Nike. Apple. Coca-Cola.
They’re three of the biggest and most easily recognizable brands in the world. Their products are high quality. Their consumer base is loyal. But they didn’t get to the top of the heap by sheer luck. They got there with the help of a secret sauce called brand equity, and brand equity is what continues to give them (and thousands of brands like them) staying power.
What is brand equity?
Brand equity describes the perceived worth of a brand. It’s a combination of what customers think of a brand, what their experiences with that brand have been like, and the value of that brand’s products. Brands with positive equity (here we mean stable and growing equity) have quality products with easily recognizable names and consistent messaging in their marketing.
For example, when you’re in the grocery store, positive brand equity is what drives you to purchase products like Band-Aids or Heinz Ketchup over other generic brands that might be just as good or even better. You know their names, you know they’re good products, and it’s incentive enough to buy their product over the other guy’s. That’s what we mean by brand equity.
Why positive brand equity matters
Brand equity holds a lot of weight for consumers, and consequently, it’s really important for your brand to maintain it. Josh Mendenhall, Pattern’s VP of Creative, says positive brand equity gives your brand authenticity, and it also builds customer awareness, trust, and loyalty.
Authenticity. Positive brand equity shows customers that your brand knows itself, it’s true to itself, and it’s true to its customers. This is what attracts the right demographics to your brand.
Awareness. Good equity makes brands more accessible and recognizable to consumers. Brands like Apple have dialed in their product quality, marketing, and messaging so well that even if consumers haven’t purchased their products, they know about them.
Trust & loyalty. Consumers can trust the product they’re looking at will be the product they get when it comes from a brand with positive equity. They can also trust their product isn’t coming from a counterfeit seller.
When customers trust a brand, their loyalty follows. Nike and Apple are both great examples of this: look at the buzz that surrounds Apple product launches or Nike sneaker releases. Apple and Nike customers will line up around the block for a chance to try a new product because they trust their brand will deliver, and Apple and Nike can add to their product range with confidence knowing their customers will buy whatever they sell.
Good brand equity allows companies like Nike and Apple to try new things and charge more for their products. It can also boost their stock price.
How do you build brand equity?
To build brand equity, you need to build customer awareness and trust. One of the most important ways to raise awareness and trust is to make sure your visual content and your messaging are consistent from top to bottom across all channels.
Your brand voice, illustration style, iconography, graphics, logo, typography, colors, models, and photography should be consistent whether a customer’s looking at your social media, your D2C, your ads, or marketplaces like Amazon. This is what makes your brand recognizable.
If you’re using different designs on your channels or trying out different voices, it damages customer trust and renders your brand indistinguishable. Your brand should tell one story, not three different stories, and have a personality all its own.
“Once you’ve locked in on a brand, like how your brand communicates visually, stick with it,” Mendenhall said, “because that’s how people start to know who the brand is.”
Consistency is especially important on marketplaces like Amazon, where customers buy because they know a seller can be trusted. According to Mendenhall, most brands who come to Pattern for help have Amazon listings that look really different from the marketing collateral they produce themselves. That shouldn’t be the case.
Creating style guides is an important step to maintain consistency. These ensure your messaging and content stay true to your brand. Style guides can cover things like your editorial voice, how your logo can be used, what fonts can be used, and more.
Content is only one piece of the pie when it comes to building brand equity.
“Someone said that content is king,” Mendenhall said, “but getting out there—the distribution part of that content—is queen, and the queen wears the pants.”
Companies like Nike, which have an easily recognizable brand as well as high quality product, still need to get that product in front of customer eyes to make a sale.
“Getting it out there in the world, distributing it, that’s really where brand equity gets a lot of value; how many people have seen it, and now not only seen it, but it’s consistent enough that it’s recognizable,” Mendenhall said.
Brands get into the right spaces by investing in focused advertising that meets the customer where they’re at, using good SEO practices to make their products pop up in search results, and then, once the sale is made, providing a stellar customer service experience that customers remember.
Brands doing it right
We’ve mentioned Apple a lot, and that’s because they’re so good at what they do. Aside from a loyal fanbase, Apple has a clean, minimalist look and voice that’s instantly recognizable in their packaging and their marketing. Consumers know Apple.
Another brand killing it in this space is Target. Target’s bullseye logo is so recognizable they only need to pop a bullseye on an ad or a storefront for customers to identify it. Talk about brand awareness.
Pattern example: Popular jewelry brand
One brand Pattern has helped maintain brand consistency across channels is a popular jewelry brand. Consistency is especially important for this brand, because it’s easy for counterfeit sellers to eat their profits.
“When someone sees this brand’s bracelet on a marketplace, it should be recognizable,” Mendenhall said. “It makes it feel like it’s actually coming from the seller or from the manufacturer versus someone who just has a bunch of these products and is trying to hawk them on a different marketplace.”
To make sure the jewelry brand’s products are recognizable, Pattern pulled their branding through all their channels.
“They use a certain type of model, they use certain types of typefaces and colors, the clothing that they wear . . . all of these things are based on the jewelry brand. So when we’re producing content for them, we want it to feel like the brand. We don’t want it to feel like Pattern. We don’t want it to feel like Amazon. We don’t want it to feel like Walmart. We want it to feel like them,” Mendenhall said.
One small way they’ve done this is to make sure the sizing charts in the jewelry brand’s image stack look different than the sizing charts on Amazon so customers know they’re working with the brand directly.
“If we’re going to show a representation of size, we’re going to show it how they show it on their website or how they show it in their catalogue,” Mendenhall said.
Pattern example: PopSockets
Another brand Pattern has worked with is PopSockets, which makes removable grips for smartphones.
“With PopSockets we wanted it to feel just like PopSockets. We used their same types of models. It’s sort of a quirky style, but we use it because we want somebody to know when they’re buying this it’s an actual PopSockets; it’s not counterfeit,” Mendenhall said.
When you look at PopSockets’ branding on Amazon and their website, you’ll note that they both incorporate fun flat lays featuring PopSockets in use as well as PopSockets’ logo and branding. It’s easy to tell you’re looking at the same products.
At Pattern, we work closely with brands’ creative and marketing teams to understand their brand and help them preserve their brand’s equity with consistency and quality creative content. To learn more or ask for a demo of what Pattern creative could look like for your brand, contact us below.