3 Brand perception survey questions that reveal voice of customer

“We really need to listen to the voice of the customer.”

If you’ve never heard this phrase before, then you either walk around with your headphones in all day or you’ve never worked at a startup. 89 percent of companies are using customer experience as a way to differentiate and compete.

If 9 in 10 companies are investing in voice of customer (VoC), isn’t it about time you did, too?

While VoC and customer experience programs can be vast and complicated, sometimes simpler is better. As Lao Tzu once said, “The longest journeys start with a single step.”

Customer experience is all about brand awareness and how brands make a person feel. It’s all about perception.

If you don’t already have a VoC team at your company, you can get a ton of immediate value by sending your customers or target customers brand perception survey.

These types of surveys have a long history of providing us marketers with the bearings we need to quickly understand how consumers perceive the brands we work for.

Today we’ll look at 3 brand perception survey questions you can use jump-start any VoC or customer experience initiative.

1. How does <Brand> make you Feel?

It might sound a little vague but one of the best questions you can ask a consumer is simply this:

How does <Brand> make you feel?

Allow your respondents to provide open-ended answers and then go through and categorize/classify what they say.

Why is this such a smart question? Depending on how many people you ask, you can use the results in several meaningful ways:

  • Measure true sentiment: Take all of the responses you receive and classify them as negative, neutral, or positive to see if people are overall for or against you
  • Determine salience: Neutral comments are sometimes worse than negative opinions because it means people don’t even know your brand well enough to form an opinion
  • Trending emotion: Asking this survey question regularly allows you to trend your sentiment and salience scores, which means you can then set objective goals for improving the experience.

In addition to the tactics you can implement to quantify this question, it is also a qualitative gold mine. The anecdotes that people provide you with can completely transform your marketing strategy.

brand perception survey - emotions

One example that comes to mind is a restaurant delivery service. Consumers said that the brand made them feel lazy or languid–which means lazy if you’re too languid to look it up like me.

Once the brand understood that there was some emotional guilt going on in the heads of their customers, it allowed them to start speaking with their customers on another level. Now they invite people to treat themselves and quiet that voice of guilt in their heads because they’re not lazy, they’re worth it.

What a great example of how just changing how you speak about your product with your customers can fundamentally change the customer experience.

2. How likely are you to recommend <Brand>?

One of the cornerstones of the VoC community is the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

NPS is a measure of customer affinity on a scale of -100 to +100. Anything greater than zero is technically good, but companies strive for different numbers based on their industries (e.g., online shopping retailers consider a score of 56 to be good).

To calculate your NPS score, you must first ask the question:

How likely are you to recommend <Brand> to a friend or colleague?

Collect responses on a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is the most likely to recommend and 1 is the least likely to recommend.

Once all the responses have been tallied, subtract the percentage of people who answered 1 through 6 from the percentage of people who answered 9 or 10.

NPS is ultimately a metric that you can track over time and set goals against as you try to improve the customer’s experience. It has become the core key performance indicator (KPI) in the VoC world, and it all stems from a brand perception survey question.

3. Which brand do you prefer?

The first two questions we looked at were focused on how consumers feel about a particular brand. It’s also helpful to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of how your brand is seen relative to the other brands in the category.

You can learn a lot by asking:

Which brand of <product category> do you prefer?

This question can either be asked in an open-ended fashion or with a list of brands provided in a multiple-choice list.

brand perception survey - example crops

The first thing to look for is the percentage of consumers who simply don’t have a preference. If you see a product category with low preference, it typically means one of two things:

  1. New product categories often don’t have a high preference because many consumers haven’t purchased from any of the brands in the category.
  2. Consumers don’t typically have a high degree of preference in commodity industries

After looking at no preference, move on to examine which brands have the highest degree of preference.

In more mature product categories, you can expect the number one brand to have 50 percent or more of the total preference. The number two brand will typically have up to a third of consumer preference. The remaining preference is split between all the rest of the brands in the category.

This phenomenon is also known as the Law of the Category according to Al Ries in the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.

Understanding consumer preference is critical, as it can tell you when to push harder to win market share in your own product category and when to abandon crowded spaces in order to create a new, uncompetitive product category where you can be the number one preferred brand.

Going from measuring marketing to measuring the market

Market research, analytics, and business intelligence all exist to help us make more sense of the marketing we produce and its effect on the consumers we want to reach.

And yet, many of our measurement tools only allow us to measure the things we control: websites, social media properties, ad platforms, etc.

But what about the rest of the places on the Internet that we don’t control? Heck, what about the entire physical world?

There are so many more ideas and perceptions out there about your brand that can’t possibly be seen by looking at your internally-focused dashboards and reports.

This realization is the first step in going from measuring your marketing to measuring the market.

In order to measure the market, you need to have consistent, meaningful ways to quantify and qualify the thoughts and opinions of all consumers, not just your customers or prospects.

Introducing brand perception questions like the ones described above as a part of an ongoing consumer surveying strategy is a brilliant way to measure and grow your brand.

If you’re struggling to think of a list of questions to use, take these three questions and put them into any survey platform. Then identify a good group of consumers either through digital advertising, email lists, or a consumer panel/surveying service.

Getting this all set up takes less than a half hour once per quarter, and the information you’ll learn as a result will often trump even the most exciting insights that our analytics platforms can reveal.

If you haven’t started asking brand perception survey questions yet, get started today and be amazed by how much your VoC efforts will advance.

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About the author:
Josh Braaten

Josh Braaten

Josh is the CEO and Cofounder of BrandishInsights.com, a market research company and the world’s first brand analytics platform. Josh is fascinated by the intersection of performance and brand marketing and strives to help all marketers build brilliant brands.

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