Why do we buy Advil over generic ibuprofen? Why do our kids want the cereal with Toucan Sam instead of the generic fruit rings? Why is generic soda just not the same as our favorite brand-name soft drinks? These decisions usually have something to do with brand equity, and as you’ll discover, many factors contribute to the equity of a brand including messaging, creative, audience targeting and media placement.
Finding Clarity for Brand Equity
Brand equity is sometimes described using other terms such as “commercial value”, “appeal” or “sway”, but the intent is the same. Brand equity is the measure of a brand-name product’s perceived worth.
It’s the reason that when faced with essentially identical products, we choose the recognizable and slightly more expensive brand instead of generic alternatives. However, brand recognition is not necessarily the same thing as equity. A brand can be recognizable without increasing a brand’s value or worth in the eyes of the consumer. The recognition of brands such as United Airlines, Wells Fargo, or Comcast may even negatively impact their equity.
The brand-owning company can capitalize on brand equity by raising the purchase price of the brand-name product. There is no difference in the cost of production for a brand-name and generic version of the same product, but as the customer opts to pay extra for the branding in addition to the product itself, the brand-owning company increases its profit margin and gains a stronger market share of their industry.
Contributing Brand Equity Factors
When you’ve successfully fostered equity for your brand, you’ll notice that consumers perceive it as being more reliable, higher quality, recognizable and memorable. There are many brand equity factors that contribute to a product’s perceived value by consumers.
Brand awareness can be defined as consumer knowledge related to your brand and products. When consumers have a sense of familiarity and feel like they understand what they’re buying, that can impact their perception of your brand-name product. For instance, consider why people keep buying new iPhones to replace their old iPhones; they know what they’re getting, they’re comfortable with the OS and they believe this smartphone will best meet their needs.
Awareness can also be measured in terms of its topicality. How often are people thinking or discussing your brand or its products? A major indicator of how aware consumers are of you is the amount of mentions on social media, search volume for your brands or products, store traffic or media mentions.
The first step of brand equity is learning that it exists. Once consumers know about you, that’s when they start to form positive or negative opinions associated with your products through interactions. Finally, after enough exposure to your brand, they’ll subconsciously determine how much value your brand possesses and thereby how much they prefer to spend to get your products over a competitor’s.
The precise reason(s) your brand’s products are preferred varies. It could be an emotional connection (such as growing up eating a specific brand of ice cream), accessibility (a store that is only available in a certain area), or relevance to their life (college students choosing one bookstore over another for their student discounts).
3. Output of Marketing Materials
Assessing consumer behavior regarding awareness of and preference for your brand helps you understand your brand’s reception, but you can also look to your own behavior to see how strong brand equity is, too. Output is a measure of your marketing activity, the amount of time and budget invested to produce marketing assets released to the public. How often are marketing materials produced? What is the frequency of your campaigns? You can also evaluate equity through the impact of offers and other promotions. If your output and impact aren’t high, your brand equity likely won’t be either.
Building Brand Equity
The brand equity factors that contribute to a product’s value in the eyes of consumers do not come about without deliberate advertising and messaging efforts.
1. Consistency in Messaging
When people are looking for the products and/or services your brand offers, you want your name to come to mind. That is achieved through establishing a strong, consistent identity. There are a number of ways to go about this, but in all of them, the key is consistency in your messaging:
Using the same logo and branding all the time
Doubling down on your brand story
Practicing the values and beliefs your brand represents
Sending out regular emails and newsletters
Curate every interaction with your brand whether it’s in-store or on social media
2. Using Feedback to Improve Preference
Once you identify what about your brand and the consumer experience makes people prefer it, you can determine a way to recreate the same feelings in others. One way to accomplish this is through feedback. Engage with loyal consumers regularly to gauge their reaction to everything from marketing campaigns to customer service. If one of your key brand equity factors is consumers’ emotional connection to your brand from their childhood, for example, tap into that nostalgia to encourage parents to expose your products to their children.
3. Get in Front of Your Audience
All the work you put in to cultivate equity for your brand won’t move the needle if you aren’t getting in front of the people that will see the most value in the products and services you offer. You should already know what problems your brand is most capable of solving and who will find your solution the most relevant to their lives. You may not know where exactly these people are and how to best find and engage with them.
To ensure marketing output is properly deployed, many brands work with media agencies that specialize in media planning and buying. Media planners and buyers are key players in the advertising ecosystem that work together to plan and execute marketing campaigns that reach the right audiences, stay on-budget and meet engagement goals.
Build Brand Equity With The Ward Group
You probably didn’t consider media buying as one of the brand equity factors that you needed to account for, but without a well-executed media strategy, your brand won’t be able to influence its audience as effectively as it otherwise could. Our agency has been planning and buying media since 1985, so we’re well aware of the positive effects a successful campaign has for brands across all industries. Whether your audience is watching TV, surfing the web, listening to the radio or doing nearly anything other than living under a rock, our media stewards will help you reach them. Contact us today to start building brand equity in your market.