I have been preaching about the five drivers of customer brand insistence since we first developed and tested this brand equity measurement system in the late 1990s. Since then, we have tested this system with hundreds of brands across almost as many product and service categories. It indicates that five things drive customers from being aware of a brand to insisting upon the brand and then ultimately being loyal to and even being advocates of the brand.
Again, these are the five drivers:
The first driver is awareness. If you offer the best product in its category backed by the best service offered at the lowest price delivering the best value, and no one has heard of it, you will not achieve any sales. Awareness is the cornerstone of any marketing campaign. Awareness not only puts a brand in a purchase consideration set, it also increases customer preference, quality perceptions and purchase intent. Strong marketing campaigns with both reach and frequency increase awareness as does broader distribution. And PR and proactive publicity, including publicity stunts, can significantly increase brand awareness.
The difference between a commodity and a brand is not a name or a logo - it is relevant differentiation, or put another way, a unique value proposition. Give customers a reason to choose your brand over other brands in its product category. The best differentiators are shared values, self-expressive benefits ("brand as a badge"), extraordinary product purchase or usage experiences, superior customer insight that leads to anticipating and addressing latent needs, easy one-stop shopping and offering a superior value based on the perceived benefits received for the amount of time and money required to receive those benefits. Once the relevant differentiation is created, then the marketer needs to make the relevant differentiation very clear at each and every point of customer contact. Focusing on just one differentiating benefit increases a customer's ability to recall that benefit so choose the brand's differentiating benefit wisely. Here is a post on how to position your brand in overcrowded markets. And here is a post on branding in highly competitive categories.
I already touched on this. For most people, the two scarce resources are time and money. Give them more time and more money while solving their problems or meeting their needs and you have delivered a good or perhaps even excellent value.
All things being equal, the more accessible brand will get the sale every time. Wider distribution not only increases brand awareness, it also increases brand accessibility. 24/7 brand access is better than more limited access. Accepting multiple payment methods and one-click shopping also increases accessibility. There is also a psychological aspect to accessibility. Do people believe your brand to be accessible, or for one reason or another, do they feel that your brand is less accessible to them?
Brand personality, brand voice, brand visual style, brand trustworthiness (which includes brand consistency and reliability), brand responsiveness, outstanding customer service and technical support (with includes front-line employee training and empowerment), loyalty programs and purchase and usage frequency can all lead to increased emotional connection. Well thought-out marketing campaigns with highly emotional elements can also add to this. Here are two posts on the related concept of brand tribalism - Tribal Branding, Brands & Tribalism.
I am going to add one other thing to this list. Powerful brand MEMORY TRIGGERS that are consistently used over time and across campaigns will increase the ability of customers to remember the brand and associate it with its most powerful benefits to them. These triggers may include distinctive colors, shapes, icons, sounds, scents and other mnemonic devices. And they might be incorporated into the product itself, its packaging, its merchandising, its signing, its marketing campaigns, its insignia merchandise or other communication vehicles. Often, key elements of a brand's identity system are its primary memory triggers. Here is a related post on brands and memory structures.
So, to create a winning brand, focus on awareness, relevant differentiation, value, accessibility, emotional connection and memory triggers.