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Brand perception research: what, how and why? Free questionnaire and examples. 

In this article we zoom in deeper on what a brand perception study is, what its benefits are and we provide you with a detailed step-by-step-guide for conducting your own brand perception study.

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What is brand perception?

A brand perception is the general image that people have of an entity such as a company, person, or an organization. A brand perception is formed by the interaction people have with the entity. The way in which an entity presents itself, the experiences people have with it, and others’ view on the entity influence this brand perception. 

What are the benefits of a good brand perception?

It is not surprising that companies invest in research and marketing to achieve and maintain a good brand perception There are many advantages to a good brand perception. The three main benefits of a good brand perception are: 

  • Customer trust and loyalty. Numerous studies have shown that a positive brand perception leads to increased customer trust and loyalty. Research in consumer behaviour suggests that consumers are more likely to make purchases from brands that they have a positive perception of. This trust leads to repeat purchases and recommendation of the brand to others (Sources: Keller, 1993; Aaker, 1997). 

  • Competitive advantage. Scientific literature in marketing and strategic management supports the idea that a positive brand perception can provide a competitive advantage. A strong brand perception is often associated with higher customer preference and brand loyalty, allowing a company to differentiate itself from competitors and take a more dominant position in the market (Sources: Barney, 1991; Fombrun, 1996). 

  • Attracting talent. Studies in the field of human resources and organizational psychology have shown that companies with a positive reputation and a good brand perception are better able to attract talent. Potential employees are attracted to organizations that are considered ethical, socially responsible, and attractive. Thus, a positive brand perception can facilitate recruitment efforts and promote the retention of talented employees (Sources: Turban and Cable, 2003; Backhaus et al., 2002). 

What is brand perception research?

Brand perception research is the process by which a company, person or organization determines what brand perception they currently have. The purpose of brand perception research is to gain insight into how the target group sees the company, what associations they have with the company and what emotions it evokes. Because a positive brand perception can contribute to commercial success, these studies are carried out by for-profit companies. 

Why do companies conduct brand perception research? 

By means of brand perception research, companies gain insight into the brand perception that the company has among its target group. Three reasons why companies conduct brand perception research are: 

  • Insight into perceptions of the target audience. The main reason for conducting brand perception research is to gain insight into the image of the company. 

  • Measuring the effectiveness of marketing activities. By conducting structural brand perception research, it can be determined whether the brand perception of a company changes over the period in which marketing activities have been carried out. 

  • Identifying the 'Brand Gap'. By conducting image research, it becomes clear what the brand perception of a company is in the market. It is not uncommon for a company's brand perception to deviate from what they actually want to project. The difference between the current brand perception and what the company actually wants to project is also called the 'Brand Gap'. 

In short, companies conduct brand perception research to determine what the current brand perception is. When this is clear, (marketing) plans can be made to improve the brand perception. 

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Conduct brand perception research

Questions for brand perception research

Questions that you can answer by conducting brand perception research are: 

  • What brand perception do existing customers have of our company? 

  • What brand perception do potential customers have of our company? 

  • What brand perception do our suppliers have of our company? 

  • How does our brand perception compare to direct competition? 

  • Does our marketing campaign have an effect on our company's brand perception? 

  • To what extent does our brand perception match what we want to project? 

How do you conduct brand perception research?

You can use various qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct brand perception research. 

Quantitative methods for brand perception research 

Characteristic of quantitative methods is that they are often conducted with large groups (N>100), so that sufficient input is collected to generalize the results. Quantitative brand perception research is often carried out in combination with a brand awareness survey. 

  • Surveys. Although surveys can also be conducted in writing or by telephone, it is very common to use online surveys so that respondents can complete them at a time of their choosing. In addition to regular survey questions, (rapid) implicit association tests can be used to gain insight into the unconscious perceptions of respondents. 

  • Online monitoring. It is possible to see what the target audience says about a particular brand on social media. It is advisable to do this in combination with other methods, as the group that speaks out about a particular brand on social media may not be representative. 

Qualitative methods for brand perception research 

By using qualitative methods, in-depth insights can be gathered, often conducted among 10 to 30 respondents from the target group. In brand perception research, these qualitative methods are often combined with surveys. Examples of qualitative methods that can be used are: 

  • In-depth interviews. One-on-one conversations are held with respondents from the target group. The respondents are asked questions based on an interview guide. 

  • Focus groups. 5 - 8 respondents are invited to participate in a group discussion. The moderator discusses several topics on the basis of a topic list, after which respondents are asked to share their opinion on them. 

  • User testing. In this case, research is conducted on an existing website or app. During the survey, respondents are asked to think out loud and give their opinions. 

Combination of qualitative and quantitative methods 

For thorough brand perception research, it is advisable to combine quantitative and qualitative methods. For example, quantitative methods such as surveys and observations can provide insight into what the brand perception is. Qualitative methods can then be used to identify the underlying reasons.

Recruiting respondents for brand perception research

When you are going to conduct brand perception research, it is important to pay sufficient attention to recruiting respondents. This includes defining the target group, but also the numbers needed to be able to make reliable statements. Want to know more about recruiting respondents for UX and market research? Read our article on recruiting respondents. 

Step-by-step plan for conducting brand perception research

Do you want to conduct your own brand perception research? Then it is important to realize that the exact interpretation can vary based on the needs and context of the company. Below we share a general step-by-step plan that you can follow: 

  1. Objectives and scope. Define the questions you want to answer and the objectives of the brand perception research. Determine the entity (brand, organization, product) and the target audience. 
  2. Preparation and planning. Assemble a research team and assign tasks. Develop a timeline and budget. Choose the research methods based on objectives and available resources. 
  3. Develop the research tools. Create surveys, discussion guides, interview protocols, or other necessary tools. Test and validate the instruments if possible. 
  4. Target group criteria and sample. Establish clear target group criteria. Choose to conduct research among the entire target group or a selection of them. Determine the size and composition of the sample. Make sure the sample is representative of your target audience. 
  5. Data collection. Conduct surveys, conduct interviews, or organize focus groups, depending on the methods chosen. 
  6. Data-analysis. Encode and analyse qualitative data (if applicable). Perform statistical analysis on quantitative data. Identify patterns, trends, and significant findings. 
  7. Results interpretation. Understand the meaning of the data collected. Identify strengths and weaknesses in the current brand perception. 
  8. Reporting. Prepare a structured report that includes the methodology, findings, and recommendations. Use visual aids such as charts and tables for a clear presentation. 
  9. Recommendations and strategies. Formulate strategies to improve the brand perception based on the research results. Set measurable goals for the implementation of these strategies. 
  10. Implementation and evaluation. Implement the recommended strategies and track the results. Regularly measure progress and evaluate whether the brand perception is actually improving. 
  11. Iteration. If necessary, repeat the survey over time to evaluate progress and adjust the strategies. 

Examples and questionnaire

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