I find it interesting how our perception of a company/brand can change depending on our interaction with it. For instance, we see something advertised on TV and it comes across as professional. Our perception of the brand is created and is set high.
There is a magazine advert that we come across and again it is clear and professional looking. Perception remains high.
We wander into the mall and there is the store. Expecting good things we go in and are disappointed. Maybe the racks are disorganized or we have to wait in a queue for too long or the assistant is rude. Perception takes a dive.
Wary of the brand now, we hesitate when we get an email from them, but decide to take a look at their online site because maybe there is something worthwhile there. The online store is impressive and we find good deals, easy layout and checkout goes smoothly. Perception is lifted again.
We come across a tweet from someone who works at the company and it is an inappropriate rant, or a blog about some poor customer service situation. Our perception takes a dive and will probably not recover because we feel these are the real people talking, not some company image.
I like to think of myself as savvy about advertising – I know the supermarket tricks to make you buy the expensive brands, I read up on products before I purchase them, etc. Looking at this stream though, I can see how much I really am influenced by media. Hardly surprising that social media has become such a boon and fear at the same time.
Companies want to control their image which is much easier through traditional media channels. But being proactive with your coverage monitoring is important because you can quickly act on a negative story and hopefully turn it to something positive or at least mitigate further damage.
An example I came across the other day was Whole Foods. They have had some bad press lately for something – not sure what, but it lowered my perception of them. Not interested enough to go research out if the issue had merit or not. Then I watch Top Chef and they always use Whole Foods. My perception is restored because I figure these people should know what good food is and if it is good enough for them then that is fine with me.
Not that I ever shop at Whole Foods, but if I had one near me, I would at least visit it!