Marty Neumeier said that “a brand is not what you say it is, but what others say it is.” It is a great truth that reflects a reality that is often forgotten. We should consider that branding is not a war to build better brands, it is a battle to get a better perception of them. And this happens because, with a few exceptions, the differentiation between products/services is becoming less and less and it is often difficult to find objective realities that demonstrate that a product is superior to its most direct competitor. The difference is achieved only in the minds of the customers, turning a perception into a reality for that person. For this reason, it is possible to say that a brand is what others think of it and not what the company says it is.

The more the identity matches the image, the better the perception and preference for the brand in the market. But in this chain, reaching a first level based on self-awareness is not an easy task. How do you know if you’re really seeing your brand clearly? And if so, to what extent is it affecting how others see you?

 

Johari’s Window

The Johari Window is a psychological tool, created by Joseph Luft and Harrinton Ingham in 1955, used to gain an in-depth understanding of the relationship between oneself and those around oneself. It is one of the most effective techniques of self-analysis by incorporating the other’s perspective to understand oneself.

The model consists of four quadrants, each of which determines a different composition. These combinations are the result of facts known or unknown to oneself, along with facts known or unknown to others. From the perspective of branding, the idea of a brand focuses on a whole constellation of perceptions and feelings that it can generate in people, the Johari Window is a magnificent tool in the evaluation of the health of a brand.

To better understand this model, let’s review the four combinations:

E.g. Diagram 1

 

  1. Open Area

It occurs when the value and the perception of value by the target customers are aligned; Obviously, this is the ideal scenario. In other words, in it we find the brands that have properly defined their DNA and, in turn, have identified what their audience knows and knows about them. In this situation, brand identity (what the brand says it is) would be balanced with brand image (what others say it is).

In this context, brands must continue to communicate transparently and demonstrate with deeds everything they say and promise. They must be, above all, authentic by generating trust in every action.

Example: Apple continues to demonstrate its purpose year after year, as recognized by the latest BrandZ Top Brands study, and its audience perceives it as such, consolidating it as a leading brand. Other great and clear examples can be Disney or Red Bull.

 

  1. Blind Area

It happens when the perception or experience of customers is not aligned with the value that the brand supposedly offers. On this occasion, the image is misaligned with identity, perhaps due to an incomplete or unachieved positioning.

Under this framework, it is recommended that the brand employs active listening techniques. It must be considered that the audience interprets the message in a personal way, sometimes very different from the initial approach envisaged by the brand. It is necessary to remember that the brand communicates and exposes its identity every second, even when it believes that it is not communicating. Not saying or not doing something is as much a message as saying or doing it. It is important to monitor the feedback and, when we don’t have it, ask how the message has arrived and been interpreted. At other times, the audience doesn’t really hide any opinions and communicates them openly (pay attention to the big loudspeaker that social media has become). In this case, the problem is simply not wanting to listen.

Example: McDonald’s began its repositioning towards a healthier, “greener” attitude a few years ago. Some time later and with its new identity, it has been discovered that the audience still has a different perception of what the brand intended to communicate.

 

  1. Hidden area

This is a blind area that is only known to the company but not known to customers. It creates an opportunity to develop growth in the market. It’s the wild card that gives you an extra edge. In this case, it is due to an unexposed, uncommunicated reality or identity that has not wanted to take a certain position.

For this quadrant, it is necessary to define the degree of importance of what is hidden and the possible effects that the communication of that information would have, both in the interests of the brand and in those of the audience. If the brand wants to hide information that directly influences what it has promised its audience, sooner or later it will become known. The only solution to effectively hide information is not to generate false expectations. Nowadays the need to be transparent is seriously punishing liars.

Example: FIFA promotes values of solidarity through football in order to reach society. The organization considers itself a “catalyst for social change, with ethical values and preserving its integrity.” The audience can see that they work during every season, every tournament and every game to make it so. However, some scandals have exposed cases of corruption within the organization that call into question the honesty of its promise.

 

  1. Unknown Area

This is a murky area where neither company nor customers know what value they have to offer, either because the business is still in the “idea phase”… or because you’ve really lost sight of what you’re doing. In it there is no construction of identity, nor of image. There is also no clear positioning.

Example: The car brand Mini has shown that, despite having such a clear positioning for so long (including such a descriptive name), it is possible to discover new attributes and new territories to explore. Its range of vehicles has been growing in size and robustness, but it has not lost its essence.

 

Advantages of the Johari Window

The Johari window is one of the most useful tools for organizations and brands to succeed over their competitors. All four areas deserve special attention, but the most critical category to focus on is the area of blind spots. Detecting them allows you to take the appropriate corrective measures to avoid lost opportunities and reputational problems.

    • Self-awareness: acts as a self-analysis tool to become aware of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats while also taking into account the opinions of others.
    • Improves communication: It paves the way for open interaction and develops understanding between teams and outwards.
    • Facilitates growth: It provides room for improvement, as the blind area reveals those aspects that are known to others, but may have been ignored by the individual himself. These facts are sometimes related to the attitude, habits, and behavior of the individual that need to be repaired.
    • Improved performance: Encourage open conversations and feedback within a group. This improves group performance and develops mutual understanding by eliminating problem areas and misunderstandings.

How to Reduce Blind Area

As we have seen, the blind area occurs when perception and value offered do not align. This is a danger zone that should be minimised in order to better leverage our resources. To reduce it, it is necessary to start by obtaining information and constant comments from customers, you must also know the competitors’ products that customers might prefer; This will increase your level of self-awareness and you will be able to improve customer satisfaction, product performance, consumer loyalty, level of competition, etc.

E.g. Diagram 2

 

If you manage to stay up-to-date with market trends and demands, you will be able to reduce the blind spots of the organization. It will also increase the open area, as shown in diagram 2. But you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone to diminish the unknown area. You should also explore new possibilities or diversify into new products or means of production through research, pursuing an increase in market share and profitability.

E.g. Diagram 3

 

Sometimes, there could be some strengths of the product or organization that aren’t properly promoted. Customers may not be aware of them, creating a hidden area for the organization. It is advisable to enhance the strengths, such as superior quality, the best shelf life of the products, etc., in this way you will be developing the trust and loyalty of customers. By highlighting and disseminating this information, you can reduce areas of ignorance, thus expanding the open area and enhancing the value of your brand in the market.

Knowledge is power

In short, if a brand wants to be known among its audience, it must first know itself well. You need to reflect, understand who you are and why you do what you do and say what you say. And always under the prism of authenticity. Listening and asking. Learning from mistakes, while continuing to research to learn again and improve again.

Applying the Johari Window will help you uncover opportunities to create value and reveal those problem areas that need to be mitigated. All this without forgetting the great pending task of brands: striving to be what they pretend to be.

 

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward