You Don’t Control Your Brand's Value, Your Customer’s Do.

With customers scrutinizing brands more than ever before, brand decisions can sway or spoil your value in this volatile marketplace.

A brand is an abstract idea that represents your company and its products with many aspects including logos, typography, messaging, colors, and packaging. The primary task of branding is to communicate and connect with your audience. At its best, a strong brand is recognizable and familiar across all media outlets and consumer touchpoints, and resonates with its consumers in a way that builds memorability and trust. What consumers remember about your brand drives or diminishes the value of your brand. Your products and services may be the best in your industry, but mistakes in branding can cost you everything. Good brand decisions on the other hand, decisions that prioritize and reflect your consumers’ needs, have the power to exponentially raise the value of your business.

With each brand decision that meets or exceeds your audience’s expectations, you build brand equity that elevates your position and worth in the marketplace. But with a marketplace that’s holding brands to higher standards, the stakes are high. In this post we explain brand equity and how it is developed, and take a look at how current events can impact your worth.

What is Brand Equity?

Brand equity is the value consumers give your business. It is the total value of your brand as a distinct asset of your business. This value is determined by your consumers’ perceptions of and experiences with your brand, as well as expectations.

Positive brand equity means your customers have positive opinions about your brand, your products and services. This perception of your brand leads to a deeper trust in your brand’s reliability, and as a result, impacts your customers’ choices.

While the value of your products and services are based on market supply and demand, your brand is capable of obtaining more or less value from your customers’ based on their affinity or aversion to your brand.

How does it work?

When you properly express your brand with brand visual elements, your audience is able to connect with your brand and what it represents. This creates brand awareness. Through consistent delivery of your products and messaging surrounding them, you build reliability. With time and effective branding, you begin to earn recognizability and memorability. As your audience comes to know you and trust they count on you, a loyalty is established.

People tend to align with and buy from brands that reflect their own cares and values. Based on their experiences with your brand, every element of your brand visual identity (colors, logos, messaging, typography, etc.), employees, customer service, advertising, and marketing, your customers form brand associations. These associations allow for your customers to assign value or not to what you offer that extends beyond the quality of your products and services. If you can remain aligned with your customer, connecting with their emotions and aligning with what they stand for, they will be willing to pay more for your brand than others in your category.

Social Issues Matter

Customers, especially millennials and Gen Z, are holding brands to a higher social standard than ever before. This makes your brand equity liable for social issues that matter to your audience.

Numerous brands are currently under public scrutiny for their lack of contributions and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Brands that haven’t publicly made statements, or have tried, but fallen short in the eyes of their customers, are being strongly criticized, and their brands will certainly pay the price (in more ways than having to step up to donate to the cause).

Youth apparel retail company, Free People, for instance, is being met with severe criticism from their followers for not doing enough. After releasing a seemingly blanket statement about ending racism on their social channels, customers demanded their response be clearer and questioned how they will implement change, to which organizations they will be donating, and how they may ensure diversity within. This mistake will certainly lead to a loss of customer allegiance, and likely a large drop in sales as a result of poor brand perception. The loss of revenue will pale in comparison however to the loss of brand equity, as brand equity is largely dictated by the likelihood of returning, loyal customers. Free People will have to work diligently to earn back the trust of their once loyal customers.

Nike, a brand revered for building its brand equity, went above their customers’ expectations and undoubtedly have further strengthened their brand equity as a result. By reversing its iconic slogan in an online video several weeks ago from "Just Do It" to: "For once, Don't Do It," Nike emphasized that no one should be silent in regards to racism, and were met with praise for their actions. Even competitor Adidas shared their video in solidarity. Using their significant platform to spread the message in support of the movement, they showed daring and willingness to listen to their audience. Nike has backed up their statement by committing to maintain a diverse workforce, donating to Black Lives Matter and other organizations and aligning with other brands to join the effort.

These brand actions and customer reactions reveal how critical it is for brands to understand the people in their markets. With a volatile political climate and polarizing social issues sweeping the nation, navigating your brand through these times is no simple task. To ensure your longevity, and with it your brand equity, you must be willing to meet your audience where they are.

Listen to your customers to build brand loyalty

Getting to know your customer, what they are looking for and what they care about, will dictate every decision for your brand and keep you relevant as time goes on. Build a brand foundation that aligns with your customers’ values. Learn to speak their language through your messaging and tone of voice. Appeal further to their preferences and emotions with the right colors, typography and character illustrations. By consistently reflecting your customers’ values you will earn their loyalty and become their preferred brand. According to a 2016 study, brand loyalty makes you seven times more likely to be forgiven for a mistake.

As consumers continue to value brand decisions and expect involvement in social activism, brands must be prepared to listen to their audience in order to maintain and drive more meaningful connections. Your brand equity will rely on your ability to listen to your customers, and follow through consistently. At ATOMIC D we have a thorough process to help you assess your brand and assure you are ready to meet your customers where they are. As experts in branding, we can help you invest in your brand so you experience greater customer valuation and increases in brand equity. Visit www.atomicd.co to learn more or contact us at hitme@atomicd.co.

Now is the Time for a Brand Activism! Learn more about how your brand can drive real impact and avoid the pitfalls of social bandwagoning, click here.

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