The best example of brand equity is Apple. They have such strong following of loyal fans and distinct product lines that their price point doesn’t really matter compared to others in their market. People keep buying from them. 💰
Brand equity is a framework for understanding the power of consumer’s emotions in relation to your positioning. Said differently, it’s about how customers feel about you and what is that worth to your business? Do they tell their friends to book an appointment with you ASAP or to avoid you like the plague?
Here’s a direct quote I heard from someone talking about their first experience with Apple:
“I paid $4,000 for a computer and was able to use it right out of the box. No other devices were able to do that. I’ve bought Apple ever since.“
You can’t pay people for this level of marketing. They’ve tried.
Achieving positive brand equity is half the battle. Maintaining it is the other half. One bad move, like a poorly written email or thoughtless tweet, can erase years of work building positive brand equity.
So, how do we pull this off?
To build brand equity you need to show people you’re listening. Don’t just use fancy terms people like to hear, instead share what you know (your expertise), and find ways to connect with people on an emotional level. This will get them talking.
That sounds kinda, er, fluffy. What’s the first step?
The first step to building brand equity is to establish who you are by creating awareness (old school marketing guys might call this salience). Think about your customers and the different decisions they go through before making a purchase. Here are some questions to kick things off:
1️⃣ What decisions do customers go through when they choose your product?
2️⃣ How are they classifying your product or brand?
3️⃣ How well does your brand stand out at key stages of this process?
You might find that there are gaps and areas where you need to change things up. For example, if people know what you sell but they don’t really understand how that can help them, then you likely need to change your messaging so that this ‘clicks‘ earlier in the buying process.
Okay, makes sense. What’s the second step?
Once people know who you are, then the next logical step is that they’ll want to know more about you. Is your brand reliable? Do you provide a good service? Does the product give people good value? Do your brand values align with the people buying from you?
There are two building blocks involved in this step:
1️⃣ What your brand means
2️⃣ What your brand stands for
If your brand does what it says it’s going to do, then it’s performing in a way that people will love and trust. If you can pair that with some heavy-hitting values that pull at people’s heartstrings, then you’ve gotten your customer base to (a) become aware of you and (b) like your vibe.
Who’s doing this well?
- TOMS shoes
- Burt’s Bees
- The US military (not joking)
Now you’ve got ’em swiping right. What’s next?
Customers respond to a brand in relation to how it makes them feel. Feelings are trickier to manage because they’re subjective. To understand how customers feel about your brand, ask yourself the following questions:
- How well does your marketing strategy communicate your brand’s relevance to people’s needs?
- How does your product or brand compare with those of your competitors?
- How can you enhance your brand’s credibility in the eyes of your customers?
When you start to get an idea of how your brand makes people feel, then you can hone in on what can you do to improve the way it’s perceived. Companies need to address this and build positive feelings to complete this level of the game.
At this stage, you might consider getting your company certified by the Better Business Bureau. Or, if that’s too bureaucratic for your liking, you could get a different industry cert. This will impact how people respond to your brand.
The last step is the most challenging. Here’s why:
In the final step of building brand equity, you’re trying to get people to become your super fan.
Getting people to know who you are, what you offer, and how you made them feel was a lot of work. There’s still one more step–it’s brand loyalty.
If we were to wrap this into a Tinder analogy, this would be the part in the relationship where they opt to keep dating you (instead of ghosting after three dates). You’re building a relationship.
You want people to feel:
These people are likely going to be the ones who buy from you more than once. They’re the ones who refer their friends. They like, comment, and share everything.
Who are the brands who have managed to pull this off?
- Kleenex & Bandaid have developed such strong brand equity that people now use their brand names in lieu of the product name.
- Harley Davidson & Disney sell more than just products and experiences. Even though they’re both incredibly different, they’ve both built very distinct communities that people openly endorse among their friends and family.
If you can grow the brand equity of your business, that means you will be less vulnerable to competitive marketing and price changes.
Pretty awesome, right?