“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office. I wasn’t born to a wealthy or powerful family. Mother from Puerto Rico, dad from the South Bronx. I was born in a place where your zip code determines your destiny. My name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”. Those are the first words from the promo video of the U.S Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district.
A woman who came from nothing and was still able to build a political career with little finance (compared to her opponents) or a legacy as support. Her career was build by her voice. Her ability to stand up in what she believes and be the voice of many American citizens who never had a say in their country.
While we’d like to believe that every step she makes, every picture she posts on Instagram, and every word she says comes natural, in reality, her personal brand has been shaped in a way that it creates exactly the brand image that will help further her career. Without that image, it would be merely impossible for her to get her message across and make the change in the world that she, and many others, believe in.
Brand image is part of your branding and part of building a business. A part we often forget about as a business owner. AOC is the perfect example of the impact that brand image has. Thanks to a clear brand identity she has consistent messaging, connects with her constituents, successfully grew a career with limited resources, and may perhaps even become president of the United States one day.
What is a Brand Image?
According to Kotler, brand image is “the set of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person holds regarding an object”. The object being your brand in this case. This means that a brand image consists of the customer’s perception of all the different elements of your brand and their experience with the different interactions they have with your brand.
It starts from the moment a person first hears about your brand to their experience after purchasing. This is the horizontal aspect though but the brand image also runs vertically. The words you use, the color of your logo, the images you share on social media, and the type of models you use in your ads are all details that influence your brand image.
Brand image must not be confused with brand identity. Brand image is the perception of the consumer while brand identity is developed by the brand itself. A strategic brand identity can influence a brand image heavily, but it’s not the only variable that creates the perception.
Why is Brand Image Important?
I can give you 50 reasons why a brand image is important, but instead, I’ll just stick to the 3 most important ones.
1. Control the Narrative
I’m not the type who would leave anything to chance and let luck makes a play. I don’t have the privilege to do so. I believe in pulling my own growth. Take control and create my own opportunities. A brand image is something that is automatically created, whether you like it or not. However, by being aware of my brand image I can create a strategic brand identity to control how your ideal client perceives your brand giving you a greater chance to increase your sales.
2. Makes it Stick
Tell me and I forget, show me and I’ll remember. People won’t remember if you use cotton or nylon in your custom-made skirts or if your brownie has chocolate chips instead of cacao powder. They will remember how that skirt made them feel and the tickling session in their mouth when they had a bite of your brownie. They’ll remember how the waiter or sales representative made them feel comfortable and appreciated. Creating a brand image means creating an experience even when people aren’t buying your service or products. It what will make you memorable and the thing they talk about at dinner parties.
3. Makes You a Lifestyle
My hope is that after you read this blog post you’ll tell your husband, sister, a business-bestie about an insightful article you read about this topic. How the author achieved exactly what she told you she wanted to achieve. I hope to create value for my clients and change their lives in a way that they consider me part of their life. Nike has become part of the life of many—especially my boyfriend who believes Nike is the only brand that can make decent shoes (false)—Apple has become the poster-child for innovation and a pop-culture cult. All because of their brand image!
Take a hard look at your brand and communication. What do you feel it says about you? Now ask others to describe your business. Are they even able? Does it match your perception of your own brand? If it doesn’t, then it might be time to get to work and start consciously building your brand image.