How to shift Brand perception: Set SMART goals

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Brand perception is how consumers view your brand and, although it can be influenced by you, it’s usually not without its challenges. What is understood within the company, may be viewed differently from the outside. Regardless of the message you transmit, if it’s not received by the audience, it’s null and void.

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Think you know what your brand represents? I’ll let you in on a little secret; it’s not what you say in your slogan, brand message, values or advertisements. It’s whatever consumers perceive your brand to be.

In this article, we’ll help you explore the different ways in which you can measure brand perception, and how you can actively shift it.

The Importance of Brand Perception

If you don’t think Brand Perception has any value let me ask you this, 'which battery would you prefer to use, Energizer or Eveready?'. Most of you would have said Energizer, as it is perceived as a more established brand, with a reputation as a leading brand in the battery market. With that in mind, both batteries are in fact owned and manufactured by the same company. 

Eveready was established as a cheaper competing brand in order to both, reach alternate markets and solidify Energizer’s status as a premium brand, eventuating in elevated sales.

Brand Perception is a broad concept that covers a lot of ground. Customers can view your brand as too expensive, cheap and nasty, out of touch, outdated, overbearing, irrelevant and so on, it’s up to you to proactively combat these negative viewpoints.

A great example of this can be found in the men’s toiletry brand Old Spice, up until more recent years the younger male generation perceived Old Spice to be a brand that only their Grandfather’s use. In an effort to kick-start the brand and capture a new generation, Old Spice created a series of surreal commercials that have since become legendary in the advertising world. The now-iconic “Old Spice Guy” and quotes like “I’m on a Horse” helped completely reinvigorate Old Spice’s sales.

Following the launch of the ad campaign, the company’s sales more than doubled, their website traffic increased by 300%, the Old Spice YouTube channel became the #1 Most Viewed Sponsored YouTube Channel, and Old Spice became the #1 body wash brand for men.

The reassuring takeaway here is that even if your brand image is failing, it is possible to turn things around. So, don’t be afraid to assess your brand perception and act accordingly.

How to Shift Brand Perception

Changing public opinion might seem like a difficult task if you can’t afford to hire a big PR firm and throw millions into advertising, but small efforts can add up to a big change. 

Once you’ve accumulated feedback from multiple varied sources, you can take that information, any inspiration you may have from your competitors and develop a brand perception initiative that is structured around SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, & Time-based).

What exactly do you want to achieve when it comes to shifting brand perception? It’s one thing to say you want to increase the flow of customers, it’s another thing entirely to say you want your customer base to expand in a particular geographic location. The more specific your description, the more targeted your efforts can be and the bigger your chance will be at reaching your goal.

Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are:

  • What exactly do I want to achieve?

  • Where?

  • How?

  • When?

  • With whom?

  • What are the conditions and limitations?

  • Why exactly do I want to reach this goal?

Having measurable goals means that you have objectives that are trackable, you have identified exactly what measurable elements need to be incorporated into your initiative to shift brand perception and you intend to have concrete numbers and evidence inform you that you have achieved your goals.

Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach.

Is your goal realistic? There’s nothing wrong with wanting strong results but like all things in life, big picture goals often require an accumulation of small achievements in order to reach a larger objective. That means investigating whether the goal really is acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against the profits and the other obligations and priorities your brand has.

When it comes to shifting brand perception, not every brand can be the next Old Spice. Sometimes you just need to be resourceful with what your brand has access to in order to see the change you want.

Much like the earlier point of attainable goals, are your goals aligned with your skill base and resources? If not, maybe you should be asking yourself, why do you want to reach this goal? Will your goal truly help you reach the underlying objective?

You could think that having a large giveaway will help your brand sales to perform better, but will they really? Should your efforts be focused towards a different approach on the matter? Is there a more relevant solution to your brand perception problem?

One of the best measures of progress within an objective is to set time-based goals. Setting deadlines and timeframes helps ensure that goals are constantly being reached and/or pain points are being revealed both internally and externally for a brand. Time is money!


To know if you’re meeting your goals, you’ll need to keep measuring consumer perception of your brand. Once you hit your targets, don’t stop focusing on brand perception. Unfortunately, it can change, even if you don’t. 

Remember, brand perception is owned by consumers, not brands. When you listen to what people are saying, you can better understand what you need to do in order for your own messages to be heard.

It’s not just about broadcasting loudly; brands need to open a two-way dialogue, understanding the needs and motivations of different customer subsets. Once in possession of that insight, you can devise strategic methods for shifting brand perception amongst them.

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