My entire life, my mom has always told me, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

But in today’s skim-and-go atmosphere, that’s exactly what people do — and your brand identity is your business’s “cover.” 

And while my mom was concerned with judging books, my grandmother continually warned me, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”

That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your brand conveys the kind of message, and gives the kind of impression that you want it to. And the only way to find out for sure is to conduct a brand identity survey.

You’ve probably seen (or even taken) a few of these surveys for the giants out there in the business world. However, it can be daunting to try to do your own for your “little” business. But don’t worry, it’s not that hard. To help you get started with your brand identity survey, I’m going to share with you some survey questions from Constant Contact’s online survey tool.

What does your brand say?

I’ve dedicated a lot of time and attention to my brand, and I really hope it conveys what I want it to. But hope really isn’t enough, is it?

When it comes to business, we have to know if something is working like it’s supposed to. That’s why it’s important to conduct brand identity surveys. 

When we’re conducting a brand identity survey, we’re trying to find out what our customer’s perceptions of our company are. 

The perceptions of our customers are based on everything from our logo to their personal interactions with us. From everything on our website to how we answer our phone. Even the brands we carry in our store or use to complete our services.

A brand identity is based on customer perceptions created through visual elements, language and tone, customer/prospect interactions and product/service names

What to ask in your brand identity survey

When conducting a survey of any kind, it’s important that your questions and answer options are clear and concise. It’s also important that you ask the questions that will provide you with the answers you’ll need to improve.

I want to emphasize how important it is to keep an open mind when conducting a survey. Know that you may get some negative feedback. But with the right frame of mind, those negative responses can lead you to make adjustments that can improve your brand identity in ways you never thought of.

In the spirit of learning, here are some sample questions to get you started:

Sample questions for a brand identity survey

  1. Have you purchased or used our products/services within the past year? – The answer for this one should be a single-select, clear YES or NO.
  2. How long have you been a customer? – The answers to this multiple-choice question should allow for only a single selection. Here are  some potential answers:
    • Less than 6 months
    • 6 months to less than a year
    • 1 year to less than 2 years
    • 2 years to less than 5 years
    • 5 or more years
  3. When you hear our business’s name, what main idea comes to mind (something we stand for)? – You can set this question up to be either open-ended text or a single selection from multiple-choices. Which question type you select depends upon whether you already have ideas you have tried to convey through your marketing or advertising as well as the number of survey responses you expect to receive. If you expect many responses, you may wish to use a multiple-choice question for ease of analyzing the data; otherwise, an open-ended question may lead you to find unexpected trends in responses. If you use multiple-choice, be sure to include an “other” choice.
  4. What do we do that makes us unique from competitors? – Just like the last question, you can choose to allow for an open-ended text answer, but instead of only allowing for a single selection, you allow your responders to select more than one answer in a multiple-choice question. Again, which one you use depends on if you have already done some research on, or have knowledge about, your competitors and have been trying to message competitive differences.
  5. What is our specialty? – If you already have specialties that you have tried to convey, you can easily make this a multi-select, multiple-choice question, as I mentioned above. If not, then allow open-ended text responses on this one and see what people “think” your specialty might be.
  6. Compared with competitors, where do we rank in this specialty? – This answer option for this one would have a scale that allows your responder to choose only one of the options from great to terrible. Answer choices might include:
    • Much better than competitors
    • Somewhat better than competitors
    • The same as competitors
    • Somewhat worse than competitors
    • Much worse than competitors
  7. If we aren’t #1, who is and why? – This is a tough question to ask. It’s also a great question if you’re working to become the #1 go-to business for your specialty or niche. If you’re not sure who your competitors are, leave this as an open-ended text response. And if you know who your direct competitors are, then you can make this a multiple-choice option that allows for only a single selection.
  8. What do you want or need most from businesses in this specialty? – While you may have an idea of what your customers want most, it’s best to make the answer option for this open-ended. Give your respondents some time and space to do some thinking for you. You never know, they might come up with something that you’re not providing, but should.
  9. Is there an unaddressed need that we should focus on? If yes, what is it? – Of course, this has to be a two-part question, with a single-select YES or NO option as well as a comments area to capture the need.

What if I have more questions?

These questions are to get you thinking about what you might want or need to know about your customers’ perceptions of your brand. If you think of other questions, by all means, add them to your survey. By the same token, remove any that you don’t think are necessary. It’s up to you.

Just be sure not to overwhelm your customers with too many questions. Most of us are glad to take a short survey, especially if there’s a reward, but if it goes on too long many of us won’t bother to finish it, no matter the reward. So try to keep it short and to the point.

TIP: If you’re thinking of writing your own questions, keep in mind that it’s not just what you ask, but how you ask it that is key to getting what you need out of your survey. For more insight into writing a survey, check out this article on How to Write Good Survey Questions.

What if the answers aren’t what I expected?

Hopefully, most of the answers are what you expected them to be, or what you hoped they would be. If you had some unexpected answers or it was clear that your respondents aren’t perceiving your brand the way you intended, then it’s time to dig deeper.

First look closely at the responses to your open-ended questions. Did anyone have anything insightful to say? Maybe the key to improving your brand identity is in one of your respondents’ answers.

Is there a consensus that one of your competitors is better than you? If no one could articulate why, study your competitor and see if you can figure it out yourself. Then see what you can do to compete. For instance, maybe your competitor doesn’t fulfill an “unaddressed need,” but you can. To be more competitive, you can emphasize your new benefit in your next marketing campaign. You can even reach out directly to that respondent and let them know that you not only appreciated their feedback, but you took their suggestion to heart and are now addressing the need that they expressed in the survey.

When to reach back out

While my ‘what if’ scenario above is a great example of when to reach back out to your survey respondents, there are a couple more reasons that you might want to reach back out to them.

  • Always thank your respondents for completing a survey. When using Constant Contact’s survey tool you can say “thank you” on the closing page of the survey. You can even include a link in the closing page that will take your customers to an email marketing campaign, a downloadable file that’s saved in your account’s library, or any other landing page you’d like to share with them. 
  • If you find that you might need to tweak your brand message or identity (or even rebrand) in order to change your customers’ perceptions, think about asking some of your more articulate and helpful respondents to be part of additional surveys. Then you can create a new survey that allows this select group of customers to give you feedback on colors, design, copy (text) and other aspects of your brand.

TIP: Just like when you ask anyone to take a survey, and especially if you ask some individuals to complete more surveys, offer them something in exchange: Discount coupon codes, free shipping on their next order, or if you have a points program — bonus points. All of these make great offers in exchange for their time and honest feedback.

Why you should conduct a brand identity survey today

Brand identity surveys allow you to find out if your brand is really saying what you want it to. And that information can shape the direction you move with your business, whether it’s to include a new product or service, increase brand awareness, or even rebrand with a new logo, new colors, and new marketing copy. 

Most importantly, letting your customers know that you care about what they have to say and showing that you are willing to improve things based on their opinions, can go a long way in improving customer relationships, sales, and even donations.

If you haven’t done a brand identity survey yet, I recommend that you create and set one up today. 

And to keep a finger on the pulse of your customer’s perceptions, plan on conducting the survey periodically throughout the growth cycle of your business. Depending on whether you’ve made recent changes to your brand or not you could conduct the survey as often as every year — making adjustments to the questions each year, based upon the answers from the previous year. 

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