Famed French author Gustave Flaubert once wrote, “There is no truth. There is only perception.” Although I wouldn’t quite go to this length to say that truth doesn’t exist, I will totally admit that the truth can sometimes get muddied up when it comes to perception. This is especially true when it comes to the business world and how businesses and brands are perceived. Sometimes how you are perceived might not reflect the entire truth.

Keep It Positive

Imagine, for instance, how one negative review can completely change your customers’ perception of your business. Look around at the recent scandals that have rocked the entertainment and political worlds and realize how one event or action can completely change how a person’s brand is perceived.

By understanding how your brand is perceived, you can take steps to maintain this perception (if it’s positive), or make the necessary adjustments to shift how your business is viewed.

First things first–you need to know HOW your brand is perceived and here’s how you can do this:

~Keep Up With Social Media

This should be a no brainer. You need to constantly monitor social media for references to your business and brand. Let’s take a website like Yelp, for example. A review left here could reach thousands of potential customers. So if that review is negative, that is going to reflect poorly on your brand and how potential customers perceive you.

Do regular research on your brand (yes, that means “Google” yourself) to see what people are saying about you. Good or bad, it’s important to know what people are thinking about you (you can even set a Google alert for your company name so you are notified any time news is posted about you).

~Do Some Surveys

These are especially easy if you have your own company website. Surveys allow you to get comments and perceptions from your customers, but they also allow you to learn more about your client base. Don’t think that all customers are the same. Millennials will perceive your brand differently than Baby Boomers or Gen X’ers will. If you want to know what your clients think about you, the best way is to just ask them!

Now that you know how your brand is perceived, it’s up to you to take this information and craft your story!

Knowledge is Power

If you have prided yourself on your customer service and find out that your customers perceive your service as a weakness, then it is time to have a serious conversation with your service department.

Do not let negative reviews just sit online. Reach out to those reviewers and see if you can change their attitude toward your brand so that they will post an amended review on the same website.

By understanding how your brand is perceived, you can control your brand story. If you are perceived positively, you can do more of the same. If your perception is negative, you can take the necessary steps to make changes. The most important part is to know exactly how your brand is perceived, because knowledge is power.