Building Customer-Based Brand Equity : What makes a strong brand? How do you build a strong brand?
Building a strong brand is the goal of many organizations. Building a strong brand with significant equity is seen as providing a host of possible benefits, such as greater customer loyalty and less vulnerability to competitive marketing actions or marketing crises; larger margins as well as more favorable customer response to price increases and decreases; greater trade or intermediary cooperation and support; increased marketing communication effectiveness; and licensing and brand extension opportunities.
With this keen interest in brand building, two questions often arise:
1) What makes a brand strong? and
2) How do you build a strong brand?
To help answer both of these questions, this paper develops a model of brand building, called the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model. Although a number of useful perspectives concerning brand equity have been put forth, the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model provides a unique point-of-view as to what brand equity is and how it should best be built, measured, and managed.
The development of the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model was driven by three goals. First, the model had to be logical, well integrated, and grounded. The model needed to reflect state-of-the-art thinking about branding from both an academic and industry point of view. Second, the model had to be versatile and applicable to all possible kinds of brands and industry settings. As more diverse applications of branding emerge for all types of products, services, organizations, people, places, and so on, the model needed to have far-ranging relevance. Third, the model had to be comprehensive and have enough breadth to cover important branding topics, as well as enough depth to provide useful insights and guidelines. The model needed to help marketers set strategic direction and inform their brand-related decisions.
With this broad set of objectives in mind, the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model was developed. The basic premise of the model is that the power of a brand lies in what customers have learned, felt, seen, heard, etc. about the brand as a result of their experiences over time. In other words, the power of a brand is in what resides in the minds of customers. The challenge for marketers in building a strong brand is ensuring that customers have the right type of experiences with products and services and their accompanying marketing programs so that the desired thoughts, feelings, images, beliefs, perceptions, opinions, and so on become linked to the brand. The remainder of the paper outlines in detail how this “brand knowledge” should be created and how the brand-building process should be handled.
THE FOUR STEPS OF BRAND BUILDING
Building a strong brand, according to the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model, can be thought of in terms of a sequential series of steps, where each step is contingent upon successfully achieving the previous step. All steps involve accomplishing certain objectives with customers – both existing and potential customers. The first step is to ensure identification of the brand with customers and an association of the brand in customers’ minds with a specific product class or customer need. The second step is to firmly establish the totality of brand meaning in the minds of customers – i.e., by strategically linking a host of tangible and intangible brand associations. The third step is to elicit the proper customer responses to this brand identity and brand meaning. The fourth and final step is to convert brand response to create an intense, active loyalty relationship between customers and the brand.
These four steps represent a set of fundamental questions that customers invariably ask about brands – at least implicitly if not even explicitly – as follows (with corresponding brand steps in parentheses).
1) Who are you? (Brand Identity)
2) What are you? (Brand Meaning)
3) What about you? What do I think or feel about you? (Brand Responses)
4) What about you and me? What kind of association and how much of a connection would I like to have with you? (Brand Relationships)
There is an obvious ordering of the steps in this “branding ladder,” from identity to meaning to responses to relationships. That is, meaning cannot be established unless identity has been created; responses cannot occur unless the right meaning has been developed; and a relationship cannot be forged unless the proper responses have been elicited.
BRAND BUILDING BLOCKS
Enacting the four steps to create the right brand identity, brand meaning, brand responses, and brand relationship is a complicated and difficult process. To provide some structure, it is useful to think of sequentially establishing six “brand building blocks” with customers. That is, constructing a strong brand can be seen as establishing a logically constructed set of six “building blocks” to accomplish the four steps necessary to create a strong brand. To connote the sequencing involved, these building blocks can be assembled in terms of a brand pyramid. Creating significant brand equity involves reaching the top or pinnacle of the pyramid and will only occur if the right brand building blocks are put into place. The corresponding brand steps represent different levels of the pyramid.
Achieving the right brand identity involves creating brand salience with customers. Brand salience relates to aspects of the awareness of the brand, e.g., how often and easily is the brand evoked under various situations or circumstances. To what extent is the brand top-of-mind and easily recalled or recognized? What types of cues or reminders are necessary? How pervasive is this brand awareness?
