The True Power of Influence: Crafting Your Impactful Brand Image

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Do your favorite brands understand your needs? Do they have a personality that connects with you?

The feeling you have about brands is their brand image. The most successful brands do extensive consumer research to craft their brand strategy.

In this article, I’ll give you the tools needed to influence audiences so they feel positive about your brand.

What Is Brand Image?

Brand image is the overall feeling or perception a customer has toward a brand. It is how each person feels about the values, persona, purpose and identity of brands. Brand image is ultimately influenced by each customer’s interactions, both positive and negative.

Think of brand image like the consumer’s perspective of a brand’s values and identity. No matter what a company does, they can’t directly change their brand image.

Keep in mind that not everyone shares the same ideas about your brand. As a result, there are a lot of nuanced tasks that go into these branding strategies.

However, it is possible to position your brand in ways that positively influence your brand image, which boosts success.

Unique Benefits That Prove the Value of Brand Image

Here are some of the more important, and often lesser-known, reasons that brand image is useful:

Break Into New Markets With Ease

Gatorade was founded in 1965, and it was quite the hit. In fact, it popularized the concept of a sports drink.

Powerade wasn’t founded until 1988. Clearly, entering into the sports drink market would be difficult, considering the grasp Gatorade currently had on it.

A Gatorade and Powerade ad side-by-side.However, Powerade came from a company with a strong brand image, Coca-Cola. By having an established brand, they were able to create new products and succeed in a different market. Powerade is still around and thriving, for what it’s worth.

The Better the Brand Image, the Faster the Brand Spreads

It’s easy to forget, at a time when we have access to so many different marketing and advertising channels, that a lot of new customers find out about brands through word of mouth.

Of course, without a unique and powerful brand image, it’s unlikely anyone will recommend your products and services to a friend or family member.

Everyone likes to give good advice, it’s a great feeling. If audiences see your brand as trustworthy, they’ll feel comfortable recommending it, knowing they won’t be leading astray important people in their lives.

Increases in Sales, Revenue

A strong brand image plays a huge role in consumer behavior. Just as we wouldn’t recommend an untrustworthy brand to a friend, we also wouldn’t buy their products or services ourselves.

Therefore, it’s clear that purchases are often a direct result of brand image. Build up your brand image to further increase your revenue.

Don’t Confuse Image With Identity, but Recognize Similarities

Sid is a 55-year-old man who wants to reconnect with his younger years. He decides to shave both sides of his head, keeping enough hair for a spiky mohawk. He then dyes this mohawk green.

Next, he puts on some leather pants and a jean jacket stitched with logos of his favorite punk rock bands.

He heads to the grocery store and does some shopping. During his trip, he sees people staring at him more than usual. He thinks to himself, “Wow, I am so punk rock. I look like I am 21 again.”

This is brand identity in a nutshell. It’s how the brand presents itself and sees itself to be.

In this same example, the grocery store gawkers seeing Sid think to themselves, “Wow, that guy looks too old to be dressing like that! This is hilarious!”

This is brand image exemplified. It is how the audience (the grocery store go-ers) sees your brand (Sid, the 55-year-old with a green mohawk).

An older and younger punk rocker staring at each other.You can see immediately that brand identity is similar to brand image, and that it absolutely influences it greatly. However, it’s clear that they are indeed different.

Furthermore, even though it appears our brand identity has a direct impact on brand image and not vice-versa, this isn’t necessarily the case. For example, if we study our brand image and get negative feedback, we may adjust our brand identity as a result.

Keep this relationship between brand identity and brand image in mind while thinking about the many phases and issues related to branding.

3 Examples of Successful Brand Images

Let’s take a look at some companies who developed effective brand image:

1. Lamborghini

Lamborghini is an interesting brand, having created an image that represents a higher level of quality. People view Lamborghini almost like a club that they would like to someday get into.

Their models go beyond luxury, also representing performance and sport. This separates them from brands like Rolls-Royce, a comfort-luxury ride.

If you visit the Lamborghini website, you’re met with model specifications and images. There are no prices next to the cars. In contrast, visit Chevrolet’s website and the price of each model is listed right next to it.

This presents an image of exclusivity, which might draw people in even further.

The Lamborghini and Chevy webpages side-by-side.2. Cabela’s

Cabela’s is an outdoor clothing and equipment brand that cultivated an image of sturdy, self-sufficient gear.

Cabela’s understood something about their target market that others didn’t – that outdoor gear is about memories and nostalgia. Instead of focusing on the material of winter gloves, they explain the ways their gloves will keep you warm in the ice house with your family on vacation.

Their advertising campaigns create this unique brand image as well, with outdoorsy colors, videos of kids having fun on a fishing trip and families camping outside.

