How do your customers perceive your brand?
In her latest article, chief transformation officer at Mediacom UK, Sue Unerman, states, “There’s a clear correlation now between clarity of purpose and brand equity. Abandoning a brand because you don’t like what you hear about it is becoming mainstream.”
This highlights the importance of keeping your nose squeaky clean when it comes to your brand image.
Consumers have wised up to the smoke and mirrors approach that marketing has taken in the past. To get value from today’s marketplace you need to add value to it first.
The age of hype has come and gone.
The American Marketing Association defines it as:
“The value of a brand. From a consumer perspective, brand equity is based on consumer attitudes about positive brand attributes and favorable consequences of brand use.”
So how do you set about getting in your customer’s good books? Let’s take a look at the many facets of brand equity and how they can work for you.
What is Brand Equity?
Marketing guru, David Aaker identified brand equity way back in 1991 as “A set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name, and symbol that adds to or subtracts from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers.”
In that sense, your brand image is seen as an asset and goes hand in hand with brand identity.
To gain an understanding of brand equity, you need only think of the old saying ‘you are paying for the name.’
Brands with an excellent reputation in the market can charge more for their products and services. In this respect, your brand has a value of its own beyond the cost of the actual raw materials or the shelf-price.
Building a great brand reputation contributes to the strength of your brand equity and is just one part of the process of growing your business. It takes patience, effort, and loyalty to your brand.
As a business owner you are the face of your brand and all your public endeavors should reflect your desired brand image – remember that.
Susan Gunelius identifies three main points with regard to brand equity:
- Values: Tangible values such as revenue and intangible values such as a positive customer awareness.
- Effects: Positive or negative effects on your business caused by brand equity.
- Consumer catalysts: Consumers are largely responsible for how your brand comes across ‘out there’ and thus affect your brand’s value.
Likewise, brand equity also provides value to customers. High brand worth simplifies their decision-making process, allows them to make purchases with confidence and enjoy the positive benefits associated with it.
For example, having a Rolex means way more than having some functional, durable and attractive way to tell time.
In this respect, brand equity has earned a place alongside the marketing concept, segmentation, and other key aspects of the modern marketing realm.
What are the Benefits?
Way back at the outset, David Aaker included the following levels of brand equity and these are still relevant today – let’s take a look at how these add value to your business:
Brand Associations, including Perceived Quality – “It seems good”
At this level, consumers recognize the brand and are aware of its benefits and drawbacks. They may find a reason to purchase it due to the information available or just to try something different.
As the brand attracts more positive feedback they may try other products in the range and become familiar with your brand and loyal towards it.
Brand Awareness – “It’s been around for a while’
Consumers know about your brand and have positive associations with it. They may be willing to try it due to its familiarity and high visibility.
Hanging in there at this level with consistent marketing endeavors shows substance and commitment and can ultimately lead to brand loyalty.
Brand Loyalty – “I only use x product’
This is an obvious one. Loyal customers form an emotional connection to the brand and will seek it out. Brand loyal customers will not purchase and alternative brand if they can’t get hold of their favorite – they will seek it out.
In their minds, there is no substitute for their desired brand.
This has huge positive spin-offs for the brand such as reduced marketing costs, trade leverage and tremendous attractiveness to potential customers thanks to word of mouth advertising.
When you are way out in front you have ample time to respond to any competitive threats and gently remind your customers that you are still the best.
Your customers are more likely to forgive a mistake and you gain massive negotiation power with vendors and suppliers if your product is drawing in the crowds.
This allows you to charge top rates for your goods and services, gives you a competitive advantage over your rivals, and provides opportunities for expansion into new areas thanks to your good name.
Your job as a marketer is to guide the consumer through these levels in order to increase your brand equity to the point where your goods and services practically sell themselves.
The first step is identifying which value level your brand is at. In a new business, all you can aspire to do is guide the consumer from brand awareness to recognition to trial and onward to brand preference and ultimately the holy grail of brand loyalty.
How to get your brand right up there
There is no shortcut to achieving this, loyalty can only be developed over time as customers begin to see you in an increasingly favorable light.
Step one – figure out where you stand
Ask yourself some questions such as:
- How good is your brand reputation locally and can you use it for expansion? Try to identify one thing that your brand represents for your customers.
- Do you have any loyal customers? What attracted them and kept them?
- How does your offering compare with that of your competition? What can you offer that they can’t?
Market research is often the key to finding these answers but you can use a simple equation to figure it out for yourself.
Your company is the only service/product (X) that solves the problem (Y) in a particular manner that is different and better than your competition (Z).
Once you have worked out the variables in this formula, stick to it and focus all your marketing efforts on these few simple things. Make sure your people deliver the service that fulfills these ideals.
Step two – tell it like it is
Sharing stories of your brand’s actual ‘lifestyle’ can win the hearts of customers. Social media is ideal for this.
Tell them all about how you have helped customers in the past, share those glowing reviews and make a big deal of a new product launch. Get people to feel like they know your brand personally by letting it appear to be a living, breathing thing.
Step three – make it real
Make sure the impression your business is portraying to the outside world matches your internal values. Does you logo speak for itself? What about your marketing collateral? Get your web site, brochures and shop front with the program.
Don’t have an internal design guru? Get a freelancer to help you out in the meantime.
It’s by far the best way to get high quality design at the best price.
Step four – think in a holistic fashion
To build relationships with your customers which convert in to brand equity you should think far beyond sales. Create a great brand impression from their first interaction with your business.
Even if they do not purchase then, a positive experience will stay with them and build your brand’s credibility. ‘Service, service, service’ must become your mantra.
People love free stuff. Giving away something that costs your company little can have big benefits in the long run.
For example, allowing customers to enjoy a cup of coffee while browsing in your shop creates positive associations.
Step five – check your progress
Just ask your customers. Surveys can reveal strengths and weaknesses you never knew you had.
Check your organic search results on the web and keep an eye on your social media pages and those of competitors. Google-search your company name to see if there are any online reviews lurking on the internet, good or bad, which you can use to improve you brand equity.
Getting help building your brand up
Before you feel overwhelmed with all this marketing mumbo jumbo and throw your hands up in despair – there is help available for you.
You can enlist the help of expert design students from Boonle to help you get started on the right track and spur you on to greater things.
See how you can strike a deal with Boonle’s pool of awesome talented designers.