the survey is likely to take. This will help to manage their expectations and maintain their attention. You want respondents to give your questions proper consideration rather than starting to rush through them. The Attest software lets you place message cards throughout your survey to break it into sections and keep respondents tuned-in.
Don’t forget to include answer options like ‘don’t know’, ‘N/A’ or ‘none’ to cater for people who are less familiar with your brand and will therefore be unable to truthfully answer some questions. This will help to maintain your data quality.
Finally, before you hit ‘go’ on your brand perception survey, check that it’s well-designed and makes sense to the average person by having someone outside of your team (or even your organization) demo it.
Examples of brand perception surveys
Want to see what a brand perception survey actually looks like? Check out these interactive examples below. You can play around with the demographic filters to see how it changes the results.
Gusto meal kits
Almond Breeze almond milk
Brand perception survey template
If you’re looking to get started quickly, we’ve created a brand perception survey template, pre-populated with the key questions to uncover what people think about your brand. The template can be easily edited so you can adapt it to your needs.
Ready to get started with your brand perception survey?
With Attest, you can be up and running in no time at all. Sign up now and check out our easy-to-use survey builder or book an intro to the platform to have one of our research experts talk you through it.
We’re already working with companies like Gymshark, Little Moons, Deliveroo and Wise helping them manage their brands more effectively. Start taking control of your brand by launching a brand perception survey today.
Send a brand perception survey
Use our editable brand perception survey template to learn what people think about your brand.
Elliot joined Attest in 2019 and has dedicated his career to working with brands carrying out market research. At Attest Elliot takes a leading role in the Customer Research Team, to support customers as they uncover insights and new areas for growth.