Brand equity can lift a business above its competitors. Even if your products are more expensive than your rivals, good brand equity can draw customers to your business in their droves.
In short, brand equity is vital for your company to thrive in your niche.
Here, we look at what brand equity is, why it matters, and how you can build it through smart social media.
What is brand equity and why is it important?
Brand equity refers to the value and influence a brand name has in the minds of its customers.
Brand equity can be broken down into three elements:
- Brand perception
- Positive or negative effects
- Resulting value
There are plenty of examples of brands with big equity—take Coke, for instance.
Coca-Cola is perhaps one of the most recognisable brands in the world. 94% of the world’s population recognises its iconic logo, and it’s even been said that the brand name is the second-most globally understood word in the world (the first is “okay”). Clearly, Coca-Cola is a brand with significant equity.
This universality/ubiquity of the brand is indicative of its high brand equity. But what value does brand equity bring to a business?
For starters, high brand equity means a business can charge more for its product. Customers are willing to pay a higher price for a product, despite more affordable and similar competitor products. Coca-Cola has countless cheaper alternatives. You can get a can of generic cola from your local corner shop that generally tastes similar to the iconic brand’s offering—claims from Coke zealots notwithstanding. But for the most part, people much prefer to opt for the more expensive but recognisable branded product.
In the same vein, consumers are more likely to buy a product from a brand with high equity. Perceived value can far outweigh the actual value of a product, increasing sales as a result.
Take Apple, as another example. Its iPhones become slower and run out of battery quicker with every new update, a deliberate tactic designed to encourage consumers to upgrade to their latest model.
And yet, despite more affordable (and, arguably, more reliable) smartphones from competitor brands, Apple purists still gather in their droves for the latest product drop from the brand — the value of brand equity at work.
Finally, strong brand equity boosts customer retention. Once a customer is locked into a brand with high equity, that perceived value eclipses that of potential competitors. In short: for your customers, if your brand equity is high, the grass isn’t necessarily greener.
How to build brand equity through social
You know the what and the why of brand equity. But how can you build it for your brand without the massive ad budgets and professional creative team of Coca-Cola or Apple?
The answer lies in social media.
The advent of social media has levelled the playing field for building brand equity. Affordable, scalable, and far-reaching, it provides an accessible means for brands to listen to and interact with their customers.
Indeed, it’s partly why the likes of indie sandwich shops in London and pizza parlours in Manchester have started selling their own merch—social gives even the smallest of brands the chance to build equity, even if it’s just in the local area.
So, how is it done? Here are a few simple tips to get you started.
Deliver stellar customer service that is human and relatable
Positive interactions between a brand and its customers can be a powerful method of building brand equity. Indeed, good customer service on social has, arguably, become a form of marketing in itself.
On social, customer service doesn’t just impact the customer in question either. Due to the public nature of social, other customers (or, indeed, potential customers) see it too, shaping their perception of your brand.
Consequently, it’s important to adopt a responsive and human approach to your customer support on social. While other elements of your customer support strategy can be automated, your social channels should be human-led wherever possible.
Reply to customer complaints and queries quickly—no less than 24 hours for each query. Make this process more efficient by having a member of your customer service team respond via social before directing them to an automated process via your DMs or website.
Ditch the business jargon for human, personable language. Rigid, repetitive talk is a real turn-off for customers, so respond in a natural, conversational way. It’s a simple element, but one that increases your value as a brand as a result.
Emphasise a positive brand culture
Your company culture plays a pivotal role in your brand equity.
Consumers are keenly aware of how their favoured brands operate behind the scenes. With social media, company culture is never hermetic, and how you work as a business will seep out—and it matters. Even if a business portrays a positive, caring face to the world, if their actual business culture is toxic or unfair, customers will know about it and make purchasing decisions accordingly.
So if a brand’s culture reflects its positive, friendly persona, it counts.
To that end, take steps to celebrate your employees on social. A “staff spotlight” on a particular member of your team who has performed well that month depicts you as a brand with heart, valuing employees and customers alike.
Similarly, highlighting your corporate social responsibility (CSR) on social also achieves this. If you have a dedicated charity initiative within your company, shout about it on social—use Stories, photos, videos, blogs, and so on to highlight the work you do as a brand beyond your commercial side.
Brand equity comes from within, and a positive company culture celebrated on social will do wonders to build yours.
Present a human face on social
Humanity and personality go a long way toward building brand equity.
Your social channels will likely be the most frequent point of interaction between you and your customers. Use them to present a human face to your customers that strengthens your brand equity.
Your tone plays a pivotal role here. Write as a person, rather than a faceless brand. This means using informal language (to a degree) that feels natural to your audience.
Just as colloquial language and an amiable tone puts people at ease and therefore builds a rapport in normal conversation, so too does it help strengthen the connection between brand and customer, increasing the perceived value of your brand as a result.
Beyond this, the content you share also plays a role. As well as company news and product updates, share content that displays the more personal elements of your brand. Polls, surveys, and general questions are one example—invite your social audience to share their thoughts and cascade them across your Instagram Stories, for instance.
While you shouldn’t overdo it on the fun, informal content, don’t shy away from it either. It adds a relatable, human element that strengthens your brand equity significantly.
Brand equity isn’t built overnight. But social media can help significantly when it comes to building yours. Bear the tips above in mind as part of your brand equity strategy, and start building a brand that appeals to the core of your consumers.