Formally, brand awareness refers to the customers’ ability to recall and recognize the brand. Brand awareness is more than just the fact that customers know the brand name and the fact that they have previously seen it, perhaps even many times. Brand awareness also involves linking the brand – the brand name, logo, symbol, etc. – to certain associations in memory. In particular, building brand awareness involves ensuring that customers understand the product or service category in which the brand competes. There must be clear links as to what products or services are sold under the brand name. At a broader, more abstract level, however, it also means making sure that customers know which of their “needs” the brand – through these products – is designed to satisfy. In other words, what basic functions does the brand provide to customers?
Awareness forms the foundation or base building block in developing brand equity and provides three important functions. First, awareness influences the formation and strength of brand associations that make up the brand image and gives the brand meaning. Second, creating a high level of brand awareness in terms of category identification and needs satisfied is of crucial importance during possible purchase or consumption opportunities. Brand awareness influences the likelihood that the brand will be a member of the consideration set, those handful of brands that receive serious consideration for purchase. Brand awareness is also important during possible consumption settings in terms of maximizing potential usage. Third, when customers have “low involvement” with a product category, they may make choices based on brand awareness alone. Low involvement occurs when customers lack either:
1) purchase motivation (e.g., when customers don’t care about the product or service) or
2) purchase ability (e.g., when customers do not know anything else about the brands in a category or lack the expertise to judge quality even if they do know some things).
Key Criteria for Brand Awareness
Brand awareness can be distinguished in terms of two key dimensions – depth and breadth. Depth of brand awareness refers to how easily customers can recall or recognize the brand. Breadth of brand awareness refers to the range of purchase and consumption situations where the brand comes to mind. A highly salient brand is one that has both depth and breadth of brand awareness, i.e., such that customers always make sufficient purchases as well as always think of the brand across a variety of settings when it could possibly be employed or consumed.
Thus, in terms of creating brand salience, in many cases, it is not only the depth of brand awareness that matters, but also the breadth of brand awareness and properly linking the brand to various categories and cues in customers’ minds. In other words, it is important that the brand not only be “top-of-mind” and have sufficient “mind share” but it must also do so at the right times and right places.
Breadth is an often-neglected consideration, even for brands that are category leaders. For many brands, the key question is not whether customers can recall the brand or not but, instead, where do they think of the brand, when they do think of the brand, and how easily and often do they think of the brand? In particular, many brands and products are ignored or forgotten at possible usage situations. Increasing the salience of the brand in those settings can be an effective means to drive consumption and increase sales volume. For example, a potentially effective strategy for sales growth for market leader Campbell’s Soup might be to ensure that their customers think of the soup during possibly overlooked consumption opportunities.
Brand salience is an important first step in building brand equity, but usually not sufficient. For most customers in most situations, other considerations, such as the meaning or image of the brand, also come into play. Creating brand meaning involves establishing a brand image and what the brand is characterized by and should stand for in the minds of customers. Although a myriad of different types of brand associations are possible, brand meaning broadly can be distinguished in terms of more functional, performance-related considerations versus more abstract, imagery-related considerations. Thus, brand meaning is made up of two major categories of brand associations that exist in customers’ minds – related to performance and imagery – with a set of specific sub-categories within each. These brand associations can be formed directly – from a customer’s own experiences and contact with the brand – or indirectly – through the depiction of the brand in advertising or by some other source of information (e.g., word-of-mouth).
We next describe the two main types of brand meaning and the sub-categories within each.
The product itself is at the heart of brand equity, as it is the primary influence of what consumers experience with a brand, what they hear about a brand from others, and what the firm can tell customers about the brand in their communications. Designing and delivering a product that fully satisfies consumer needs and wants is a prerequisite for successful marketing, regardless of whether the product is a tangible good, service, organization, etc. To create brand loyalty and resonance, consumers’ experiences with the product must at least meet, if not actually surpass their expectations. Numerous studies have shown that high quality brands tend to perform better financially, e.g., yielding higher returns on investment.
Brand performance relates to the ways in which the product or service attempts to meet customers’ more functional needs. Thus, brand performance refers to the intrinsic properties of the brand in terms of inherent product or service characteristics. How well does the brand rate on objective assessments of quality? To what extent does the brand satisfy utilitarian, aesthetic, and economic customer needs and wants in the product or service category?
