A practical model for developing international brands
You want to build your brand’s equity. But a quick survey of the models for doing so reveal a plethora of options. I’ve found most of these models are either too complex for practical use or are more retrospective tools rather than forward planning tools.
We have developed a consumer-based brand equity model that, by comparison, is easy to understand and use for planning and assessing marketing activities.
This model is not based on financial valuation or product attributes. It’s based on the conditions that must be satisfied to increase the probability of future purchases by a defined group of consumers.
From Consumer Inertia to Brand Advocacy
The model is a staircase of ten steps from consumer inertia to brand advocacy. Each step is half the height of the one that preceded it. In other words, it gets easier as you move up. But each step is is entirely dependent on the step before it to be achieved. For instance, if you don’t have awareness you cannot have understanding.
The presence of a relevant want or need (either latent or expressed) among a defined market segment, but no movement towards the desired state of brand advocacy. I.E. “I want my little Jimmy to draw, but my problem is that he scribbles all over the walls.”
I see you. I.E. “I read about your new product on a mommy blog”
I understand what you offer in relation to my needs and my product categories. I.E. “You sell crayons for kids, like my little Jimmy, to draw with.”
Your offer is relevant, believable and different from other options that are available to me. I.E. “Your crayons are water soluble so they wash off easy, especially walls”.
I trust you enough to give you the benefit of the doubt. I.E. “But will the crayons still be fun to draw with? Wait, you’re Crayola, I’ve know you all my life. You know about kids and crayons.”
I’ll try your product. I.E. “They cost about the same as normal crayons, I’m going to buy a pack for little Jimmy.”
I believe you. I.E. “Wow, they really work as promised!”
You reflect the beliefs, values and convictions that I stand for. I.E. “You really get me. We have a lot in common.”
I want to stay with you. I.E. “From now on, these are the crayons for me.”
I want to let others know about you. I.E. “I’m posting little Jimmy’s drawings on your gallery site and sharing them with my friends on Twitter and Facebook.”
A consumer-centric definition of brand equity
With this model, brand equity is defined as the degree to which a brand has achieved consumer awareness, understanding, interest, trust, trial, belief, affinity, loyalty and advocacy among a defined target group.
The staircase is intended to illustrate the nine ways that consumers create brand equity for companies over time as they transition from inertia to advocacy. The activity of “branding” is simply to facilitate the consumer's ascent while maximizing the effectiveness of each step along the way.
All marketing activities should directly contribute to one of these steps (consumer awareness, consumer understanding, consumer interest, etc...) in a manner that will not hinder progress further up the staircase.
This model may not conform to everyone’s definition of brand equity. But until a unified definition exists, we have found these steps provide a structured approach to building international brands in a measurable, defendable and profitable manner. If you have a model you find useful please share!