Brand equity is essentially, the added intrinsic value customers give a particular brand over its natural less recognized competition. It is the value of having an established or well-known name. Here is how Investopedia puts it; “the value premium that a company realizes from a product with a recognizable name as compared to its generic equivalent…”
Branding expert David Aaker puts it as, “A set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol, that adds to or subtracts from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers.”
Customers believe that a product associated with an established brand (or established name) is better than products with less well-know names. The value customers give this brand might be as a result of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, if I told you there is a great search engine out there called blueliquidsearch with great result set, fast and reliable, you are not likely going to do your next look up there. You would rather stick to Google. Why? Google has built great brand equity over time. You are most likely going to look up the name blueliquidsearch on Google. Funny, right? You also know Google has competition in its search space but how many times have you used them? Not often I am sure.
Google always keep it simple and cosnistent. Customers like that. Well, I like that.
There are many factors that go into building brand equity and at the heart of each is developing a brand that consumers want to experience. Most businesses think about customer experience, but they don’t value it as a critical component of the brand experience. Let alone developing it as a core competence.
Let me share a personal experience. I went to a restaurant for lunch. I went in to place my order. While I was waiting for my order, a customer made a special request that was not on the menu. The attendant made a smirk. Then, she said out of a feigned smile, “we don’t have it on the menu.” But the customer insisted that they could make an exception. The truth is, he was not asking for anything that could not be done.
So I walked up to the attendant and said, “Hello, I think you can make an exception here. What he is asking for is only a matter of taking two different items on your menu and making it one. ” As expected, I got the same smirk. So I asked to see the manager. She shrugged but went on to call him.
When the manager came, he was polite. That was expected. Then I explained the customer’s request, politely. He smiled and said, “coming up in like 15minutes if you can wait…” The customer nodded. Before the manager left, I said, “you might want to make that one of your special menu. Customers’ request and feedback is good for business.”
He smiled in agreement.
Maybe many other customers would make the same special request or maybe not but the attitude of the manager changed the customer’s experience. If you are in the food business, a hungry and picky customer is not one to mess around with.
The ambience of the restaurant was lovely. My lunch was great. But then it occurred to me, how brands invests a lot in putting up great physical structures but little or nothing to building customer relations. The truth is, all the little things you do (or don’t do) for your customers will make irrelevant the big things you may claim through large communicating channels and advertisements.
Thanks to the growth of technology, influx of social media, as you read this, your customers are talking about your brand based on their last experience with you. All happening at the mercy of the next keystroke. Their judgement affects your brand’s perception—effectively, your brand equity. You can’t afford to leave that to chance.
If you are in the business to make money, build and grow your brand equity, taking care of your customer should be number one priority—make the customer experience human, consistent and relevant.
If your customers come first, your brand comes first.
There are many benefits brands with significant equity enjoy. Host of which include timeless customer loyalty, less vulnerability to competitive marketing actions or marketing crises; larger margin as well as more favorable customer response to price change; greater trade or intermediary cooperation and support; increased marketing communication effectiveness; and licensing brand extension opportunities. The list is endless.
There are many ways to build brand equity but I stand corrected; a great customer experience sits at the top of the list. Customers are your best advocates and their experience with you, will often direct their coversation in relation to your brand.
Therefore, creating great experiences for your customers at every engagement across the customer journey should be a defintive brand goal. You can never go wrong on your Return On Customer Experience (ROCE) if you give it the attention it deserves.