Perception is reality. And that is precisely the premise of image marketing, an essential concept for any business to thrive in a highly competitive marketplace. But what exactly does it mean, and how can you create a successful image marketing campaign for your product or business? Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Image Marketing and Why Is It Important?
Image marketing is about creating and projecting a positive image of your business or product to shape your stakeholder perception.
Although many people often use the terms “brand” and “image” interchangeably, these are two different marketing concepts. A brand is often a cumulative representation of branding elements—from a brand name to a logo—that creates a unique identity for a product.
The image, on the other hand, represents how your stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, potential employees, business partners, investors, and the general public, perceive your product.
But the latter is not entirely outside your control. You can devise specific strategies to influence and shape your stakeholders’ perceptions. This is what image marketing campaigns are designed to do.
And why is this important? A positive image creates a positive impression. Customers want to purchase from companies they see in a positive light, and vendors want to do business with organizations with a good market perception.
Overall, your image helps you attract new customers, grow sales, build loyalty, compete better, expand market share, and develop effective partnerships to create a successful business.
How Can You Create an Effective Image Marketing Campaign?
Here are practical strategies for you to adopt today and create a positive brand image.
Understand your stakeholders
The stakeholders of your organization are not just limited to your customers. There are a variety of others who are pivotal for your business to succeed.
For instance, you need to build partnerships with reliable vendors, hire talented staff, and seek critical funding from lenders and investors. They all represent important stakeholders whose perception of your company matters for business growth.
Before you engage with them to create a positive brand image, you must understand who these stakeholder groups are. What is their age, gender, geographic location, education level, and profession? What needs, dreams, aspirations, and goals do they have? How do they interact with your organization, and what are their expectations?
You must gain an in-depth understanding of each stakeholder group, especially your customers, by profiling them based on demographic and psychographic factors.
For this, you need to conduct market research. For example, you can carry out surveys and focus groups. Analyze existing data in your possession, including customer databases and vendor screening information. You can also use Leadar in your stakeholder research to gain vital insights.
The more data you have, the better you can understand your stakeholders and create a more effective perception of your products and business.
Define your brand image
A good place to start is by evaluating your existing image against perception. Remember, what you think you project might contrast with how your customers and others perceive your business. By conducting research, you can identify any gaps in the projected and perceived image.
Next, determine how you want to be seen. This could change over time as your business grows and expands into new areas.
But an image should be unique to help get noticed in a cluttered market. There should also be absolute harmony between your brand image, core values, business operations, and stakeholders.
For instance, you may want to be seen as a caring, professional, and innovative business. But is this who you really are? Does your product line and service standards represent this image? Can your audience relate to it?
Align your branding
When deployed effectively, branding creates important sensory perceptions.
Your logo, brand colors, and imagery, for example, visually represent your image. Some brands, such as Intel, Netflix, Mastercard, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft, use creative sonic signatures, too. Apple, Samsung, and McDonald’s even use unique olfactory cues.
All these are essential elements for creating a brand identity. You can use them to craft and project your business’s brand image. This may require applying marketing principles like color psychology and market testing before you nail your brand elements. An experienced marketing agency could help and guide you through this process.
Create brand messages
When used on its own, branding could lead to misinterpretations. This is why articulating your brand image by creating key brand messages is crucial.
However, keep in mind that your image could mean different things to different stakeholders. So, while crafting your core messages, you may need to make slight adjustments to make them more meaningful and relevant to your customers, business partners, and others without losing the gist of what you are trying to convey.
Determine key marketing activities
Your business’s actions must be consistent with your words. If they don’t, doubt and skepticism could arise, resulting in distrust.
For 81% of customers, trust is critical for their purchasing decisions. Therefore, you must do everything possible to keep it intact.
Creating a positive experience and reinforcing your projected image through marketing activities is essential for this. Here are a few important considerations to take into account when designing your image marketing campaign:
- Align your entire customer experience with your brand image. For example, if you want to be seen as a caring business, develop personalized experiences for your customers to demonstrate that you have taken the time to understand their unique needs and aspirations. If you would like to be perceived as innovative, adopt the latest technological tools and techniques to your marketing programs.
- Integrate advertising, content marketing, social media, email campaigns, newsletters, loyalty programs, influencers, and events to communicate your brand image and create frequent and consistent engagement with your stakeholders.
- Leverage testimonials and reviews to reaffirm your image through existing stakeholder experiences.
- Be mindful of your external associations and partnerships. Whether you are selecting a vendor or a marketing influencer, ensure they align with your brand values.
- Track and monitor marketing activities to gain valuable data insights for improving your campaign.
An effective image marketing campaign doesn’t just project a certain brand image; it will also influence customer perceptions and behaviors.
In addition to your marketing activities, your product quality, price, and customer service must all be in line with the image you want to project. Formulating policies and training employees is also essential for building long-term partnerships with your stakeholders and creating consistent positive experiences.