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Owners of start-ups and long-time businesses are always looking for ways to grow and expand. Brand equity is one of the most significant factors to consider when starting a business, especially if you want your business to be recognized on a global scale.
What is brand equity?
Brand equity is a common term in the business sphere, but many people may not know what it is. Brand equity refers to the value or worth a particular brand is associated with. It is all about the perception people have of your brand. It could be perceived as good or bad, depending on your goods, services, and delivery. Building positive brand equity takes time, as the business person must understand how to effectively utilize marketing strategies, quality, community, and durability of products.
Why is brand equity important?
All aspects of a product define what a brand is, and these would eventually be the defining characteristics of that brand. It is as simple as the color the brand is known for or its logo. Besides helping to distinguish similar products from different sources, branding is essential for businesses that want to expand their consumer base.
When you can establish positive brand equity and maintain consistency, your market not only expands, but your consumers are more confident in your brand. It is also an avenue to make more profit because these consumers would be willing to pay more for the value your brand consistently provides. A positive brand perception gives you an advantage over the competition and allows you to grow while leveraging your positive brand equity.
How to Build your Brand Equity
You develop your brand equity every day as your market uses your products and services. There are general strategies to establish your brand equity and keep it growing. These strategies involve brand awareness, brand recognition, trial, preference, and brand loyalty.
Through advertisements and networking, consumers become aware of your products and services, and with time and continued exposure, these consumers recognize your products wherever they are displayed. Then comes the trial phase, where they use these products since they have the necessary information. Consumers then decide how your product or service has helped them, and if they had a good experience, they continue using it and even recommend it to their network. These steps may appear straightforward, but it involves influencing your customers’ feelings, experience, and perception of your brand, and this is the dicey part.
The Keller Brand Equity Model
Also called the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model, the Keller Brand Equity Model represents four major questions that customers have about your brand. The four steps involve six building blocks, and these can be effectively applied to strengthen your brand and build a positive one.
Step 1: Brand Identity- Who are you?
This step involves the identity of your brand and how it is different from the competition. Brand identity is the first step and the foundation upon which other blocks are laid. Distinguishing your products from similar ones is a way to create brand awareness and emphasize the correct brand perception.
You need to define the consumer base for your business before applying this principle by conducting extensive research to understand your market’s specific needs. This step is an opportunity to know how your consumers perceive your brand and how they make decisions.
You will need to figure out what they look for and the factors they consider in choosing between your products and similar ones. You will need to know if you have the edge over your competition. Consumers have needs and want to be satisfied with different products and services that do the same thing, but they must know how your brand can benefit them. It would be best to leverage on the Unique Selling Proposition of your brand and effectively communicate this to your market. After applying these strategies in building your brand, you will have the much-needed information about your brand’s feelings, experience, and value.
Step 2: Brand Meaning- What are you?
The building blocks in this step are Performance and imagery. You are to communicate with your consumers about what your brand means using both of these. Performance here refers to how your brand helps meet your consumers’ needs and satisfy these needs. According to the CBBE model, this building block consists of five important categories: reliability, serviceability, durability; style and design; primary characteristics and features; effectiveness and efficiency; and price.
Imagery refers to how your consumers perceive your brand socially and psychologically. They view your brand a certain way after meeting their needs directly or indirectly from their network or via an advertisement, which determines how they see your brand.
The way your products or services perform determines the experience your market would associate with your brand. To build confidence and trust in your brand, you must meet your customers’ expectations and even surpass them. Think of ways to solve your consumers’ outlined problems and think of ways to ensure that your consumers have a good experience with your brand. There could be factors preventing this from happening, or there could be gaps that need feeling. Identify these factors or gaps and attend to them, even if it means tweaking your brand’s persona.
Step 3: Brand Response- How do I feel about you?
The judgments and feelings of your customers come into play after they use your brand. These building blocks are important in assessing whether you meet their expectations.
Four categories describe how your brand is judged:
- Credibility- using expertise, likeability, and trustworthiness, customers make judgments about your brand
- Superiority- customers compare your brand with your competition and pick which is superior
- Quality- It could be the actual quality of your product or the perceived quality
- Consideration- They make judgments on how well your brand meets their unique needs
You need to figure out how to improve your credibility for these customers to like your brand and feel like they can trust you. It is also important to know how you compare to your competitors and be placed above them by your market. Ask yourself if you are meeting your customers’ unique needs, and if you can improve your brand quality, whether actual or perceived. It is important to pay attention to your customers’ feelings, focus on them, and try to enhance them.
Step 4- Brand Resonance- Where is the connection?
Step 4 is the most demanding level and the most profitable level to attain as it involves a deeper connection or bond with your brand, such that they use your products even without thinking much about it.
According to Keller, brand resonance can consist of four categories:
- Attitudinal attachment- your consumers now love your brand, and they see it as a special purchase.
- Behavioral loyalty- this can be identified when customers repeatedly purchase your products or use your services.
- Sense of community- the sense of community among your customers and company representatives, and other people associated with your brand.
- Active engagement is practically the greatest extent of brand loyalty because customers are actively involved in your brand even when they are not directly using it. They could advocate for your brand, follow you on social media platforms, attend brand events, and participate in activities surrounding your brand.
With strong brand resonance, customers remain loyal to your brand and cannot be easily swayed by your competitors’ tactics. But this step is also challenging because it takes time, and you need to ensure your customers’ frictionless experiences.
At this stage, you have to make efforts to reinforce and strengthen the resonance categories by looking for ways to improve behavioral loyalty and reward loyal and consistent customers. Create a sense of belonging for your customers to form a community for all those associated with your brand and find more ways to involve your customers periodically. Think about similar ways to improve brand resonance, whether via promotions, giveaways, incentives, or charitable contributions.
You cannot go wrong with Investing in Brand Equity.
Many successful brands have leveraged the steps listed above. Consumers trust pharmaceutical brands like Tylenol over other generic brands even though they all manufacture similar products. Besides the quality household names like Starbucks provides, the company has also developed positive brand equity because of its environmental sustainability commitments.
Customers who are confident in a brand and associate great value with that brand would be willing to go the extra mile to patronize and remain loyal to such a brand. Your competition will not carry much weight if your customers value your brand. Brand equity influences many aspects of a business, including sales. With positive brand equity, your market share will increase because people network every day. Pay attention to the steps outlined in the CBBE model and invest time and other resources in your brand equity, and you will see results.