The Four Essential Elements of Brand Equity
Whether you’re a new company just setting down roots or an established business, brand equity is at the heart of how your company is perceived and the value customers place on your product or service. Regardless of your size, from humble small B&B’s to large-scale operations, your influence and reach will expand by mastering the four key elements of brand equity: awareness, distinction, perceived quality, and loyalty.
Along with it, you’ll need to tell the story of why your brand is unique and what sets you apart. And in an online world that grows ever more vast and competitive, carefully crafting your brand has never been more critical.
To take the example of video streaming, Netflix represents the pinnacle of brand awareness – we all know what they do and who they are as a company, and most of the world has watched a video or show on its platform. Their ubiquity in the streaming market is backed by the numbers, as their brand awareness in the United States is a remarkable 94%. Although they are at the top of the branding pyramid, they had to start from humble beginnings as a DVD-in-the-mail company (remember those days?).
Over the years, their brand went through the four steps of growth: no awareness at first, then recognition, eventually widespread recall, and ultimately top-of-mind. Your business is not video streaming, but it’s helpful to think of your brand’s progression similarly. You’ll have very little brand recognition at first, but by gradually building awareness, more people will recognize your name, brand, logo, and, most importantly, your story.
By creating a well-designed website focusing on what makes you unique, with relevant and engaging blog writing (one of the many services we offer in our marketing packages), you’ll rank high in SEO and build your brand on the search engines at the same time.
With over 1 billion websites (and counting) worldwide, standing out from competitors is crucial to growing your brand. Your focus should be on what makes your brand unique.
Is your origin story compelling? Put it front and center on your website and social media posts.
Is your Hawaii bed & breakfast in the middle of a Big Island rainforest and a world away from cookie-cutter hotel chains? Tell people about it.
Everything plays an important role, from the main photo on your landing page to your brand logo and social media presence, and the goal should be to grab the viewer’s eye and attention. If they remember you, they’re more likely to think of your product or service the next time they search for it.
Perceived Brand Quality
A pillar of brand equity is how your brand is perceived and what quality a potential customer assigns to it. Starbucks exemplifies one element of perceived brand quality – your latte order at a Starbucks in Los Angeles will taste the same as at a Starbucks in Berlin. Through quality control, the customer knows what they’ll get every time. However, suppose your local coffee shop is active in your community and supports good causes. In that case, your company garners a different form of perceived brand quality, attached not just to the product itself but to your company’s valued work locally and even globally. Patagonia is a shining example of this concept, as they have pledged 1% of all profits to environmental causes since 1985. In addition to their reputation for long-lasting and well-made outdoor gear, their customers attach extra value and quality to every purchase, knowing that part of their money goes towards environmental stewardship.
Whatever line of business you are in, spotlight your brand’s value, and aim to deliver quality consistently. If you are in the vacation rental or independent lodging space, happy guests become return guests, especially if they always have exceptional stays.
Creating loyal return customers turns an average brand into a thriving one, solidifying brand equity. Sometimes loyalty is won simply by convenience (see: Amazon), but more times than not, brand devotion is rooted in emotional connection. If your parents drove a Toyota throughout your childhood, establishing a nostalgic link to the brand, you’re more likely to buy a Toyota in your adult years. It also doesn’t hurt that Toyotas seem to run forever, and seeing 30-plus-year-old Corollas still trucking along is a real-life advertisement for their reliability. Toyota’s top-of-the-market brand equity speaks to people’s trust in their company, another essential component of brand loyalty.
Rewarding your loyal customers also creates a positive brand association, so take advantage of your all-important email list to reach out to people with special promotions. When customers feel valued, they’re more likely to talk to their friends and family about your brand, company, or service, creating free word-of-mouth advertising, perhaps the most valuable way to build loyalty and brand awareness organically.