Building your brand’s equity is one of the most important marketing objectives that your marketing efforts go to. In building your brand’s equity, you will increase the amount of differentiation that you possess versus your competitors. Brand equity and management is extremely important, especially with SEO and content marketing, and ignoring where your company’s brand stands in the market could be very detrimental to your bottom line. When thinking about your brand’s equity, ask yourself this question:
How much is my brand worth?
The answer to that question will be found in your combined marketing communications efforts, and can even be accurately tracked through social media/content analytics. Software that analyzes the engagement you get from your target audience is abundant nowadays, and can help you determine if your message is reaching the audience it needs to reach and engaging them.
A strong brand equity will give you four major things: Brand loyalty, increased profits/market share, brand advocacy, and the ability to have price premiums over your competition. These factors are incredibly important to growth and successfully managing your brand’s equity should be a top priority in your company’s content marketing strategy.
When designing your company’s brand and promotional mix, you must make informed decisions based on prior research as to what kind of brand/company your target market is looking for and where they’re looking for that kind of company (in terms of different platforms). Then you can deliver a promotional campaign based on a mix (advertising, social media, direct marketing) that supports a unified voice and addresses customer wants and needs. In developing your brand strategy, there’s five things that you’d need to consider in your communications:
- Begin with the customer: What do they need/want and what are they looking for?
- Where are they looking for your product/service? Selecting the right media channels is important in efficiently reaching your target customer and engaging them in a way that leaves a positive impression of your company.
- Stick with a simple voice: Different platforms communicate differently, but each platform must contain a unified brand voice. Tweeting about world events but only posting blogs related to your industry leaves customers confused as to what the focus and priorities of your company are.
- Build relationships: Once your content engages your audience, your company wants to engage them further. Letting them know their concerns are heard, or that their praise is greatly appreciated on social platforms is especially effective in increasing brand perceptions.
- Focus on the end goal: Changing behavior. The grand purpose of increasing your brand’s equity is to change the behavior/thinking towards your brand of your target market. Whether that’s being advocates or simply buying the product is up to you, but incorporating call-to-actions within your communications will give you progress towards that end goal.
So what makes a good brand? The pyramid below explains a hierarchy of factors that goes into consumer perceptions and the brand experience as a whole:
If all of these factors are in sync and exceed customer expectations (always over-deliver), then a company can create intense brand loyalty and have an extremely strong brand equity. Generally speaking, in brand adoption, consumers consider five factors:
- Relative advantages over other brands
- Compatibility with their lifestyle
- Complexity (Is the brand’s message and offerings easy to understand?)
- Trialability (Free trial or guarantee of satisfaction reduce consumer fear when using a new brand)
- Observability (Are you easy to find?)
Once these five factors are considered, consumers form their perceptions about the brand, and will hopefully become either customers or advocates of your company. It is important that throughout the course of your marketing communications campaign, you keep those five factors in mind, as falling out of consumer favor within those factors will erode your brand’s equity.
Now that we’ve discussed what makes a good and strong brand, you may wonder where your brand stands and where you would want to position your company in order to get the brand recognition/strength that you need to be successful. The diagram below serves as a brand equity diagnostic tool, labeling four different kinds of brands. The X-Axis represents Brand Esteem/Awareness, while the Y-Axis represents the brand’s strength (A brand’s level of differentiation/relevancy to customer wants/needs).
A niche brand is one with a high amount of differentiation to other brands in the same industry with a low amount of brand awareness. An example of such a brand would be a company like Voodoo Donuts, with a really unique and strong brand presence, but relatively unknown outside of the state of Oregon. These types of companies fill a niche consumer need and have a strong, but small following.
The leadership brands are industry leaders in terms of brand strength and recognition. Generally speaking, they have great reach and public recognition with a strong and loyal brand following. These are the Nikes and Apples of whatever industry you’re in. Usually the brand leadership is an optimal position to be in for a company because it means strong brand equity and the greatest opportunity of being successful long-term.
The unfocused brands are brands that are struggling in both strength and esteem, and generally represent companies struggling to find successful positioning. An example of this would be JCPenney’s. While it is a huge company, JCPenney’s brand equity is extremely weak due to failed re-branding efforts. This has resulted in lost market share to competitors, and brand confusion. It goes without saying that the results of building up your company’s brand without clear goals, execution, and the rest of the organization’s faith will probably be negative.
Lastly, there are eroding brands. Brands that were once leaders in their industry that are now on the decline due to a lack of recent brand presence in different promotional channels. An eroding brand is usually a sign that the company’s growth as a whole has slowed or stopped entirely, losing market share to new competition/substitute industries. Examples of eroding brands would be BlackBerry or Post Shredded Wheat. Partly due to changing consumer tastes and failure to adapt to them, these brands suffer lost market share yearly and declining brand equity. To avoid brand erosion, keeping a brand presence within your target audience is important, but innovating to match ever-changing consumer tastes and technologies.
As you can see, building up a strong brand is much more complicated than a few social media posts here and there wishing your followers a ‘Happy Monday.’ There’s much more to building a strong brand, but understanding the basics of how brand equity functions and how to maintain a strong position in the market is essential for developing successful branding strategies.