It’s becoming increasingly difficult for branding and marketing teams to establish and sustain customer loyalty in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive market.
Regardless of whether your business operates in a B2B or B2C environment, building a reputable and recognisable brand can be a challenge due to constantly evolving consumer behaviours.
Today’s customers are more informed and empowered than ever, with access to vast amounts of information at their fingertips. Consequently, brand equity has become a crucial factor for any brand’s survival and success.
This article will delve into brand equity, and the four essential steps for building it to achieve amazing customer loyalty.
What is brand equity?
The value added to a product by its branding, known as brand equity, is a reflection of its true worth. As a brand expands, maintaining and building brand equity becomes increasingly complicated. Although metrics such as revenue, profit, loss, and sales can quantitatively measure brand equity by resulting value, they may not capture the complete picture of how the brand is perceived over time.
Today’s customers may be loyal tomorrow, but potential customers may already be considering other brands. Ultimately, qualitative factors consisting of the overall consumer perception and the positive and/or negative effects on the actions of a brand, can affect reputation, and therefore brand equity.
Consistently crafting and promoting a unique brand story while responding positively to changes in the market can set your brand apart and inspire customer loyalty.
Creating positive customer-based brand equity (CBBE) is crucial for sustainable growth, ensuring that customers continue to choose your brand and are willing to pay a premium for it. While it may seem complex, marketing pioneers are at hand to pave the way to brand equity success.
Keller’s brand equity model
The standout CBBE model was developed by Kevin Lane Keller. In his 1993 book, Strategic Brand Management, Keller, a Professor of marketing, introduced a framework that explains how consumers perceive and evaluate brands – the journey of the customer-brand relationship.
The model provides an easy-to-understand strategic roadmap in the form of a pyramid. From base to tip, the four key steps to follow a successful brand-customer journey.
1. Brand identity – who are you?
A very good question – especially considering you’re asking customers to consider your products or services now, with a view to buy and remain loyal for the long-term.
Becoming a recognised brand is the first step – otherwise known as brand salience.
To achieve salience, your brand needs:
Standing out. Unique logos, colour schemes and other visual elements make you immediately recognisable. Be memorable,
What is your unique value proposition? Establish what makes your brand special – else your competitors are ready to capitalise.
Every employee must use your brand in the same way – across every customer touchpoint. One or more unreliable or inconsistent assets or changes in tone may cause you to lose out.
Presence and accessibility
Brands that are easy to find, use, remember and interact with are more likely to have customers return and spend money for more experiences. Become top-of-mind by meeting your target audience where they already operate.
2. Brand meaning – what are you?
Is it clear what your product or service actually does? With a brand identity established, focusing on meaning is the next key stage. The static and video imagery you use combine with visual and sensory cues like logos, colours, packaging, sound, scent, and touch to help bring it to life.
That’s why this section of the pyramid is made up of two components – brand performance and brand imagery – that go hand in hand to shape meaning.
To establish what your product should mean to customers, your brand needs:
Whilst quality, reliability and price are important, an emotional connection with customers comes through great storytelling, shareable content, and social media engagement.
Unique value proposition
What problems do you solve, and what benefits does your product or service offer? Communicate this effectively and you become relevant and memorable to your target audience.
Personality and symbolism
Brands use visual symbols and metaphors that help communicate personality and values. Being clear in your meaning helps you memorable and customers feel familiar with your brand.
3. Brand response – what about you?
A brand is always vulnerable, even when strong and established. In this step, you must understand and take action on customers’ judgements and feelings – their emotional connection to your brand.
Consider judgement as the perceived quality, integrity and relevance your brand has to your customers and their needs. Informing such judgements are feelings. Responding to such judgments and building positive feelings means consistency is key. In every campaign. At every touchpoint
To positively influence customer responses to your brand, you need:
Respond to customer feedback and trends. More personalised experiences can result in raving fans that feel valued, appreciated and connected to your brand.
Positive emotional appeal
Pay particular attention to key feelings. Uplifting or inspiring communication creates a feeling of community and belonging your customer will want to keep revisiting.
Clear brand meaning
Positive judgements and feelings develop when people know why you exist, and why they should consider you over time.
Commitment to integrity
Brands with a consistent, cohesive and credible message through multichannel marketing, and reinforcing a responsible and positive message, will be remembered for the right reasons.
4. Brand resonance – what about you and me?
Do your customers believe you will continue to commit to fulfilling their needs, and benefit their lives or businesses over time?
Ultimately, resonance is what you’ll achieve for your brand if you’ve successfully delivered on the previous stages in Keller’s model.
To achieve sustained resonance, your brand needs to build and prove:
Having the data to back up which materials are being used by your marketing teams, and which messages are getting the most audience engagement, is key to understanding whether your brand strategy is working
Remain focused on the customer experience. You should always try to avoid mis-steps, but no person or brand is perfect. Know when and how you’ve made the occasional slip. Rectify any damage with a quick and efficient response.
Community is built and strengthened over time, and knowing whether and why your customers feel collectively loyal to you allows you to realign with them as times change.
Your customers love your brand or your product. Repeat purchases are reassuring. Gathered data can give peace of mind that you’re doing the right things and are not neglecting any cracks in the brand-customer relationship.
If you build it, they will come
Ultimately, the success of your brand lies in delivering a consistent message, creating emotional connections, and forging a deep, emotional bond with customers.
Building brand equity in unpredictable times calls for MarTech tools that you can rely on – empowering businesses to respond in real time, to build deep and trusting connections with customers and employees.
Long-lasting and profitable relationships are there for the taking – and Papirfly provides the brand management platform and guidance to unleash the brilliance of your brand and outshine the competition.