Building a Brand Equity
Inspiration is essential in the design industry. It’s what we look for to kick-start a project, to provide direction in the creative process or even identify a route that has yet to be explored. Inspiration doesn’t necessarily have to be related specifically to what is being designed; when designing an elegant range of cutlery, one can gain just as much inspiration (arguably more) by looking at stunning piece of architecture of beautifully crafted sculpture as one might from looking in a housewares store. The problem comes when one fails to acknowledge designs that have come before and end up replicating something that’s already been done… or something that shouldn’t be done at all!
From time to time, we have clients come to us with ideas for their brand that are completely inappropriate for their market. They believe that simply by emulating what other brands have done will gain them the leverage that they are looking for regardless of the size of business, size of their marketing spend or customer profile. “Why won’t these techniques work?” I hear you ask. Two words: Brand Equity.
Brand equity is effectively the personality of your company. It’s the goals, beliefs, experiences and qualities upon which your business is founded and should inspire every move your company makes, from the products you develop to companies you merge with to how you brand yourselves. There is no right or wrong brand equity - there is only a question of what is right for your brand. Are you staying true to it or are you running the risk of being thought of as a fraud by your audiences?
Brand equity comprises of several different elements: brand awareness, associations, loyalty, perceived quality and proprietary assets are all features that work together to determine the success of your equity. If your brand awareness is high because it’s been in the news for negative reasons, it’s not going to be as successful as if it were associated with something positive. If you benefit from a high degree of loyalty to your product or service, but underestimate its value this too can have a negative impact on your business. Finally, if you’ve got an extensive range of proprietary assets e.g. a patent, it will be wasted without a strong brand to take it forward.
Identifying what comprises your brand equity is not a quick process, nor is it one that should be forced. It will come as a result of the choices you make as a business and will develop throughout that business’ lifetime. Taking inspiration from existing brands is never a bad way to go - if it’s worked, it’s worked for a reason - but then it’s about taking what has worked and fitting it effectively to your brand equity. Take time to invest in it. Consider the role the design plays for you and remain proactive in developing it. If you can do this, you will eventually find yourself reaping the lucrative rewards of your brand equity.