3. Zappos

Zappos, an online shoe and clothing store, has managed to create a brand image that is widely recognized as one of the most trustworthy, caring and thoughtful brands around.

They’ve always been known to provide an amazing customer experience and offer overwhelmingly superior customer service.

Most recently, they’ve been in the spotlight for offering support to anyone who needs it during the current pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Without requiring any purchase, people are able to call Zappos reps and chat about whatever they’d like.

It’s exciting to see brands create such positive images for themselves. So how can we do the same? Let’s start by taking a look at some unique strategies.

Strategies to Revolutionize Your Process

It’s not enough to research and think about how to improve our brand image – we need to think meaningfully about it. How are we going to make this happen? What ways will a method or tactic work? These types of deeper questions should be a large part of the consideration stage.

To give you a strong base in which to form your brand image, here are some powerful strategies:

1. Don’t Just Vary Your Content – Transform It!

Content is a way for brands to develop strong bonds with consumers. It informs them of new decisions while establishing company values and building voice.

By now, most brands attempt to diversify their content, varying it in order to reach as many different markets as possible. This often results in different mediums as well, such as newsletters, articles and white papers.

However, this is only half the battle. Building brand image is all about learning how consumers view your brand. Since no brand is perfect, no content is either. In fact, a lot of content fails to connect with target audiences.

Instead of simply attempting to diversify content and extend its outreach to new markets, try re-creating different pieces and taking new approaches. Chances are, if you take an in-depth look at your content, there will be things to change.

2. However Much You Know About Your Audience, It Isn’t Enough. Keep Digging.

None of our efforts are valuable if they don’t attempt to meet the needs and expectations of our audience. Knowing this, it’s extremely important to put in the extra effort to evaluate the market and re-test our methods.

We might have a pretty good idea of who our audience is and what they’re all about, but chances are it’s not nearly as good as we think. People move, they age, they change and their needs evolve. If we lock them into a category and keep them there, we’re bound to fail.

As a general rule, it’s important to gather information such as age, location and interests. Of course, your brand will want different consumer data than other brands, so personalize your research.

If you want to discover new information about a specific market, there are tools that give detailed insight. SparkToro, for example, informs you of significant choices your target audience makes.

The SparkToro website.SparkToro removes the need for extensive surveys and exhaustive research. Instead, it delivers you information about your target market, such as what types of articles they read, videos they watch and profiles they follow.

Our team recently used SparkToro and found it was very useful, saving us tons of time we otherwise would have spent researching on our own.

3. Pinpoint Optimal Brand Visuals and Don’t Stray Too Far

Using an example brand that we mentioned earlier, Cabela’s uses color schemes that represent the outdoors. It’s as if their logo and other brand elements would blend in with a scene of nature.

Similarly, we want to thrive for visuals that represent our brand image. If a customer feels a certain way about us, try to match and uphold that feeling with our logos and other brand elements.

Once we’ve locked in a distinct group of visuals that work well for our image, try to minimize any changes surrounding it. While it’s fine to make a few changes to your visuals from time-to-time, they should be within reason and not destroy someone’s image of your brand.

4. Marketing Tactics: The Right Message in the Wrong Place Is the Wrong Message

It’s impossible to boost brand success without an effective marketing plan. Once you’ve narrowed your target market, it’s time to reach them through carefully-constructed content and campaigns.

However, the right message is only as good as the medium it’s on. If you’re targeting SUV drivers on Instagram, but research has shown almost no SUV owners use Instagram, it won’t matter how creative the campaign.

Once you’re on the right medium, targeting the correct audience, feel free to get creative. As we see time and time again, brands willing to distance themselves from the norm often break out with successful campaigns.

5. Ask Yourself If Your Current Brand Persona Is Working

Brand persona is the personification of a brand through specific values and character. It is essentially the human face of a brand.

Oftentimes we build a brand persona that matches our brand image, but doesn’t seem to connect with audiences. Even though it doesn’t make logical sense, we have to respect the results and adjust.

It’s possible that our brand persona has grown outdated, or it’s possible that our audience has changed. Whatever the case, this type of re-evaluation and adjustment is essential for brand growth.

Tying Everything Together

We can greatly influence our brand image. However, we can’t, no matter how hard we try, have ultimate control over it. Accepting this reality is key to a better brand image.

Be willing to try new things, get creative and go the extra mile in research to truly understand how to push for a more impactful brand.

picture of cory schmidt

Cory Schmidt - Head of Marketing I Canto

Cory is the Head of Marketing at Canto. He draws on years of experience to help marketers understand topics like brand management, demand generation and digital asset management.