The specific performance attributes and benefits making up functionality will vary widely by category. Nevertheless, there are five important types of attributes and benefits that often underlie brand performance, as follows:
1) Primary characteristics ; supplementary features. Customers often have beliefs about the levels at which the primary characteristics of the product operate (e.g., low, medium, high, or very high). Additionally, they may also may have beliefs as to special, perhaps even patented, features or secondary elements of a product that complement these primary characteristics.
2) Product reliability, durability, & serviceability. As noted above, customers can view the performance of products or services in a broader manner. Reliability refers to the consistency of performance over time and from purchase to purchase. Durability refers to the expected economic life of the product. Serviceability refers to the ease of servicing the product if it needs repair. Thus, perceptions of product performance are impacted by factors such as the speed, accuracy, and care of product delivery and installation; the promptness, courtesy, and helpfulness of customer service and training; the quality of repair service and the time involved; and so on.
3) Service effectiveness, efficiency, and empathy. Customers often have performance-related associations that relate to the service interactions they have with brands. Along those lines, service effectiveness refers to how completely the brand satisfies customers’ service requirements. Service efficiency refers to the manner by which these services are delivered in terms of speed, responsiveness, etc. Finally, service empathy refers to the extent to which service providers are seen as trusting, caring, and with customer’s interests in mind.
4) Style and design. Consumers may have associations to the product that go beyond its functional aspects to more aesthetic considerations such as its size, shape, materials, and color involved. Thus, performance may also depend on sensory aspects as to how a product looks and feels and perhaps even what it sounds or smells like.
5) Price. Finally, the pricing policy for the brand can create associations in consumers’ minds to the relevant price tier or level for the brand in the category, as well as to its corresponding price volatility or variance (in terms of the frequency or magnitude of discounts, etc.). In other words, the pricing strategy adopted for a brand can dictate how consumers categorize the price of the brand (e.g., as low, medium, or high priced) and how firm or flexible that price is seen as (e.g., as frequently or infrequently discounted).
Brand performance thus transcends just the “ingredients” that make up the product or service to encompass aspects of the brand that augment these ingredients. Any of these different performance dimensions can serve as a means by which the brand is differentiated. Often, the strongest brand positioning involves performance advantages of some kind, and it is rare that a brand can overcome severe deficiencies on these dimensions.
The other main type of brand meaning involves brand imagery. Brand imagery deals with the extrinsic properties of the product or service, including the ways in which the brand attempts to meet customers’ more psychological or social needs. Brand imagery is how people think about a brand abstractly rather than what they think the brand actually does. Thus, imagery refers to more intangible aspects of the brand.
All different kinds of intangibles can be linked to a brand, but four categories can be highlighted:
1) User profiles. One set of brand imagery associations is the type of person or organization who uses the brand. This imagery may result in a profile or mental image by customers of actual users or more aspirational, idealized users. Associations of a typical or idealized brand user may be based on descriptive demographic factors or more abstract psychographic factors. Demographic factors might include gender, age, race, income, and marital status. Psychographic factors might include attitudes toward life, careers, possessions, social issues, or political institutions. In a business-to-business setting, user imagery might relate to the size or type of organization. User imagery may focus on more than characteristics of just one type of individual and center on broader issues in terms of perceptions of a group as a whole. For example, customers may believe that a brand is used by many people and therefore view the brand as “popular” or a “market leader.”
2) Purchase and usage situations. A second set of associations is under what conditions or situations the brand could or should be bought and used. Associations of a typical purchase situation may be based on a number of different considerations, such as:
i) Type of channel (e.g., department store, specialty store, or direct through internet or some other means);
ii) Specific store (e.g., Macy’s, Foot Locker or Fogdog.com); and ii) Ease of purchase and associated rewards, if any. Similarly, associations of a typical usage situation may be based on a number of different considerations, such as:
iii) Particular time of the day, week, month, or year to use the brand;
iv) Location to use the brand (e.g., inside or outside the home); and
v) Type of activity where the brand is used (e.g., formal or informal).
vi) Personality and values. Brands may also take on personality traits and values similar to people.
Brand personality is often related to the more descriptive usage imagery but involves much richer, more contextual information. Five dimensions of brand personality (with corresponding sub-dimensions) which have been identified are:
1) Sincerity (e.g., down to earth, honest, wholesome, and cheerful);
2) Excitement (e.g., daring, spirited, imaginative, and up-to-date);
3) Competence (e.g., reliable, intelligent, successful);
4) Sophistication (e.g., upper class and charming); and
5) Ruggedness (e.g., outdoorsy and tough).
