As with all categories, some within it are stronger than others. Brands are not an exception.
You can help strengthen brand equity in an ever-changing marketplace by conducting surveys that give you a better idea of how your customers view your brand. You’ll also see chances for improvement and growth reveal themselves in the survey.
The more you understand how customers view your brand, the better off you’ll be. Companies can get started by following a plan with four simple steps with an easy-to-remember acronym: LARP (Loyalty, Awareness, Relationship, Perception). Just be careful mentioning the term “LARP” around gamers, anime and cosplay enthusiasts. To them, LARP means live-action role-playing fun rather than branding.
Loyalty: Just as real estate agents are fond of focusing on “location, location, location,” as far as your customers are concerned, you should “listen, listen, listen” to them in order to cultivate loyalty to your brand. Provide incentives for them to become and remain your customer, such as loyalty cards, early notices of offers, or a bonus item based on a qualified purchase. The more loyal your customers are, the more they’ll be supportive and understand if something doesn’t go as planned with your company. It’s easier to respond when you’ve shown appreciation and care for your customers all along. For instance, if a book is on backorder due to a shipping delay from the printer, then say so, thank customers for understanding, provide a new estimated arrival date and offer alternate books they might like in the meantime.
Awareness: In this initial step, you’re doing your best to develop knowledge of your brand among your target audience, the end user. Deploying social media, regular media, advertising, events and other methods can help create a buzz about your brand that can pay dividends in the future. Decide what your brand promise will be and confirm that living up to it is possible, even if it is a stretch. It is better to start out small and grow organically and intelligently than to try to be all things to everyone right away and not be able to live up to expectations.
Relationships: Have you ever known anyone who ended a conversation with you by saying, “It was nice talking to you,” and you realized that’s exactly what the person did – talk to you, not with you? A message delivered to your customer is just that – a message — unless you receive feedback about the message. Then it’s communication. A representative from the Ernst & Young accounting firm advised a manufacturer, “It’s not enough to make great stuff. It has to be great stuff somebody wants to buy.” Building relationships with your distribution network, suppliers and customers so communication is free-flowing will provide you with that knowledge and help keep you on the right track.
Perception: Know what the customer’s perception is of your brand, especially if you have a variety of market segments, like an auto manufacturer. Each market segment may have different wants, needs and perceptions of your offerings. They may not overlap. A compact car buyer may just want comfortable, reliable transportation while a luxury car buyer may want a vehicle with the power of a rocket and the accessories of a resort like a yacht on wheels. Know if your particular customer is price conscious, or willing to pay a premium price willingly for a premium product. And customers may change from one category to another depending on a life situation or the rate of inflation. Focus also on what differentiates you from your competition and mention it. The feature may not even be all that different, but you may be the only one in the marketplace to be talking about it and shining a spotlight on it as a valued feature.
To move forward effectively, assess your brand to see where you are now and how to propel your brand to greater heights. Monitoring your brand in a variety of ways will help you keep ahead of the competition and notice changes in the marketplace that can arrive as quickly as a sudden thunderstorm. Identify brand advocates, both internally and externally. Surveys can be utilized in a prepackaged format or be customized to the information specific to your industry to ensure you’ll receive the insights you seek.
The data you receive will provide you with information you can act upon to improve or continue because they are working. Once a survey is completed and the results received, the work is just beginning. Brand health means you can never take your hand off the wheel and leave the steering of your organization on autopilot. Strengthening brand equity is an ongoing challenge and process.