MindFire Communications, Inc.
Brand equity is more important than ever
June 29, 2009 | Lynn Manternach, Ph.D.

The shaky economy has prompted consumers to make some tough purchasing decisions. But when it comes to brands consumers are loyal to, those decisions are pretty straightforward.

According to the latest study of consumer brands with the most brand equity, trusted brands are holding steady in spite of the economic turmoil. That doesn’t mean consumers aren’t cutting back on their spending. It just means when it comes to the brands they are most loyal to, there’s no room for compromise.

The Harris Interactive EquiTrend study measures 1,000 brands across 39 categories on parameters like brand familiarity, quality and purchase consideration. The study also includes a measure on the value consumers feel they receive from a brand for the money they pay.

In this year’s study, food brands – particularly comfort foods – dominate the top of the list.

Top 10 Brands

  1. M&M’s Plain Chocolate Candy (79.54)
  2. Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate Candy (79.45)
  3. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (78.30)
  4. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Chocolate Candy (78.14)
  5. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Candy Bars (78.06)
  6. Kleenex Facial Tissues (77.47)
  7.  Campbell’s Soups (77.35)
  8. Google (76.70)
  9. M&M’s Peanut Chocolate Candy (76.61)
  10. Crayola Crayons (76.61)
Source: Harris Interactive 2009 EquiTrend© study

The brands at the top of the list have built strong brand equity by creating expectations for a positive experience with their brands, and they have consistently delivered on their brand promise.

Brand equity is an intangible asset that depends on associations made by the consumer. It’s built on a consumer’s experiences with a product, and it’s tightly connected to brand loyalty.

From a corporate perspective, building brand equity requires a serious commitment. To be successful, brand building has to be a philosophy that permeates the entire organization. It’s a long process that requires a clear brand promise and a consumer experience that matches that promise at every step. There’s no room for inconsistency.

Brand equity starts with a positive brand interaction. Multiple positive brand interactions eventually lead to brand consistency. If you can consistently deliver on your brand promise, you have to opportunity to earn brand credibility. Brand credibility leads to brand authenticity. Authentic brands are well-positioned to earn a consumer’s trust, and eventually – the holy grail – brand loyalty.

When you reach the level of brand loyalty, your brand has equity. It means that a consumer, when faced with multiple brand options in your category, will remain loyal to your brand regardless of price.

Some companies are trying to cash in on the current economic situation by slashing their prices. To make that work, they’re also cutting quality. In the long term, that’s a brand equity killer. It leads to negative brand interactions and inconsistency. That inconsistency usually means the brand is no longer delivering on the brand promise. That leads to distrust and eventually, to disloyalty.

As you’re making tough decisions about how to survive and thrive in this challenging economy, keep your brand promise and customer experience at the forefront. If you can find ways to make sure your customer consistently has an experience that is in line with your brand promise, you will be well-positioned for the future.

This article originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal.

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