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5 Steps for Creating Brand Equity

5 Steps for Creating Brand Equity
5 Steps to Building Brand Equity
Some products have been so successfully branded that their name is synonymous with an activity. Take facial tissues. People don’t blow their noses on facial tissues, they use Kleenex. No one uses an Internet search engine, they Google it. But that doesn’t happen overnight; brand equity takes time and the know-how to develop. Dana Alden, a William R. Johnson Jr. Distinguished Professor at the University of Hawaii Shidler College of Business Administration, gives these tips to build brand visibility and familiarity.

Brand your company as a quality leader and a quality competitor in your industry. If you create a quality product for a reasonable price, the margins tend to be larger, producing more money toward research and development, training and enhancing the product. The danger in setting yourself up as the low-cost leader is that products emphasizing the low-price aspect tend to have short product life cycles. “When you get into that game, one starts continuously having to fend off other lower-priced, lower-quality competitors coming into the marketplace,” Alden says. “It tends to often spin down on itself and forces you into a corner.”

When someone says MP3 player, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? iPod. Coffee? Starbucks. When any product is brought up, the top three brands typically come to mind. “You want your brand to be there,” says Alden. For a small business, that means making sure to target your customer base and niche market. Your product might not become a household name, but if you’re selling gelato to all the high-end restaurants in town, you are hitting your market. Keep in mind that mass advertising might not work for your business. For small businesses, it’s best to keep one-on-one contact with your customers.

What is your brand? What is its personality? Whatever your product, it should be different from what’s out there. It should have its own unique set of associations. For example, Chevy trucks have been marketed as a working man’s truck. “People get to know your brand like a friend,” Alden says. Position your brand as being something that is fun; make it an experience. It should be the brand people want to take to a party – you can vouch for it, you don’t have to worry about its appearance and it is going to have a good time with everybody.

Once you get customers associated with your product, you need to keep them. Maintaining good customer relations management is vital. Always strive to get the same value without paying more. Listen to feedback from customers. Build loyalty programs, like a club card, or offer discounts to frequent shoppers. Loyalty can be gained by knowing your customers. In the past, people would go to their local butcher and he would make suggestions based on preferences and past purchases. Pitch discounts and ideas to customers that are relevant to their needs. “It’s better than just mass marketing, where one size fits all,” Alden says.

Expand your brand into complementary categories. If your company makes sneakers, athletic shirts and shorts would be a sensible brand extension, but putting out computer software under the same brand would be too far reaching. “That’s where companies get into trouble,” Alden says. “They assume that their equity, their franchise is a much stronger force in the marketplace than it may be and they dilute the value of their home brand, the one that got them there."

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