The Basics of Building Brand Equity
Brand equity is a buzzword that is often tossed about in conversation, but not typically defined or measured. So what exactly does it mean? Personally, I like this definition from businessdictionary.com:
A brand's power derived from the goodwill and name recognition it has earned over time, and which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands.
Brand equity is difficult to measure, but very valuable. Think Coca Cola, Nike and IBM – the world’s top three brands.
So how can you build brand equity for your business, particularly when your budget is stretched? Here are three essential steps to leveraging your brand:
1. Begin with a clear, focused position
The first step to building brand equity is to define your positioning: the single thing your company stands for in relation to your target customers. The emphasis is on a single differentiator: what really matters the most. Is it bend-over-backwards service, unique technology that saves money or the ultimate in luxury? This exercise can sometimes be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.
When you’re defining your position, make sure that you survey internal and external audiences to ensure that their perspective matches yours. If not, there is work to be done to fulfill that promise.
2. Communicate who you are
Now that you’ve definitively determined who you are, you need to communicate that to your target audiences and make sure that the way your company looks and feels to the outside world matches your brand promise. Have a look at your branding program or hire an outside firm to conduct a brand audit. Do your name and logo make the impression you want? And what about your website – this is typically the first place a prospective client goes to learn more about your company. If you’re in a conservative field that requires a high level of trust (legal, accounting, engineering, finance), professionalism is paramount. If you’re marketing to young consumers, fun and edgy might fit the bill. At any rate, you want to look like you’re a going concern and not home-grown.
3. Reinforce the message
A good way to erode your equity is inconsistent branding across different mediums. Ideally, all of your communications materials should have a common look and feel as well as messaging. Also don’t damage your brand by straying away from its values. For example, if you’re a premium brand, resist discounting, ensure that distribution channels are in sync with what is expected of a premium brand, and build consistent associations throughout your promotional campaign.
The above steps are the foundation of a solid brand strategy. Remember: start with a clear, focused position, effectively communicate your message and be diligent in how your brand is represented in the marketplace. You don’t need a big budget to do this – only some time.