First things first, what is brand equity? To use Wikipedia’s definition, it is “the social value of a well-known brand name.” Much like a piece of art is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, a brand’s value is based on what people decide about it. Finding ways to positively impact your audience’s perception increases brand equity. But in the same way that you can’t simply wake up one morning and force people to think in a particular way about your brand, you also can’t create equity overnight. Brand in general is a long game, brand equity is the result of playing the long game well over a period of time, so if you’re looking for a quick earner, this isn’t it.
There are however some practical things you can do now to start influencing your audience’s perception, thus leading to building brand equity:
1. Have a clear brand strategy
We all see the words strategy, vision, mission, values, goals used in all sorts of wrong ways, all muddled up together, that it’s no wonder when people start using these buzz words, we often switch off. So I’m going to start clarifying what a brand strategy is and why it’s vital in the journey of building brand equity.
Put simply, strategy is the plan that is going to get us from A > B.
So first things first, it’s important to know what your ‘B’ is. If you’ve not got a clear goal, decide on one now. Building a brand without know where you’re going is like chartering a yacht with no destination in mind – it might feel nice, but it’s pointless.
Assuming you have a goal in mind, you now need to map the path. Through our work with small business owners Sublime does this through online or in-person brand strategy workshops. Getting under the skin of an organisation is required to reveal its unique DNA, define and understand its audiences and build a value proposition, which is how you position the business in the mind of the ideal customer.
Once your strategy is clear, you can move into mobilising your plan.
2. Grow your audience
Sounds obvious, but if brand is a people game and you haven’t got any people to talk to, your potential for growth will run out very quickly. One way your audience grows is through advocacy, but that is only one way. List building using proven methods of lead generation and lead nurture as well as paid ads, SEO, social media and face-to-face networking (remember that?), are all genuine tactics for growing an audience. And yes, before you ask, we’ve have just landed ourselves firmly in Marketing-ville, and yes the aforementioned tactics can be done with class and without appearing desperate, providing you are offering a genuine solution to a problem your audience has.
3. Guard your reputation
Having the right business model is key to growing brand equity over a long period of time. Why? Because if your business is not set up to grow well, your reputation could be negatively affected. Based on research carried out by Trustpilot, over 60% of online shoppers in the UK would recommend others to stop buying from a company due to bad reputation. You may not be an online business and these stats may be skewed to a particular market or demographic, but nevertheless it shows that your reputation is powerful and certainly worth protecting. So practically, how do you go about ensuring you maintain a good reputation. One way is to be prepared – you need to make sure you have sales and service delivery processes in place, plus an understanding, if not a plan, of how the business will scale as demand increases. Ensuring the wheels don’t fall off when things get busy and the business grows will help alleviate bad press and reviews which will likely follow if people encounter poor service or quality due to the business growing faster than it can cope with.
4. Engage with your audience
How many small businesses talk to their customers or clients about the service they are receiving? Most of the time our energy and focus is on delivering the service for the customer’s, we forgot, or don’t feel it’s appropriate, to ask some questions about their experience with our brand. I think if more small business owners engaged with their customers to ask how they can be served better, most would be surprised at how willing they are to help and how much they are eager to see your business thrive, just as you are eager to help them. How much resource or profit has been lost from small businesses over delivering services or investing in products that don’t shift? Engage with your customers, show them some love, show them you’re listening and not only could you save immense amounts of energy, you will create better business and could give your brand equity a boost by transforming your best customers into your biggest ambassadors.