East Arlington, TX (PressExposure) October 12, 2009 -- Small and large businesses alike know how important brand equity is in today's overcrowded market. They know this even if they do not know exactly what it entails.
Brand equity is the outcome related to how your customer would recognize your difference from competitors and why you are the better alternative. It is the value of your brand to the customer.
Brand equity stems from the customer's experiences with your product or service. When a customer has used your product over and over again, that builds equity, or value, in your brand. Your value to the customer is what separates you from your competition. It is what makes customers loyal to your brand and motivates them to refer to their friends.
Many try to create the level of brand equity those great companies like Coca-Cola and Sony have. It takes hard work to get to that level, but it is not impossible, especially when you implement the following steps in your marketing plan.
1. Define your positioning. This is the one thing your company stands for in the minds of your customers. You need to clarify your positioning in the market among your competitors. "One" is the important word here. You must define your brand position with just one element. Ask yourself and your employees, what is the one thing that makes you different and better than the competition?
2. Let everyone know your story and bring it to life. Position statements are often internal statements that need to be made external. The way to do that is by telling a story. Document your best corporate stories, which are likely to come from the founder, that best reflect your positioning statement.
Cracker Barrel, a well-known restaurant that serves "old country" food and has "old country" stores that shelve nostalgic brands of candy in nostalgic wrappers, is positioned to bring that old country feeling back to people. Everything about their restaurants and stores reminds people of a time long gone. Their Web site and their menus tell the story of how the first store and restaurant opened in Tennessee in the 1960s to give travelers a place to get a good meal and pick up candy for their kids on their way home.
These old time stores often had a barrel of saltine crackers that the community members would gather around to visit with friends. Therefore, Cracker Barrel was born and its story is told through the menus, Web site and everything that is in the store, down to the old look of the labels on the candy and other products. Cracker Barrel tells its story in text on its Web site and in everything. It does in its stores, including the label printing.
3. Build the brand before the transaction. Before the customer gets to the cash register, or even to the store, start branding. The easiest way to do this is to give something away that has your branding on it. It does not have to be something big; it could be a free notepad at the door or even an email coupon for a free item in customers' email inboxes. As long as the coupon has your logo and elements of your brand on it, it counts toward building your brand equity.
4. Measure efforts. You can simply ask customers when they come into your store what they think of your brand, or you can do some research on your own. You can send out surveys to customers and prospects in the area or you can check the social media conversations going on about your brand. Consumers are quite active on forums, blogs and chats, especially when they are unhappy about a product or service, so check out what people are saying about you online. Vendor-rating Web site Technorati and Yelp are great places to start.
By implementing these steps, the road to building brand equity will be a lot smoother and a lot shorter. In addition, the great thing about these steps is that you can get started on that road today.