How to build brand awareness and loyalty?

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You can have a great idea, the money to implement that idea and the people to help you bring it to life, but without a brand you have nothing.

Branding is the foundation of any business and the ultimate key to success. Easy said, it is the ability to create clear areas of differentiation that differentiate your products or services from competing ones. At its core, a brand helps bring a business to life, regardless of industry or category, and there are a number of elements that come together to create a good business. It is very similar to a person in that it has unique and defining characteristics that position it for a desired target market. It also helps to size and add character to a company that appeals to that market.

Take Oreo cookies, for example. Rather than marketing itself as a cream sandwich cookie maker, the company is taking its product to the next level. The slogan “Twist, lick, dunk” was marketed as the right way to enjoy it, turning eating a cookie into a full snacking experience. The resulting brand strength helped separate Oreo from other cookies—low character and sympathy that appealed directly to its target market, keeping it consistently successful for more than 110 years. Without the brand behind it, Oreo would just be another snack label.

Branding is also broad and complex: it takes many components to build one, even before promotion and advertising, including the following questions: How do you know Who you advertise to, how do you know? what you advertise, and how do you know when it’s time for a rebrand and repositioning?

Related: 3 examples of how to build a strong brand community

What is brand equity?

A fundamental element of branding is brand equity – the total value of a brand based on associations and expectations. That justice is determined by brand awareness, loyalty, perceived quality and factual associations.

Brand awareness is of course crucial and falls into two categories: recognition and memory. The former refers to remembering previous exposure (e.g. hearing a jingle and immediately recognizing the company it belongs to), while the latter is more about what product comes to mind when a category is discussed (e.g. a brand you when you think of insurance or toilet paper). This can be different for each person based on where he or she lives, as well as their habits, etc.

Which is more important, recognition or memory? The answer is actually neither; it totally depends on each company and its goals.

Brand Loyalty measures how loyal a consumer is to a brand. There are some consumers who simply don’t want to buy a particular brand, while others may compare two and not commit to either one. Still, others can reliably opt for the lowest priced product, and there are also those who buy out of habit for no specific reason. Finally, there are dedicated, loyal consumers who will always turn to your product. There are proven ways to increase this critical loyalty, such as frequent buyer programs and incentives (isn’t it interesting how some people only fly with one airline – captivated by the loyalty miles they earn?).

Related: 5 Ways to Build Highly Valuable Brand Loyalty

• In the mind of a consumer, perceived quality is the value they associate with a brand, no matter how good or bad it is. In the end, perception is everything. By distinguishing themselves from competitors, brands do what it takes to be different — to demonstrate that they are better — and specialization and/or exclusivity can lead to higher perceived quality. Tactics such as influencer marketing can also positively impact perceived quality. It comes down to how the consumer sees the brand and its overall image.

• The final component of brand equity is: real associations† This can be anything a consumer can associate with it – be it a spokesperson, a logo, a specific color, or even a slogan – anything that prompts the consumer to think of a particular company.

By knowing all of these elements, a company can begin to evaluate its position in a product category and its distinctiveness. Being able to understand one’s own worth can also help to understand what the target market is and how to successfully advertise on it.

Related: ‘Brand Equity’ is an intangible object worth real money

Being able to evaluate a company’s brand equity is the beginning of the journey to build that brand. Understanding this equity can help generate insights that can be helpful in narrowing a target market, as well as determining how a brand is lacking and the need for growth or repositioning.

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