Perception is our reality

Understanding how someone perceives a situation or interprets what they are presented with is at the core of working on a brand.

A brand marketer shapes all the touch points their audience has with the brand and has to consider how their audience might react; and putting yourself fully in someone else’s shoes is easier said than done.

Have you ever had those moments in the office where you approach a problem with one perspective and a colleague does so with an entirely different one? I know i have. It takes time and patience to stop and consider how the other person perceives things, but if we do then what we uncover can be powerful.

This week I had my regular 1:1 fragrance training with one of the most remarkable humans on the planet, Ron Winnegrad. He reminded me of the importance of pausing and understanding the perspectives of others. His blog is a sage reminder on life’s lessons that we could all benefit from taking heed of. And his beautiful illustrations always make me pause for thought.


This important life lesson got me thinking about how it echoes onto what we do in crafting brands. If we haven’t fully considered how the audience could respond to something we do then the resulting action may not be what we expect. Take for example the iconic packaging change blunder from Tropicana. It may have been a brave foot forward with objectives to contemporize the look of the brand but not fully understanding how their audience respond resulted in them seeing massive sales declines and having to reverse the change after only two months. Consumers had an emotional bond with key design elements on the original and took to social media to share their perspective and the dip in sales was further evidence. The branding journal does a great job of breaking down the detail of this case study – check it out.


When I worked on Degree deodorant we took head of this case study as we evolved the brand’s visual identity. We conducted qualitative research to gain deeper understanding of what elements we couldn’t remove or change, and executed changes over time and via incremental innovation lines. The approach paid off but the story may have been very different if we hadn’t taken steps to fully understand the perspective of the audience.


Of course big research budgets can’t always be the answer. And in life we take less formal ways to understand our audience. But what holds true is the principle, which is beautifully encapsulated in ancient Greek historian, Herodotus’ proverb “haste in every business brings failures”.

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