Measuring Brand Equity To Build A Strong Brand
A brand is much more than a company’s name, its logo, a slogan, or its products. A brand is the culmination of a series of interactions that customers, or potential customers, have with the brand through a wide variety of touch points. The quality of the experiences at each of the touch points determines the overall equity of the brand. Therefore, a brand must make sure that it measures the key components that drive brand equity: awareness, experience, customer value, and competitive differences. Marketing research can help an organization understand the strength of its brand, vis-à-vis the competition. Understanding the brand’s strengths and weaknesses allows an organization to make the necessary changes to build a stronger brand.
In order for a customer to demand a company’s products and/or services, the customer must know that the company exists. Furthermore, the customer must also be cognizant of the products and services that a company offers. The most important measurement when evaluating a brand’s equity is the percentage within the customer pool who are familiar enough with the brand to rate its performance across the remaining inputs to determine brand equity.
At Saurage Research, Inc. we measure awareness through two methods, unprompted recall and prompted recall. For example, an unaided awareness question when measuring brand equity for an oilfield services company might be:
“When thinking about drill bit providers, what company first comes to mind?”
This type of question will allow the brand to better understand the top-of-mind awareness that customers have with a brand. The stronger the top-of-mind awareness that customers have for a brand, the stronger the brand’s equity is likely to be.
In addition to the unprompted awareness question, overall brand familiarity across all brands in the competitive set must be measured. To measure overall awareness, a survey question may be presented in the following manner:
Please indicate your level of familiarity with each of the following drill bit providers:
As is obvious in the previous example, not only is the level of awareness determined, but also the level of utilization of the brands within the drill bits category. Utilization, when coupled with awareness, is a strong measurement that is related to overall customer satisfaction and customer retention.
In order for a brand’s customer base to grow, the customer experience must be a consistently positive one. While customer needs vary from industry to industry, a brand’s performance on specific attributes must be measured. Although it is important to satisfy the 20% of the customers that comprise the 80% of the revenue generated, it is also important to deliver a consistent experience to the remaining customer set.
When measuring customer experience, it is not enough to measure the performance of the products and services that a company provides to its customers. Personality characteristics are also an important factor that enhances a brand’s equity. Personality characteristics include such things as friendliness, timeliness, and availability when questions arise.
Saurage Research, Inc. designs its questionnaires with the entire customer experience in mind. An example of a question to understand the customer experience may resemble the following:
Please indicate how well each of the following describes [Company Name Here] as a supplier of drill bits. You may use any number between 0 and 10 where a rating of “0” means “Does not describe at all” and a rating of “10” means “Describes Exactly.”
Of course each questionnaire will be designed to fit the objectives of the research and the client. But as is obvious in the previous example, personality as well as performance attributes are measured in order to determine the overall customer experience. When measured in aggregate, the consistency of the customer experience across geographic regions, customer size, product usage and/or other key attributes may be measured.
An organization can never completely satisfy the needs of every potential customer in the competitive set. This is the case because customers naturally segment into groups who place a higher level of importance on certain attributes than do others. The varying value levels may be a result of the overall price that customers want to pay for a product/service, policies and restrictions that they must abide by within their geographic region, or in-house expertise that does not require that their suppliers be viewed as the industry experts. Understanding the value proposition of the customer enables a company to save marketing and product development resources by optimizing the product and service offering to groups within these customer segments.
To understand the level of importance that customers place on certain product and personality characteristics, a survey question may look as follows:
Please indicate the level of importance you place on each of the following characteristics when you are seeking a drill bit supplier. You may use any number between 0 and 10 where a rating of “0” means “Not at all important” and a rating of “10” means “Extremely important.”
By conducting a cluster analysis when reviewing the data in aggregate, the brand can better understand the characteristics of groups who place higher level of importance on similar characteristics. By concentrating sales and performance on these characteristics, a company can increase the value that its customers derive from the relationship.
Not every brand can be the low-cost leader, provide the fastest delivery, have the widest variety of products within the category, have the largest footprint in the industry, and have the most technical expertise while providing the highest quality product. Differentiation must exist or no company could expect to differentiate itself on anything other than price. As stated previously, customers value different characteristics, and suppliers tend to develop their product and service offerings to satisfy the needs of attractive customer segments.
By developing a matrix using the customer value and consistent experience measurements, an organization can better understand where and how it can differentiate itself from its competitors. Armed with this information, marketing and product development teams can tailor messaging and product features accordingly.
As indicated in the chart above, Competitor A is perceived as providing high quality products that fit a wide array of situations. In addition, it is perceived as a good value relative to the price. These are clearly areas of competitive advantage. However, its customer support system shows a need for improvement as these are also high-importance areas that are not being satisfied by this competitor.
Building a strong brand is more than simply providing a strong product, or satisfying a select few customers. Building a strong brand requires the measurement of key brand equity components, then adapting the company’s performance to meet the high value areas of the customer base.
Saurage Research, Inc. prides itself in helping marketing strategists gauge and track their brand’s performance against key brand equity measurements. We do this by designing custom research programs designed to meet your informational needs.
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