Brand Perception Is More Important Than Ever

Kimberly Surico |
 06/08/20 |
6 min read

Brand Perception Is More Important Than Ever

With hit after hit coming hard at society, it is crucial for brands to be perceived as supportive/understanding. It’s also important for that brand perception to be solidly established ahead of a crisis. At times like these, brand perception is more important than ever!

In this brand health exploration, we’ll touch on crucial components to consider as you move forward with strategizing messaging during these delicate times, including:

  • Establishing a baseline for good deeds as part of your brand’s mission
  • How to measure brand impact
  • Understanding brand ambassadors and how they can help

And brand managers will be interested in the following findings:

  • Trendsetting Gen Z makes up 41% of the global population, making them top consumers to watch
  • 65% of influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2020.
  • 89% of shoppers are more loyal to brands that share their values.


Brand Perception Baseline

Social injustice is all around us and brands need to make defining decisions around how to move forward accordingly. How a brand presents itself and what it does to meet the needs of its audience and the broader market will be noted.

When conflict arises, the decision to stay silent will hurt a company. 89% of consumers are more apt to buy and stay loyal to companies that share their values, so speaking up and out is important. Here are a few examples of brands doing it right.

June 2nd marked #blackouttuesday, a day committed to bringing recognition to the violence against Black Americans everywhere. In response to the tragedy involving George Floyd’s death, Nickelodeon sent their message of love and support to black communities, by going silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on live TV. Additionally, they created a Declaration of Kids Rights.



And it’s not just this show of support, Nickelodeon has continuity of character, as demonstrated by this Nickelodeon fan site on Twitter, a great example of consumer generated content (UGC):


And they weren’t the only big brands speaking out and calling for unity….


With a promotional video that says, “they were one of us,” McDonalds got right down to the nitty gritty and listed the names of 7 victims of “systemic oppression and violence.” They also donated 1 million to the National Urban League and the NAACP.

And McDonalds isn’t new to fighting oppression, it’s agency, Wieden and Kennedy, have long supported social justice with themed advertisement for clients like Nike, whose most recent spotlight, is the For Once, Don’t Do It ad.



And once again, this brand has a history of fighting bigotry and injustice. In 2017 Nike launched their Equality Campaign, and in 2018 they released an ad with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who kneeled in protest during the National Anthem.

The list continues with everyone’s favorite animated hero, Disney.


Donating 5 million to non-profit organizations such as the NAACP, Disney is spreading the message of togetherness and dreaming of a better future. And like other savvy brands, they’ve reached out on social media to state their support:


The Mouse has spoken, and 11 thousand people re-tweeted this post and 63 thousand loved it.

Each brand needs to make its own decisions, of course. But brands that get these ethical dilemmas wrong are often publicly outed. There were a good number that called it wrong around COVID-19, with offenses spanning employee lay-offs without payment, to million-dollar companies asking for handouts while still living a lavish lifestyle. Appearing boorish and insensitive can result in brand health being threatened, or a company being boycotted all together.

Understanding brand impact is more important now than ever…


Measuring Brand Perception & Impact

Companies looking to stay one step ahead are using competitive intelligence to help them understand consumers, and industry challenges, on a deeper level.

Using Nike as an example, in this section we will explore tools that can help you:

  • See where your brand stands against its own past performance in various categories
  • View sentiment for your company vs others
  • Refine search results based on demographics, such as age.
  • And view share of voice to better understand various conversations and how they interact with your brand

Using the Quid product to go back and view the history of conversation over the past 4 years surrounding Nike, the timeline view helps us understand where Nike and social justice are intertwined. Education has always been a priority to Nike, and there is significant mention of their Get Woke ad. And most recently is their activism as it relates to George Floyd Protests.


Gen Z & Millennial Understanding

With Generation Z and Millennials dominating online conversation and defining top trends, and with 41% of the world’s population under the age of 24, knowing how your company is viewed by these youngsters is important in knowing how to reach them. Setting the filter for the age demographic of 18-34-year-old, we can see how the Nike conversation categories are changed and ranked. Retail is first, and Nike’s Get Woke Ad is in 3rd with education coming in 4th. George Floyd is 5th, and once again Kaepernick takes many of the other categories.


This is important consumer and market intelligence for creating future campaigns.

As is being able to compare your brands share of voice against others. It can help you see where you are succeeding, and where you need to raise your volume a bit more!


And sometimes the way to stay on the forefront of any conversation in a positive way is to lead by real-world example. Your employees often offer ready access to most demographics . . .

Employees as Brand Ambassadors

Employees represent your brand in every possible way. Some as influencers, others as Brand Ambassadors, and sometimes both.

Let’s look at what having a Brand Ambassador can do for your company:

  • They bring more awareness to your brand via social media, one of the top used advertising platforms
  • Having an employee interact genuinely and enthusiastically on your behalf with consumers can potentially help customers feel comfortable with your brand
  • Having access to your employee’s Twitter, Tumblr or Reddit account insights, you can see who is interacting and how they feel about it, as well as other demographics such as age, ethnicity, gender and location.

Here are some Influencer Marketing stats:

  • 65% of influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2020.
  • 89% say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels
  • 17% of companies spend over half their marketing budget on influencers.

By selecting happy employees as influencers and brand ambassadors a brand can then begin monitoring interactions, giving them a deeper level of understanding into their consumer base.

Let’s see how this works.

Employee Ambassador in Action

Our “employee” Bernie is a steady influencer and brand ambassador for McDonalds in this pleasant fiction. He begins tweeting…


After engaging people genuinely through social media, posting about the great pay and medical benefits one can receive through the golden arches, McDonalds accesses his Twitter feed through a social listening tool. They have no actual control over Bernie’s social media, only the insights it receives.

The summary metrics below let us see how many posts over a selected period of time Bernie is making, as well as total impressions, mentions from other people, and net sentiment. His net sentiment is holding steady with his potential impressions off-the-charts.


Pealing back layers of net sentiment, we can view the overall emotions that are expressed over his posts. The words Like, Craving and Good all stand out as positives, while Bad and Mad represent negative sentiments.


Filtering further to reveal photo concepts attached to the word Happy, Sad, or Neutral, the size of the word indicates the levels of emotion and conversation generated. Here we see our Happy examples connected to our “employee” Bernie and his media outlets.


Over-all, this employee seems to be doing his part to promote a healthy view of McDonalds, and we can tell this thanks to social analytics powered by next generation AI.

When it comes to brand health, you don’t need a million different tools, rather you need one that is versatile and complete, especially when navigating social justice issues. Making sure that you are being sensitive to every demographic out there is vastly important. Reach out and let us help you find the tools you need to succeed.


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