Your brand is the marketing backbone of your business. But building brand awareness and ultimately brand equity are not always as easy as it may first appear. So, what are the fundamentals when it comes to building brand equity? And how can you think outside the box to build your brand equity and set yourself apart?
The Fundamentals of a Brand
In the quest to build brand equity, you must first address your brand. At its most basic level, this means identity and how people recognize your brand. Defining who you are as a brand is a mixture of your product and the needs it meets as well as your personality – your style, logo, colors, voice and the psychological responses that they evoke. Then it’s about building awareness through consistency and cohesion in applying your brand values, voice and look in everything you do.
Then What Is Brand Equity Really?
Put most simply, brand equity is the public’s perception and valuation of your brand. Once you’ve made a start at all of the fundamentals above and put your brand out there for the world to see, building brand equity is about shaping how your customers think and feel about you. And it is here that science turns to art thanks to the undeniable power of emotion in driving how customers view and respond to your brand. There are two key dimensions to consider in brand equity:
Awareness – Do customers easily recognize you and know who you are? What associations do they make with your brand when they see it? What values do they connect to your brand? What do they think you stand for and what does that mean to them?
Experience – What kind of experiences have they had with your brand? Did they have a positive dialogue with your business? Were your digital or customer service teams helpful and pleasant during the purchase process? Did your product deliver as promised? Did the buying experience itself leave them satisfied or let down? Do they feel good about interacting with your brand?
Why Does Brand Equity Matter?
You might think all this talk of feelings is too soft, too squishy, too undefined to really impact the bottom line. That could be a costly mistake. Years of research have consistently shown the power that positive brand equity wields in a competitive market. Positive brand equity drives growth in market share. It can drive success in product line expansions. It certainly drives customer loyalty and repeat business. And when it takes hold, positive brand equity allows a brand to charge a premium thanks to its higher perceived value. After all, all of these things ultimately grow from the way your customers feel about your brand and how they respond as a result.
4 Creative Ways to Build Brand Equity
Presentation as proxy.
Consistency is one of the fundamentals of branding. In order to build brand awareness and ultimately equity, consistency is key in creating a compelling brand identity for your customers to get to know. Rigorous brand consistency though can be an arduous process, so it’s important to recognize up front what are the core, defining attributes of your brand and why so that you can focus your efforts on those things that evoke the feelings and values that are most important.
It’s also crucial to remember that your brand’s presentation is a proxy for the quality and promise of your brand at every single touchpoint throughout the process. A compelling logo is a powerful identity piece. Apply it to a website that is otherwise unattractive and hard to use or to a flyer that is cluttered and confusing and that power is lost – and lost quickly. For example, it takes just 0.05 seconds for a visitor to form an opinion about your website.
First impressions matter. Investing in a high standard of presentation that matches your brand promise will pay brand equity dividends in the end. Skimping on presentation as you go only erodes your brand position and sets you back in the minds of customers.
Tell me a REAL story.
Stories build connections and create feelings. They resonate, and they are invaluable when it comes to building brand equity. Every brand has a story, and they can tell it a myriad of ways whether visual, written, spoken or represented through the actions of the brand’s representatives. Unfortunately, the story is something that brands often forget to communicate in their rush to focus on selling product or touting accomplishments. In doing so, they neglect the very core of who they are and why they exist – and ultimately why their customers should care.
Building brand equity means building connections and resonance. Almost nothing does that better than an authentic, personal story. According to one recent study, 86% of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor in the brands that they choose to support. So go ahead, tell the real story. What better way for your customers to connect with the values and goals that you share?
Engaging with your customers on a personal level is a powerful tool in fostering relationships. Relationships build trust, and trust is a key ingredient in brand equity and success. According to one recent survey, a whopping 81% of consumers said that they needed to trust a brand in order to buy from them. So how can a brand foster those relationships? Certainly, by providing personalized experiences for customers. And by following the tried and true “surprise and delight” marketing mantra to create positive brand interactions that exceed customer expectations.
In today’s world though, transparency is a powerful thought in the mind of consumers. Transparency leads to a different dimension of getting personal – one that includes things that may strike fear in some marketing hearts. Ask for feedback. Invite dialogue. Communicate openly. Did your brand get some (legitimate) negative feedback online? Address it, don’t suppress it. Admitting mistakes and making them right with honesty and forthrightness builds trust and loyalty. Talk to your audience like they are individual people – because they are.
The fact that your happy customers are your brand’s most potent ambassadors is old-world marketing wisdom. It has never been truer than in today’s internet-driven world. Websites, reviews and social media have given word of mouth worldwide reach.
An intentional strategy to cultivate and manage positive customer reviews on these platforms can boost your brand equity significantly and with minimal additional investment from you. So too can engaging with your customers on social media. Someone saying nice things about you? Share them, feature them on your own channels and let them speak for you. 79% of people say that user-generated content strongly impacts their purchasing decisions. The power of an authentic third party endorsement should never be underestimated.
Need help building your brand or taking it to the next level? Connect with Clementine, and let’s talk branding!