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2 minute read - by Jan Van Lysebettens

Brand values vs. brand perception: test your hypothesis

We’ve already touched on how a co-creative approach to selecting brand values leads to a solution that is generally unbiased – from an internal perspective. But no matter how “right” you get your brand values from the inside, if they don’t resonate with your target audience, your approach will fall flat. This is why it’s vital to test your hypothesis – and involving your real-life users is your best bet.

Quantitative tests: steer your brand value exercise toward success

Even if your brand value exercise went well and you have your three to five strong proposals in hand, it’s important to gauge what users think about them. In some cases, even before selecting your brand values, it can be beneficial to use quantitative user testing as input for your exercise. However, most user testing happens once branding choices have already been outlined.

A short survey is a great way to gain more insights into how customers perceive your brand and enables you to identify discrepancies between how you want to be perceived and how you are perceived.

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Showcase: municipality of Zedelgem

We distributed a survey to Zedelgem citizens containing the same exercises that we had planned for a branding workshop with municipality stakeholders. Specifically, we asked residents to choose from four well-known personalities in answering: “If Zedelgem were a celebrity, which of these four would it be?”

Their responses gave us a clear indication of how people actually living in the town actually perceived their city – and which vibe we needed to capture during the rebranding exercise. For example, while city leaders perceived the colour green to have strong political implications, the citizens themselves actually associated it more with nature. The results of this research-based approach further underlined the importance of rebranding. At the same time, it also proved to be a great way to remove personal biases and preferences from the equation during the brand values discussion.

City stakeholders knew upfront how the municipality needed to be perceived, making it straightforward to translate these values into a justified visual proposal.


Qualitative tests: make sure you evoke the right emotions

During a rebranding track, we often organise a short qualitative user test to gather detailed feedback from a select group of customers regarding a customer’s new visual direction. Doing so allows us to validate our design decisions with the target audience and ensure we’ve picked the right path to good brand perception.

That being said, we can’t simply present a bunch of logo proposals to people and ask them to share their opinions about them. Branding is, of course, about much more than just a logo. Context is critical in evoking the right feelings in a target audience. With this in mind, at Leap Forward, we usually test our design direction after beginning work on a new website or other tangible branding application.

Qualitative user tests at this point in the rebranding exercise allow us to assess all the concrete elements that make or break a brand – and it’s the perfect opportunity to gauge the tone of voice, art direction, and even the general desirability of your product or service.

Are you who your customers want you to be?

Who you want to be as a company, who you truly are, and how your audience perceives your brand may be very different beasts. But by involving users before a brand values exercise and during the design process, you can break free of the dreaded echo chamber, manage risks and ensure a (new) brand that plays well with all stakeholders.


Creative Lead

Jan Van Lysebettens

Jan is an experienced senior designer and developer who’s really passionate about creating beautiful designs and turning them into fully functional digital experiences. He combines a strong sense for aesthetics with an analytical approach to turn a client’s vision into meaningful digital products.

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