23 Feb Building brand equity
Your brand represents so much more than a logo, and that’s especially true for your users. Developing a strong and dynamic brand creates a solid foundation for your company, but the success of that brand over the long term depends on your brand equity. According to Inc., “when people speak of “brand equity” they mean the public’s valuation of a brand”. Brand equity is more of a concept than anything else and acts as a framework for understanding the power of consumer’s emotions in relationship to your positioning.
Kevin Lane Keller, marketing professor at Dartmouth College, outlined the factors necessary for brand equity in his book, Strategic Brand Management. In the text, Keller stresses that in order to build brand equity, you have to shape how consumers think and feel about your product. These thoughts and feelings are categorized by four questions that represent what consumers subconsciously ask about your brand.
Salience: “Who are you?”
The first level of brand equity deals with your brand’s identity and how people recognize it. Salience refers to the prominence of your brand and whether or not it stands out. You need to have an accurate understanding of what your customers think of your brand, true or otherwise.
Meaning: “What are you?”
Meaning relates to how you communicate what your brand means and stands for. This level of brand equity is split up into two parts, performance and imagery. Performance refers to how well your product meets the needs of your customers through factors like reliability, effectiveness, style, and price, while imagery refers to how your brand meets psychological needs. Both of these factors play a huge role in developing your brand’s personality.
Response: “What about you?”
The third level of brand equity deals with how people respond to your brand based on their judgments and feelings. Consumers usually judge your brand based on its perceived quality and credibility, which you can influence by establishing your brand’s expertise over time.
Feelings are usually much trickier to manage. Generally, supporting your company’s core values with communications can help your brand impact how a consumer feels about themselves.
Resonance: “What about you and me?”
The final and greatest level of brand equity is resonance and refers to how much of a connection your customers have with your brand. This level is the hardest to reach and has characteristics that range from repeat purchases and sense of community and everyone’s favorite to active engagement. Resonance means your consumers are actively sharing and connecting with others who associate with your brands, even when they’re not currently purchasing. That deep emotional connection will keep a company at their top of mind during purchase and even afterward.
At its finest, resonance can even lead consumers to refer to a brand as the name for products in its entire category, like how some people call any type of sticky note a Post-it®.
And if you accomplish all of that?
According to Keller, that means your brand overall will be less vulnerable to competitive marketing and price changes. Pretty awesome, right?
Unfortunately, there’s a flip side to nearly everything. Brand equity can be strong; but once it starts going bad, things can spiral pretty quickly and have devastating effects. Bad news happens in an instant, and with social media, it can amplify just as quickly. After being burned by an untimely story, it can take several years for a company to recover (if they ever even manage to repair their reputation).
So, what do you do if something’s threatening your brand equity?
Customers are going to judge based on their personal experiences and what they hear. And while you can’t possibly make sure every last person has a positive experience, but you can do damage control by making sure you respond in a positive way, show that you’re listening. Own up to your mistakes and fix what can be fixed, address complaints responsibly and appropriately. Give yourself a chance to actively reshape how customers think and feel about your brand because their opinions are necessary for a brand’s success.