I have conducted brand equity studies for hundreds of brands over the past twenty years. In doing so, I have identified some patterns that tend to occur throughout the studies, patterns that it would be helpful for brand managers to understand. Here are some of the insights from those studies:
- Brands often have lower unaided awareness than their managers expected.
- There typically are far more competitors than those that the brand manager considers to be in the competitive set.
- Competitors often come from outside of the organization-stipulated product or service category.
- Defining the competitive frame of reference properly makes a huge difference in positioning and managing the brand to its greatest advantage.
- Often, the brand manager gets the competitive frame of reference wrong compared to customer perceptions.
- For most brands, the brand associations vary widely between customers, indicating that the brand's intended unique value proposition is not consistently experienced.
- Nowadays, most brands (including competitive brands) deliver well against the most important category benefits.
- Often, competitive brands look more alike than they do different to customers.
- Most brands lack relevant differentiation.
- Sometimes, a brand's personality attribute is its greatest differentiator.
- Emotional benefits are always more powerful than functional benefits.
- People downplay the importance of the brand itself. They are more focused on what the delivers to them.
- I can easily tell the following from brand equity studies: (1) whether the brand is based on deep customer insight, (2) whether the brand is well managed, (3) whether the category is nascent or mature, and (4) whether there are problems with pricing, distribution, product features, package design, brand messaging, marketing spend, continuous innovation or something else.
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