The American Marketing Association states “a brand as a name, feature, symbol or design that is meant to identify the goods and services of an organization and distinguishes them from those of competitors or other organizations” (Kotler and Keller, 2009). However, it can further be said that identifying and differentiating of a product or service only makes sense when the brand offers value.
Brand Equity is the added value attached on goods and services. It may be reflected in the awareness, familiarity and unique association with respect to the brand, as well as in the prices, market share, and profitability the brand commands for the organization.
When we talk about building a strong brand, it is inevitable to mention the concept of Keller’s brand Equity model. The strength of a brand depends on what the consumer has seen, perceived, learnt and felt of a brand over time. To build a strong brand, you must be able to mold how customers think and feel about your product or service. The Brand Pyramid is a valuable tool and background that can help you understand brand associations. It provides a framework by which organizations can evaluate their progress in their branding efforts.
The Brand Equity Pyramid model looks at brand building as a sequence of four steps as developed by Keller and published in his book, Strategic Brand Management which are answers to four basic questions;
• Who are you? (Brand Identity) (Keller, 2003)
• What are you? (Brand Meaning) (Keller, 2003)
• What do I feel or think about you? (Brand Responses) (Keller, 2003)
• What type and extent of association I would like to have with you? (Brand Relationships) (Keller, 2003)
Each of the step is dependent on achieving the objectives of the previous one that is, brand meaning cannot be established unless there is ease of recognition and recall; brand responses cannot occur unless the expectations have been met and surpassed and a brand relationship cannot be formed unless there has been a provoking of the appropriate brand responses. According to Keller (2003), using the four steps means establishing a pyramid of six brand building blocks with customers as illustrated in Figure 1. The model highlights the duality of brands- the rational route on the left-hand side and the emotional route on the right-hand side.
Figure 1: Brand Equity Pyramid (www.tutorialspoint.com, 2017)
For illustrative purposes, BMW and McDonalds brands will be considered.
Step 1: Brand Identity-Who are you?
The goal is to create brand awareness. Salience is the building block in this step. It is about how often and how easily customers think about the brand. In application, one needs to know their customers, know their Unique selling proposition (USP) and understand if your customers perceive the brand as you want them to. To illustrate this;
Brand salience (Keller,2003). “German marvel, best in the class, excellent finish.” (UKEssays, 2013)
Tagline- “The ultimate driving machine”. (BMW).
Famous fast food, Affordable, quick meal. Tagline- “I’m Lovin’ it!”. (McDonalds).
Step 2: Brand Meaning- What are you?
The goal is to understand, know and portray what the brand represents. Performance and Imagery are the two building blocks in this step. Brand meaning arises out of associations which can be function-related or imagery-related. In application, the needs and expectations of customers are meet and ideally surpassed. To illustrate these attributes, see table below:
(Keller, 2003). “Good second-hand value, outstanding road performance” (UKEssays, 2013) Multiple services (drive thru, free wi-fi, Automatic order machine, flexible working hours, price
(Keller, 2003). “Historic and model image. associated with racing events.” (UKEssays, 2013) Come as you are, Number 1 fast food, Convenient, efficient, fun
Step 3: Brand Response- What do I think, or feel, about you?
The goal is to create a sense of significance in the customer’s mind. Judgements and Feelings are two building blocks in this step. It is about the behavior and reaction of the customer to the brand which could be either be the opinion or evaluation of the brand and the emotional reactions to the brand. In application, there is a need to know how one’s product or service are judged by the customer based on quality, reliability, reflection and class. Also, the response of customers according to how the brand makes them feel. “There are six positive brand feelings: warmth, fun, safe, pleasure, social approval, and self-respect”. (Mindtools.com, 2018). It is critical to consider what can be done to improve and boost these key feelings. To illustrate these attributes, see table below:
(Keller, 2003). “State of the art technology and superiority: world class cars, innovation and design, clever design, simple to operate.” (UKEssays, 2013) Good quality/price-ratio, market leader, good consideration, high market share
(Keller, 2003). “Social consent and self-esteem, environment concern.” (UKEssays, 2013) Convenient atmosphere, Brand respect.
Step 4: Brand Relationship – How much of a connection would I like to have with you?
The goal is to connect at a deeper level which is the most desirable and difficult level to reach. It denotes the type of the relationship customers have with the brand to the extent to which they feel they are in sync with it. Brand resonance is realized when customers feel a deep, emotional bond with the brand. Keller stated that there are four categories: Behavioral loyalty, attitudinal attachment, sense of community and active engagement. (Mindtools.com, 2018) In application, how can you get customers to regularly repeat purchases, have brand love and ultimately brand admiration. How do they become loyal customers and even evangelists of the brand. To illustrate this;
(Keller, 2003). “Top notch quality and comfort: high loyalty, high repeat purchase” (UKEssays, 2013) Regular and repeat purchase, one of the top 5 fast food company people think about, huge community on social media
In conclusion, the Brand equity pyramid concept is very important and can be used as a toolkit for branding efforts. Achieving substantial brand equity entails reaching the top of the brand pyramid and being able to elicit behavior from customers that is beyond reason.
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Kotler, P. and Keller, K. (2009). Marketing management. 13th ed. Pearson, pp.278-285.
Keller, K. (2003), Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity, 2nd Ed, Prentice Hall, New Jersey
Mindtools.com. (2017). The Brand Pyramid: Building Customer Loyalty. online Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/brand-pyramid.htm Accessed 5 Dec. 2017.
Mindtools.com. (2018). Keller’s Brand Equity Model: Building a Powerful Brand. online Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/keller-brand-equity-model.htm Accessed 10 Apr. 2018.
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slideshare.net. (2014). BMW Brand Health Check. online Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/AnandIssac/bmw-brand-health-check Accessed 10 Apr. 2018.
UKEssays. (2013). The Customer Based Brand Equity Pyramid. online Available at: https://www.ukessays.com/essays/marketing/the-customer-based-brand-equity-pyramid-marketing-essay.php?vref=1 Accessed 10 April 2018.
www.tutorialspoint.com. (2017). Brand Management Quick Guide. online Available at: http://www.tutorialspoint.com/brand_management/brand_management_quick_guide.htm Accessed 5 Dec. 2017.