BY KAY CRUSE, VICE PRESIDENT, VOC | ABOUT KAY
What makes one brand more valuable than another? When it comes to defining brand equity, that is the fundamental issue driving our Voice of the Customer (VOC) research.
For B2B clients, equity is even more important because it generates the lifeline of profitability between the company and its customer.
Equity can be measured by understanding how customers experience a brand: how they have navigated the four distinct steps necessary to achieve brand strength.
- Generate Brand Awareness
The most basic level involves the simple recognition that a brand has among its end-user audience. The greater the awareness, the more potential a brand has. But potential alone is not enough to reach a high level of brand strength.
- Understand the Customer’s Perception
When a business is engaged in more than one market segment, brand perception may not be the same for each segment or product. When evaluating brand equity, consider each market individually and overall. Among which audiences are there shared versus unique views? Brands with a strong foundation maintain consistent perceptions and messages in their specific segment—and sometimes even across market segments.
- Create a Two-Way Relationship
The next step can be more challenging: building the relationship between the brand and the end user. Many companies err on the side of focusing only on a ‘one-way’ street delivery: this is what we’ll give our customers, when in fact, customers may not place any value on that deliverable. Think of successful brand building as a two-way street: ask, offer, ask, answer, and ask again.
- Gain the Customer’s Loyalty
The most creative brands uncover meaningful solutions by listening to customers. The insights that customers provide will ultimately enable a business to attain the highest level in brand building: brand loyalty. Robust brand loyalty reflects the trust that the customer has in the brand—assuring consistent performance, profitability, and corporate health. More importantly, solid brand loyalty is a bankable trait: it can provide a cushion of forgiveness needed when mistakes are made or the business falters.
Determining Whether a Brand Is Weak or Strong
There are key signs of trouble as well as good fortune when it comes to brand building. Troubled or weak brands will inevitably be more sensitive to price. Customers will seek the best “deals” and will “shop around” more frequently.
Brands with strong relationships and loyalty among customers are more likely to be recommended to others as a “first choice.” These advocacy brands frequently enjoy premium pricing, because there is more to the brand than simple product parity. In fact, brands with the strongest advocacy will achieve an average 27% more revenue growth over comparable industry counterparts.
Brands with strong equity differentiate themselves among industry peers by delivering a distinctive offering. Equity is a measurable element, so executing effective qualitative discovery and smart VOC research can help companies establish a solid plan for success.