One weapon against inflation and recession in marketers’ toolboxes that is often overlooked is the brand’s own equity. Brand equity is simply the combination of brand awareness (how many people know of the brand) and brand associations (what do people associate with my offering), the sum of which is often described as the brand’s image.
Differentiating Brand Associations
In fact, a brand is nothing more than the sum of the associations consumers have with a specific offering. Those associations are formed through the consumer’s personal experiences, through what others say about the brand, and through communication.
A brand has a strong equity if these associations are specific: If I say “15 minutes can save you 15%” you say…
Unfortunately, in many categories, the differentiation between brands is minimal. And those brands with weak or undifferentiated associations will be the first to suffer when times get tough.
In fact, research firm Quantar analyzed 40,000 brands and found a strong relationship between increasing relative uniqueness and a consumer’s willingness to pay more for a brand: “More than boosting trial and share, achieving a differentiated brand position can lower customer price sensitivity, yield healthy margins and increase profitability.”
As a marketer you should therefore ask yourself, is my brand differentiated enough through strong and unique associations, are those associations relevant to consumers in their decision-making process -- and are those associations strong enough to justify a price premium and potentially a price increase? If the answer to those questions is no, it might be time to reposition your brand.
Distinctive Brand Assets
Some of a brand’s associations are the so-called brand assets, the logo or brand mark, the primary colors, the shape, a character or spokesperson, a jingle -- everything that makes your brand distinctive.
For example, if I show you or mention yellow arches, you’ll know immediately what company I'm referencing.
Brand assets or properties are a brand’s secret weapon typically underused by most brand stewards. That's either because they haven’t taken the time to create and build these assets (they are not distinctive enough) or -- more often the case -- they aren’t systematically communicating those assets in an engaging way and across all the brand’s touchpoints.
Another study by Quantar showed that brands with strong brand assets are 57% more likely to be recalled at the moment of purchase than brands without strong brand assets. This mental availability can be the difference between picking your brand at POS versus picking the brand right next to it.
It is always hard to predict what will happen in an upcoming recession or during an inflation period. Brand stewards will have to monitor closely the sentiments and behaviors of their core consumers and adapt accordingly.
But they can also ensure the maximum efficacy of the brands they manage by ensuring that they are creating relevant and differentiating brand associations to mitigate price sensitivity and that they leverage their brand assets across touchpoints to promote brand salience.