According to the definition of customer-based brand equity in the previous article on Measuring Customer-Based Brand Equity, no single number or measure captures brand equity. Rather, brand equity should be thought of as a multidimensional concept that depends on (1) what knowledge structures are present in the minds of consumers and (2) what actions a firm can take to capitalise on the potential offered by these knowledge structures. Different firms may be more or less able to maximise the potential value of brand according to the type and nature of marketing activities that they are able to undertake.
Six general guidelines may help marketers better manage brand equity.
First, marketers should adopt a broad view of marketing decisions. Marketing activity for a brand potentially can create value for the brand by improving consumers’ ability to recall or recognise the brand and/ or by creating, maintaining, or changing the favourability, strength, or uniqueness of various types of brand associations. By influencing brand knowledge in one or more of these different ways, marketing activity can potentially affect sales.
Second, marketers should define the knowledge structures that they would like to create in the minds of consumers – that is, by specifying desired levels of awareness and favourability, strength, and uniqueness of product- and non-product-related attributes; functional, experiential, and symbolic benefits; and overall attitudes. In particular, marketers should decide on the core needs and wants of consumers to be satisfied by the brand. Marketers should also decide the extent to which it is necessary to leverage secondary associations for the brand-that is, link the brand to the company, product class, or particular person, place, or event in such a way that associations with those entities become indirect or “secondary” associations for the brand.
Third, marketers should evaluate the increasingly large number of tactical options available to create these knowledge structures, especially in terms of various marketing communication alternatives. For example, the recent growth of ‘non-traditional” media, and other marketing activity is appropriate from the perspective of customer-based brand equity.
The manner in which a brand association is created does not matter. Only the resulting favourability, strength, and uniqueness. Thus, many of these new alternatives can offer a cost-effective means of affecting brand knowledge and thus sales, especially to the extent that they complement traditional marketing tactics.
Regardless of which options are chosen, the entire marketing program should be co-ordinated to create congruent and strong brand associations. Different marketing tactics with the same strategic goals, if effectively integrated, can create multiple links to core benefits or other key associations, helping to produce a consistent and cohesive brand image.
Marketers should judge the consistency and cohesiveness of the brand image with the business definition in mind and how well the specific attributes and benefits that the product is intended to provide to consumers satisfy their core desires (needs and wants).
Fourth, marketers should take a long-term view of marketing decisions. The changes in consumer knowledge about the brand from current marketing activity also will have an indirect effect on the success of future marketing activities. Thus, from the perspective of customer-based brand equity in making marketing decisions, it is important to consider how resulting changes in brand awareness and image may help or hurt subsequent marketing decisions. For example, the use of sales promotions involving temporary price decreases may create or strengthen a “discount” association with the brand, with implications for customer loyalty and responses to future price changes or non-price-oriented marketing communication efforts.
Fifth, marketers should employ tracking studies to measure consumer knowledge structures over time to:
(1) detect any changes in the different dimensions of brand knowledge and
(2) suggest how these changes might be related to the effectiveness of different marketing mix actions.
To the extent that a more precise assessment of customer-based brand equity is useful, marketers should also conduct controlled experiments. Consumer knowledge of competitive brands should be similarly tracked to provide information on their sources of customer-based brand equity. Experiments with consumer response to marketing activity for competitive brands can also provide a useful benchmark-for example, to determine the uniqueness of brand associations.
Finally, marketers should evaluate potential extension candidates for their viability and possible feedback effects on core brand image. Given their potential importance to long-term brand value, brand extension decisions are considered in detail in the rest of this section from the perspective of customer-based brand equity and other relevant research.