The Relationship between Interior Design and Customer Perception of Brand Image
Zeynep Dağlı Curalı
Published Jul 14, 2020
1.1. The Role of Interior Design on Customer Perception
The subject of customer perception has attracted the attention of marketing scholars because customer perception is significant in developing a long-term relationship between a customer and a brand (Ivanauskiene and Auruskeviciene 2012). There are several ways to define customer perception. According to Khalifa (2004), customer perception comprises benefit/cost ratio models, value components models and means-ends models. There are three customer: functional needs, symbolic needs and experiential needs (Ivanauskiene and Auruskeviciene 2012). According to Solomon (1996), consumers select, purchase, and use products, services or experience in accordance with their needs. However, before they prefer a certain product or service, consumer behavior is shaped with different necessities such as price, quality, comfort, function, and past experience (Dodds 1990).
It is possible to define perception as “a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual acquires, codes, stores, recalls and decodes information about the relative locations and attributions of phenomena in his everyday spatial environment” (Altman and Chemers 1980). People filter their perception depending on their social and cultural qualities. Therefore, every customer may have a different perception experience according to his/her background.
It can be claimed that the design of an interior space is a significant element for affecting customer perception. “The conscious design of space to create certain effects in buyers. More specifically, atmospherics is the effort to design buying environments to produce specific emotional effects in the buyer that enhance his purchase probability” (Kotler, in Greenland and McGoldrick 2000). Especially in the service sector, interior design is important because the environment is accepted as one of the few key tangible elements (Greenland and McGoldrick 2000).
It is possible to present a snapshot of design features on customers. Research conducted by Greenland and McGoldrick is presented in the table below, where it is possible to see the impact of various environmental features on customers. For instance, color may affect the emotional states of customers, whereas lighting may affect customer satisfaction. Therefore, every element may have a different effect on customer perception.
Table 1: Environmental Features and Their Impact Upon Environment Users (Greenland and McGoldrick, 2000)
In the table above, one can see also the impact of different visual design elements on human beings and who conducted the study. This table enables researchers to understand what to expect from different design elements while conducting the research. According to Ballast (2010), “aesthetically, materials can convey meaning, denote status, create style, symbolize ideals and generally add to the overall look of the space.” Materials have meaning and they create a style in the spaces they are used. According to Olins (1990), marble, glass and metal create a cool image. In contrast, organic materials such as leather and wood create a warm feeling. The materials used in interior designs are important because they have different effects on human beings.
1.2. Brand Image as Corporate Image of Customer and Experienced Quality
Corporate image is not the direct result of corporate identity. It is related with how a corporation is perceived by the customers. According to Wood (2001),
Corporate identity is what the organization communicates (either intentionally or unintentionally) via various cues, whereas image is how it public actually views it. Organizations cannot construct a corporate image because they cannot control the context in which their communication is received, interpreted or understood.
Similarly, Sizyek (2000) claims that corporate identity defines a corporation’s picture however corporate image means how the corporation is perceived from outside. Balmer (1998) claims that corporate image is related with managing business identity. It focuses on the psychology, graphic design and public relations of the firm. Corporate design helps in defining corporate image. It is possible to define corporate design as “the vast number of visual cues that are associated with a specific organization” (Melewar and Karamosmanoğlu 2010). There are several elements of corporate design. However, according to Melewar and Karaosmanoğlu, some elements are more important: “Although there was considerable agreement that corporate design was an important part of the corporate identity concept, some subcomponents of design were considered more important. The slogan, architecture and office layout were of particular importance.” (2010, p. 7). Therefore, concerning architecture design and office layout, interior design is included among the crucial subcomponents of corporate image and it is an essential element for reflecting corporate identity because it is the visual face of a corporation. Corporate image can directly effect customer perception and aids corporations to differentiate themselves from their rivals (Oylum 2010, p.6). In the market or service sector, it is difficult to attract new customers, so corporations attract customers emotionally as well. Interior design serves to creating an emotional bound with the customers.
With this perspective, corporate image becomes a brand image for the customer. A brand’s image "reflects consumer's perceptions of brand’s characteristics and can be determined by their associations. The image refers to the way in which consumers’ interpret all of the signals coming from the products, services and communication covered by the brand” (Hubanic and Hubanic 2009). Brand image has different purposes, like communicating expectations and influencing the perception of a company’s activities. Brand identity is a result of consumers’ experiences as well as their expectations, and, it affects the company internally (Hubanic and Hubanic 2009). In other words, what a corporation intends and what a customer perceives may differ depending on the quality of communication between them as well as the factors mentioned above regarding customer perception. The design process aims to close this gap, if it exists, or strengthen the communication between customer and corporation.
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