What influences people’s decisions to buy from a brand?
We all have mental images of companies, organisations, products, brands and corporate personalities. These images influence our decisions to buy and to invest. If we don’t know what people think of our brand, or what they think of our competitor’s brand, we are disadvantaged.
We buy from brand names we know and trust and through the recommendations and referrals made by people we know and trust. The more we know about a company, the clearer the mental image we develop of it. If the mental image is a good one, we are more inclined to buy the company’s products and services. It can be as simple as that really ….. but with considerations.
When people don’t know anything about a company – perhaps due to a poor or neglected online presence – they can’t form an opinion about it and will be very reluctant to buy anything. By converting that ignorance into knowledge we place the person in a better position to make a buying decision and to consider our company ahead of the competitor’s.
Brands used to be bought for three main reasons:
- Functional benefits (because it will do the job).
- Psychic value (because it says something about the kind of person I am).
- Investment value (it must be a good investment).
Empathy – being able to see the world as others see it
Today, the timing and relevance of what a product or service provides is key to decision-making. And with everyone’s lives being disrupted all the time, the power of brands is particularly obvious. Those which are winning are building empathy and trust with consumers and stakeholders by creating campaigns that are relevant and speak honestly to the issues of the day. Increasingly these campaigns have PR at their heart.
An example of this was the State Street’s Fearless Girl campaign by McCann New York, which was built on facts and a strong commercial idea, namely that women-led start-ups are underfunded by venture capitalists but consistently over-deliver on ROI. The story could have been told via a press release or briefing – instead a strong, emotional message was delivered by means of a small girl taking on the Charging Bull of Wall Street. It had an emotional connection with people.
Attitudes towards a brand matter
Attitudes and opinions towards a brand play a big role in decision making and very often the job of the PR person is to change them, a very challenging area in public relations.
If someone is hostile towards a company, it’s the PR job to try to inform that person as much as possible so that they gain an understanding of what happened. And where there is prejudice, to try and convert this to acceptance. The latter is difficult to overcome because few people understand why they are prejudiced against a person or a company or a brand.
The hardest attitude to deal with is apathy. I have encountered this many times with people who have no interest in a subject because they see it as unrelated or irrelevant to them.
People’s mindsets change when change is embraced. The value of hearing someone with something to say to his\her community is not only good for personal brand, it boosts the reputation of a company because we are hearing the voices of our people. And that is powerful.
Mirror Image – we are all guilty of self-delusion in some way
This is what companies or individuals believe to be true of themselves. The mirror image may or may not be true. It’s not that anyone is deliberately trying to mislead, it’s more so that they are deluding themselves. We are all guilty of self-delusion in some way e.g. how often have you seen a man or woman walking down the street dressed in something hideous, which they believed was beautiful when they looked in the mirror that morning. Companies are guilty of making the same mistake.
A business must deal truthfully with the image held of it by its’ stakeholders, and not be delusional. We all have a wish of how we’d like our brand to be perceived by our target market, and may find that this will vary according to the experience our publics have had with our services, products and employees. Being clear about who we are as a brand, and why we do what we do, will help to accurately craft and communicate the right messages, which in turn will help to build brand awareness and trust with those that matter to us and to our bottom line.
If you’d like to discuss your brand’s corporate image and corporate identity, please get in touch via my Contact page.