There’s a saying that you’ve probably heard time and time again. It goes something like, “perception is reality,” and it usually means whatever someone sees or feels to be valid — regardless of whether it is or not — is their truth. 

In the digital space, the truth of the matter is no brand owns its perception 100 percent; ownership falls into the hands of the consumer. And to take that truth just one step further, the perception of a brand lives and dies in the mind of the consumer. That’s a pretty powerful position. 

What does this mean for the physical security industry business? 

That means having crystal-clear awareness of how your brand is perceived is key, and doing everything you can to move the needle of perception as close to your digital branding reality is crucial.

How do you do that? First, it takes getting real. We need to be honest here. Many organizations think their brand and brand strategy is the equivalent of a Bugatti La Voiture Noire, and what they are really rolling with is the equivalent of a beat-up Ford Pinto. To remedy this, it takes understanding the difference between digital branding reality and digital branding perception, and closing the gap between the two. 

Digital branding reality is the core identity of your brand. This reality usually involves a brand message, mission and brand-positioning statement. 

Digital branding perception is what the audience knows (or believes it knows) about your brand and the emotions emitted when thinking about your brand logo, colors and messaging. 

Does this even matter for security dealers, integrators and manufacturers? Absolutely, and far more than most organizations realize. This is because branding is not just about evoking a positive image. In fact, it is far more complex than that. It is about encompassing who you are, what you do and your capabilities into the entirety of your strategy, which reinforces your position in the customer’s mind. 

We commonly see this played out where security organizations report not gaining interest in certain areas or regarding particular services simply because the potential customer does not perceive they have the capacity to fulfill their needs. That means missed opportunities and lost revenue. 

So, what are some practical ways to close the gap between brand perception and reality? To start bridging the gap it’s important to define your identity, listen to industry and consumer trends, align offerings to meet consumer needs, set expectations and finally, fulfill and exceed the expectations. We know that is easier said than done, but there are tools to help. 

The best place to start is by looking at website metrics by social listening. Having your ear to the ground provides a phenomenal amount of insight into how customers perceive your brand. Once you gain the knowledge, it is possible to make course corrections in branding. 

Here are some great free tools to help you in your efforts. 

Website analytics tools: 

  • Smartlook is a popular tool that includes session recordings, events, funnels and heat maps that allow you to track quantitative and qualitative analytics. 
  • Google Analytics is the most well-known and popular free web analytics tool out there. It’s a traditional analytics solution, meaning it provides real-time data about your site’s traffic, like page views, sessions, time on page, bounce rates and other stats and metrics. 
  • Clicky is a privacy-friendly tool that provides real-time analytics. 
  • Hotjar is best known for its session recordings and heat map tools, but it also has user feedback widgets as well as survey features. 
  • Woopra is a quantitative analytics tool for tracking customer journeys end-to-end. It’s more versatile than traditional analytics tools as it comes with features for product, marketing, sales and customer support teams. 

Social listening tools: 

  • Answer the Public is one of the most popular free social listening tools today. It allows teams to listen to autocomplete data so that you can discover useful phrases and questions people are asking around your keyword. 
  • Hootsuite helps brands manage their social media marketing efforts in one place. 
  • Social Mention aggregates user-generated content into a single stream of information. It allows you to track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product or any topic in real time. 
  • BuzzSumo is a great social listening tool for identifying the content that performs best. It’s extremely useful for marketers looking to generate new ideas, create high-performing content and engage with influencers on social media. 

Bottom line? While having distance between your digital branding reality and perception is normal, it should be every brand’s goal to work toward closing that gap. It is an ongoing process, so stay in the game.