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How to measure brand equity

Brand equity comes down to the quality of service delivered, customer satisfaction, differentiation of your offering, and the amount of time your brand has been around.

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Image: Unsplash

When it comes to branding, the main goal is to get more people to buy more things at a higher price for a long time – easier said than done. 

In the B2B space, brands tend to focus on individual relationships with clients while putting their branding on the back burner. While client relationships are certainly important, branding is also essential for a company’s long-term success.

The truth is, your company could be missing out on some serious advantages by ignoring your brand. Things like charging a price premium and gaining loyal clientele who advocate for your brand are all things that come with high brand equity. 

What is Brand Equity

Brand equity is the value attributed to your brand’s name, based on the general perception of your brand. Another way of looking at brand equity is the sway or influence your brand’s name has on a client’s decision-making process.

Clients are willing to pay more for a brand with a bigger sway, meaning you can charge a price premium and beat out a no-name or generic brand with a similar offering. 

B2B service brands that focus on building their brand equity can increase their profits through client retention and loyalty, and by charging price premiums. It is gradually built up over time through:

  1. Well-designed client experiences
  2. Top notch customer service
  3. The very best product or service in your industry

Since brand equity relies on awareness and client perception, it’s important to develop a strong brand positioning before brand equity can be built up. Make sure you know who your ideal clients are (through in-depth interviews and market research) before diving in.

Components of Brand Equity

There are four main components of brand equity based on marketing professor Kevin Lane Keller’s Customer Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model. Below is a breakdown of each.

Identity

Before building brand awareness, successful brands first define who their ideal clients are. They look at the wants and needs of their ideal client and determine how their brand can meet and exceed those needs better than anyone else.

Through market research and interviews, successful brands create a clear image of their ideal client and base their brand identity around that client.

Once that is done, the next step is brand recognition. A brand with high equity will ask themselves:

  • Does our brand stand out? 
  • Is our brand something our ideal clients will see and remember?
  • Do our clients perceive our brand in the way we intend them to perceive it?

This brings us to the next component: 

Meaning

Meaning can be broken down further into performance (how well a brand’s offering serves its customers) and imagery (how clients perceive a brand). These two things go hand in hand and contribute to an overall feeling or association your clients will form.

Let’s say, for example, you are a construction company that prides itself on sustainability. It can be assumed that you will attract clients whose interests and values align with yours.

So, if you use high-quality, responsibly sourced building materials in your construction projects, you are showing your clients what your brand stands for and how your actions represent their ideals. This increases loyalty and promotes word-of-mouth referrals, all of which increase your profits.

Response

We are all guilty of judging a book by its cover. It’s only natural for clients to form judgments on a brand based on feeling alone. How clients respond to a brand provides a key insight into a brand’s equity. A client’s response comes from things like quality, value, customer service, and credibility.

A brand with high equity will reflect on the associations their clients are making with its brand. Whether or not that association is positive and correct is a great marker for the success of that brand.

Relationship 

The final component of brand equity involves the relationship between clients and a brand. This involves how a brand resonates with clients and how clients have identified themselves with said brand. 

The relationship component is at the top of the CBBE model because it is the most important (and difficult) component to achieve – it takes time. As a brand begins to establish itself in its category, and as it gains a loyal following of clients, a successful brand will continue to nurture its brand/client relationship.

Examples of Positive and Negative Brand Equity

amazon logo on wooden planks
Image: Fox Business

Brand equity describes the weight a brand name has in its industry. Sometimes that weight (value) is positive and other times it is negative. Below are examples of both in the B2B space.

Positive

If you have ever needed to sign an important document like a lease or contract, it’s likely you’ve used DocuSign. In the eSignature space, there were many companies offering similar services and it was DocuSign who was one of the first companies to provide customers with a quick and secure way to access and sign documents. 

In order to stay relevant in the industry, DocuSign regularly researches and updates its process to ensure customers get the latest in eSignature technology. So, while there are other eSignature services out there, no one can compete with DocuSign’s credibility and efficiency. 

Negative

Sometimes a brand that has high equity in one field will try to use that to its advantage when branching out into another industry.

Swatch, the Swiss watchmaker, made an attempt to produce a car back in the ’80s and ’90s. Imagine that, a watchmaker looking to pivot and start producing cars – a category in which it was completely unrecognized and had no experience in.

This is a prime example of a brand watering down its positioning with an inexplicable, widening array of product offerings – and therefore the brand’s equity diminished as consumers were unsure of what Swatch truly meant or where it was going.

However, once Diamler AG (owner of Mercedes-Benz) bought out and developed the Swatch Mobile project, consumers perked up and responded beautifully. Today it is known as the Smart Car.

In essence, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), with an already fantastic track record in automotive, utilized its brand equity to establish the new product and it ended up being wildly successful.  

How to measure brand equity

Given the number of factors at play, measuring brand equity is no easy task. Using a combination of hard and soft metrics is a great way to develop a full picture of your brand’s equity.   

Hard Metrics 

Hard metrics relate to quantifiable financial data like sales and financial metrics. They are measured consistently to provide a clear picture of the profitability of a brand. The results of these datasets offer insights into current predictions of a brand’s success.

They also offer predictions on client trends that can be useful in a brand’s continued efforts towards building high equity.

Measuring brand equity through hard metrics can look like this:

Brand EvaluationThis includes the market value of a brand, the cost of creating the brand, and how much the company saved because of the brand.
Output MetricsThe profit value added to a brand based on it’s email marketing, social media messaging, or other outputs. 
Financial DataThe sales performance and financial results of growing the brand. Look at price premiums and the cost of acquiring and retaining clients.
Competitive MetricsHow competitors measure up to the brand; note their strengths and weaknesses that could affect market performance. 

Soft Metrics

Soft metrics, on the other hand, deal with qualitative data. This data is harder to measure as it deals in emotions and client experience but is equally important when measuring brand equity. Soft metrics explain emotional decisions and brand perceptions in the eyes of its clients. 

Soft metrics can look like:

Brand StrengthMetrics pulled from client surveys that assess the brand’s performance and desirability in its field.
Brand AwarenessHow well known the brand is to clients and competitors. Use surveys, focus groups, and other feedback to ascertain data.
Brand RelevanceThe unique value a brand provides to its clients, determined through client satisfaction surveys.

Next Steps

By now it should be clear that brand equity is essential to a brand’s long-term success. Brand equity comes down to the quality of service delivered, customer satisfaction, differentiation of your offering, and the amount of time your brand has been around.

Here are some actionable steps you can take now to bolster your brand equity: 

  1. Build awareness: Whether that be through email subscriptions, social media engagements, paid advertising, or something else, make sure your brand is reaching your ideal clients.
  2. Design the experience: Have a well designed client experience with excellent customer service to ensure overall satisfaction.
  3. Provide the best offering: It may seem obvious but in order to be well-regarded in your industry your product or service needs to be top tier. Listen to client feedback to uncover ways that your offering can be better.
  4. Measure over time: Monitor hard and soft metrics to analyze your success. 
  5. Optimize: Using data, optimize your process to ensure the long term success of your brand.

All of these components work to establish strong brand equity. As you continue to cultivate it over time, your brand will soon (hopefully) become a leading name in its industry.

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