Think BR: The importance of brand equity

By Scott Cullather, brandrepublic.com, Friday, 03 August 2012 08:30AM

It is not just established companies that have most to benefit from the idea of brand equity, writes Scott Cullather, managing partner, inVNT.

Scott Cullather, managing partner, inVNT

Scott Cullather, managing partner, inVNT

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the phrase ‘brand equity’. It reverberates around the walls of multinationals as marketing executives distil the essence of a brand down to a discernible strategy, allowing it to navigate the treacherous waters of marketing and advertising.

What is the value of my brand? How has it achieved this? How can I maintain it? Developing brand equity is vital as it allows companies to more effectively engage with their customer base in such a way that drives brand loyalty, and allows the business to grow further.

But one could argue that it is not just established companies that stand to benefit most from the idea of brand equity.

Start-ups too - those taking that first step into the big bad world of business - must also consider their brand worth, as this will help them to define themselves in the coming years and steer the company to a profitable end goal.

Fledgling brands need as much support as possible, and so the search for customers is first and foremost. However at this early stage it’s critical to focus on the essence of brand values and begin to cultivate these into a developing brand; something that is highly important to a brand's future prospects.  

There is also a tremendous advantage because a start up has the ability to build and leverage early stage brand DNA, enabling it to own a niche in a market and cut through the competitive clutter.

Building core values into a brand from the outset will help to quickly capture a loyal customer base and provide a certain amount of gravitas, or equity required to maintain the initial stable base of customers while simultaneously recruiting further brand loyalists.

The take away message here is that it is paramount to determine a company’s positioning immediately and to proactively develop this into what is almost a personality, as in an ever more crowded marketplace this will define the brand and allow it to stand out from its competitors, something that is necessary in order to capture market share in a world of fickle consumers.

But this is viewing brand equity from a purely external stand point. The importance such values can have on the internal workings and structures of a business are equally critical as this will naturally effect the outward facing brand positioning.

As companies or brands grow and become more established, the threat of losing those initial core values can begin to surface. It’s easy for brand values to become diluted, and this creates a very real risk of losing customer loyalists.

It is therefore crucial to create an internal culture that reflects the brand positioning and can grow the equity of the brand, not devalue it.

This also facilitates the creation of brand advocates among staff, a role that can have great importance in attracting and retaining customers.

In events, a sector in which inVNT is well versed as a specialist events and experiential agency, advocates allow for highly effective brand activation and engagement on a one-to-one basis.

For instance at trade shows where the art of selling is put to the test, customers can instantly sense when representatives do not fully buy into the business they work for or the product they are selling.

Brand equity has a major part to play here, as successful internal brand communication helps to craft employees into the face of the company at industry shows.

These employees are then able to activate the brand among their key target audiences, who in turn can play a vital role in communicating brand messaging to a wider group of customers.

This process of brand communication and activation is a major reason for developing internal buy-in so that advocates can spread the message that your brand wants to reflect.

The nature and value of brand equity is very hard to quantify, with tactics such as word of mouth playing a large part in establishing it.

Measurable marketing campaigns are only one of many potential strategies for brand development, and with the continuing dominance of social media this is not likely to change any time soon.

But just because it's an almost impossible task to put a price on brand equity, it should not be neglected as a major part of the marketing strategy.

On the contrary, the role it plays should take the lead, providing the brand essence that all other marketing strategies and ideas can develop from, ensuring translation of brand values to sales and profit.

Scott Cullather, managing partner, inVNT

This article was first published on brandrepublic.com

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