Brands often elicit an immediate reaction from consumers. They might make us feel warm and valued thanks to the excellent customer experience we had with them. Or we might perceive them as low quality as we recall their poor or unimaginative advertising.

Our perceptions of a brand can be hard to shift. For this to work, a company needs to demonstrate that they really understand us and are listening to what we have to say.

But building this level of radical empathy for your consumers is no easy feat, which is where data and perception marketing comes in. Today’s data provides brands with the fundamental truths they need to uncover to transform brand perceptions.

Here are three ways to make this change with the help of data-driven insights:

1. Understand how people really perceive your brand.

Many companies believe their products or services to be the best in the market. The reality, however, is often different and relying on gut feeling or anecdotal evidence can be costly.

Trusted consumer data gives brands the intelligence they need – detailing exactly what customers like and don’t like about your brand, and why they feel this way.

  • Is your latest ad campaign alienating your target audience?
  • Is your customer service far too slow to respond?

Such data can also reveal insights around how this influences their behavior.

  • Does it prompt them to spend less, unsubscribe, share negative experiences or seek competitor brands?

This information can also provide insights into how they feel about rival brands and why, intelligence which can be hugely illuminating.

  • What are competitors doing that you’re not?

2. Pinpoint your customers’ needs, interests and desires.

Today’s consumers are complex people with intricate needs. They have increasingly high expectations of brands – demanding speed, efficiency, convenience, relevance and personalization.

Data will reveal exactly what drives the different segments of your audience, uncovering their everyday motivations and challenges, and identifying how you can make their lives easier.

Our recently launched Brand data set, for example, reveals powerful insights for companies to understand the digital behaviors and attitudes of current, lapsed and potential customers.

In a comparison of Coke and Coke Zero consumers, our data shows some key points of difference between drinkers of the two products, revealing Coke Zero drinkers to be:

  • 15% more likely to be on Instagram.
  • 33% more likely to watch videos on Snapchat.
  • 15% more likely to be interested in reality TV.

These insights give brands the tools to create products and messaging that actually resonates with their target audience, empowering them to reach consumers at the right time using the right channel.

Find out exactly who you are talking to and what makes them tick.

3. Tap into your audience’s emotions.

Data can reveal an emotional truth that enables a brand to forge a meaningful connection with consumers, making them feel understood and valued.

Take a look at Dove’s 2013 Real Beauty Sketches campaign – rooted in the fact that more than half of women globally are their own worst critics when it comes to how they look.

The insight that women’s self-perception is much lower than it should be spawned a powerful campaign that saw women describe themselves to FBI forensic artist, Gil Zamora, who then drew them based on their descriptions.

“What has stayed with me are the emotional reactions the women had when they viewed the composite sketches hung side by side”, says Zamora. “I think many of these brave women realized that they had a distorted self-perception that had affected parts of their lives in significant ways.”

More than 50 million people viewed the Dove video within 12 days of its release. To date, Real Beauty Sketches has been viewed almost 180 million times.

The insight gave rise to a campaign which was both compelling and memorable, bestowing Dove with sincerity, consideration and empathy.

More recently, SportEngland’s This Girl Can campaign used data to give rise to a potent insight: the fear of judgement by others is what holds many women back from participating in sport.

The ensuing campaign – born out of stats like ‘one woman in every four says they “hate the way” they look when they exercise or play sport’ – prompted lines including “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” and “I kick balls, deal with it”. It was aimed at normalizing women who exercise, inspiring and encouraging them to overcome their fear.

1.6m women started exercising as a result of the campaign, while the number of women playing sport and being active is now increasing faster than the number of men.

What values do you want consumers to associate with your brand? Find out what moves them – and use it to make them sit up and take notice.

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