Are You Building Brand Equity?
While most of our conversations at TalenAlexander are built around branding, we often spend most of our time trying to define the term, brand. However, we rarely talk about developing branding intangibles. While digital marketing, marketing collateral, company culture, and business philosophy comprise a large part of your brand, how can you go about building merit? By merit and intangibles we mean, brand equity.
The same manner in which you build a financial portfolio (acquiring assets) is the method to go about building brand equity. While analytic insight and the creative process are building blocks for marketing your company, how do you add value to your brand? How do you go about gaining assets?
First let’s start by defining brand equity,
In laymen’s terms, it’s less of what you know or who you know, and more on how you are perceived. While the former two are important, they each fall into the bigger purpose of your target audience’s perception. So, what does brand equity consist of?
The intangible value of your brand and its ability to influence others
The relationships you have built and maintained
The tangible value you bring in terms of revenues and growth.
These are your assets. And now that we have a better understanding, we can begin to answer how to go about gaining assets and building brand equity.
In order to build brand equity, you must clearly define who you are. It is a tedious process often involving repetitive and probing questions. We all have created masks in how we present ourselves to one another. For example, few of us would use the same language and gestures when communicating with the POTUS as we do with our siblings. Nor would we exhibit the same behavior in church as we do in an office setting.
This doesn’t mean we are a different person, but merely code switching. We understand the unwritten rules of society in each situation and act accordingly. However, we are most definitely the same person underneath our masks. To define our brands we must remove these masks and discover our core values.
When building your brand it is extremely important to keep honesty in mind — it will simplify and speed up the process. Outlining a true, core version of yourself (and your brainchild ; product/service), will play a crucially important role in the next step.
TIP: As a business owner, work to develop your own personal brand.
The aforementioned section alluded to the importance of being honest — Identifying your target market is largely determined by your brand. By answering more honestly, you have the best chances of finding the right target audience.
Since your reputation is largely based upon audience perception, you will need to construct a target member profile. This clear understanding of your consumer base will help you determine how to best connect with them — social media platforms, age, interests, peak hours on television, internet, mobile, etc.
Remember, it’s your job to find your audience, not the other way around — make it as easy as possible for them. You want your audience to jump for joy when they’ve finally found you because you can relate to their problem/dilemma and provide a proper solution.
By this stage you’ve defined who you are as a brand. Additionally, you’ve etched out your target audience profile. Now you must decide which technical skills you would like to highlight and market.
Will you take the route of highlighting your company in a positive light based on your own organizational structure, attributes, and connections? Or will you choose to define your perception by using negative space ?– highlighting the market void, competitor blunders, and/or outdated industry practices.
As an industry veteran with over 15 years experience, TA’s Jason Ramsey has built a brand highlighting agency features in both a positive and negative space. For example,
As an agile, boutique branding firm we are able to produce a quick turn-around on projects while offering responsive communication, both internally and externally.
These are attributes highlighted in the positive space.
Continuing with our example,
We mix old-school business principles with new school technologies to create timeless brands and lasting relationships.
The latter highlights an attribute in negative space by drawing attention to ‘old-school business principles’ which have fallen out of vogue in the business world — TA seeks to fill a void in the marketing world with better business practices and stellar creative output. This step feeds directly into the next step of developing brand equity.
Ask yourself this very important question, What makes you different and why should people care?
By this stage, you should be absolutely clear and resolute in determining your USP — defining your brand , who is your target audience, and highlighting strengths. After each phase, you will have funneled down a sizable audience to a fraction of its former self. The key to retaining a larger portion of your audience and ultimately converting them will be based on this last factor — why are you different?
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘ there’s nothing new under the sun’. As we get older, we begin to witness the validity of this statement. We are no longer fooled by smoke and mirrors, our imaginative powers dwindle, and we’ve become all too accustomed to gimmicks. Practicality wins over the most informed and loyal clientele.
One thing is for certain in regards to your target audience — they will become older and (hopefully) wiser. Your brand will always thrive on a younger, fresher consumer base, but will gain its reputation from older, consistent, loyal customers. Best case scenario, your target audience will begin with you in one phase and evolve through to the next. Whatever the case may be, shoot em’ straight.
We’re all different, but building (personal) brand equity is largely dependent on how honest you can be with yourself. The honest truth is far more relatable and quite uncommon. That being said, determining why your brand is different relies on you — if you don’t believe it, why should your audience?
When you are able to cover each of these areas, you will be ready to make a brand position statement.
Personal Brand Position statement consists of the four key elements previously mentioned,
Define personal attributes of how you want your brand perceived
Identify a target market
Select the technical skills you wish to highlight
Show what makes you different.
…But we’ll save this for another post.
“View your personal brand as a trademark; an asset that you must protect while continuously molding and shaping it. Your personal brand is an asset that must be managed with the intention of helping others benefit from having a relationship with you and / or by being associated with your work and the industry you serve.” – Glenn Llopis, Forbes
Don’t allow your brand to get stuck in arrested development. Keep a thumb on the pulse of reality and learn to discern between what will be a short lived trend and what will become an industry standard. For example, few magazine publishers in the mid 90’s decided to invest time into developing visibility on the web. As a result, they have been able to outlast many of their competitors not just due to their content and collateral, but through their equity. These brands are viewed as having foresight and seen as living, breathing media/corporate entities.