No matter how carefully you craft your brand message or position yourself in the market, your audience will define your brand for themselves.

Misinterpretations or unaligned understandings can come in the form of how people interpret your positioning in the market, messaging, and visual components of your brand, such as logo and colours. Let’s have a look at some examples.

If you are a company that provides meal kits, you may originally focus on the fact that you are delivering healthy meals, encouraging your customers to eat a more balanced diet. However, your customers’ main reason for buying your product could be the convenience – not having to source the ingredients, meal planning, delivered to your door, ready to go! If your customers’ main priority is convenience, your brand should clearly communicate that. Your customers have defined the main selling point, so you should listen to them.

Similarly, you might use the colour blue in your branding to represent the serenity and calmness of your health centre, but your customers associate that shade of blue with their banking, which brings to their mind a more corporate environment. You may consider adjusting the shade of blue and other aspects of the brand, so it creates a more inviting, relaxed environment and holistic feel.

On the other hand, you may use a leaf shape in your logo to represent that all your snacks are vegan, using fresh ingredients, but your customers view the leaf as representing a company offering gardening services and find it misleading.

Brands are imagined by those who create them, but they are built by their customers. No one creates a brand just for themselves. Always put your audience before you, understand their deepest desires, and acknowledge why they should be a part of your branding experience.

Your customers’ words matter more than yours. But that doesn’t mean your words are not important. What you say, how you look, and what you do will influence their perceptions of your business. So it’s important to be intentional about these aspects and guide their interpretation. Whilst you can’t control their perceptions, you can guide them.

You should be in control of your brand and how people perceive you. But leverage insights from your audience to inspire you. They may realise qualities about you that you never realised.

Remember:

“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organisation.
Branding is about shaping that perception.”

– Ashley Friedlein


In conclusion, should you let your audience define your brand? Whether you like it or not, they will define it for themselves. But you should take an active role to guide and influence their perceptions. So it’s a balance – your brand should reflect you, but it should also attract your audience.

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