4) History, heritage, and experiences. Finally, brands may take on associations to their past and certain noteworthy events in the brand history. These types of associations may involve distinctly personal experiences and episodes or be related to past behaviors and experiences of friends, family, or others. Consequently, these types of associations may be fairly idiosyncratic across people, although sometimes exhibiting certain commonalties. Alternatively, these associations may be more public and broad-based and therefore be shared to a larger degree across people. In either case, associations to history, heritage, and experiences involve more specific, concrete examples that transcend the generalizations that make up the usage imagery.
Key Criteria for Brand Meaning
Thus, a number of different types of associations related to either performance and imagery may become linked to the brand. Regardless of the type involved, the brand associations making up the brand image and meaning can be characterized and profiled according to three important dimensions that provide the key to building brand equity:
1) Strength – How strongly is the brand identified with a brand association?
2) Favorability – How important or valuable is the brand association to customers?
3) Uniqueness – How distinctively is the brand identified with the brand association?
Successful results on these three dimensions produce the most positive brand responses, the underpinning of intense and active brand loyalty. To create brand equity, it is important that the brand have some strong, favorable, and unique brand associations in that order. In other words, it doesn’t matter how unique a brand association is unless customers evaluate the association favorably, and it doesn’t matter how desirable a brand association is unless it is sufficiently strong enough so that customers actually recall it and link it to the brand. At the same time, it should be recognized that not all strong associations are favorable and not all favorable associations are unique.
Creating strong, favorable, and unique associations are a real challenge to marketers, but essential in terms of building customer-based brand equity. Strong brands typically have firmly established strong, favorable, and unique brand associations with consumers, e.g., Volvo and Michelin (safety), Intel (performance and compatibility), Marlboro (western imagery), Coke (Americana and refreshment), Disney (fun, magical, family entertainment), Nike (innovative products and peak athletic performance), BMW (styling and driving performance), and so on.
Brand responses refer to how customers respond to the brand and all its marketing activity and other sources of information, i.e., what customers think or feel about the brand. Brand responses can be distinguished according to brand judgments and brand feelings, i.e., in terms of whether they arise more from the “head” or from the “heart.”
Brand judgments focus upon customers’ own personal opinions and evaluations with regard to the brand. Brand judgments involve how customers put together all the different performance and imagery associations for the brand to form different kinds of opinions. Customers may make all types of judgments with respect to a brand, but in terms of creating a strong brand, four types of summary brand judgments are particularly important (in ascending order of importance):
1) Brand quality. There are a host of attitudes that customers may hold towards brands, but among the most important relate in various ways to the perceived quality of the brand. Other notable attitudes related to quality pertain to perceptions of value and satisfaction.
2) Brand credibility. Customers may form judgments that transcend more specific brand quality concerns to consider broader issues related to the company or organization making the product or providing the service associated with the brand. In other words, customers may form judgments with respect to the company or organization behind the brand. Brand credibility refers to the extent to which the brand as a whole is seen as credible in terms of three dimensions – perceived expertise, trustworthiness, and likability. In other words, to what extent is the brand seen as being:
1) Competent, innovative, and a market leader (brand expertise);
2) Dependable and keeping customer interests in mind (brand trustworthiness); and
3) Fun, interesting, and worth spending time with (brand likeability).
4) Brand consideration. Eliciting favorable brand attitudes and perceptions of credibility are important but may be insufficient if customers do not actually seriously consider the brand for possible purchase or usage. Consideration is more than mere awareness and deals with the likelihood that customers will actually include the brand in the set of possible options of brands they might buy or use. Consideration depends in part on how personally relevant customers find the brand, i.e., the extent to which customers view the brand as being appropriate and meaningful to themselves. Thus, customers often make an overall appraisal as to whether or not they have any personal interest in a brand and whether they would or should ever buy a brand. Brand consideration is a crucial filter in terms of building brand equity. No matter how highly regarded or credible a brand may be, unless the brand also receives serious consideration and is deemed relevant too, customers will always keep a brand at a distance and never closely embrace it. Brand consideration will depend in large part on the extent to which strong and favorable brand associations can be created as part of the brand image.
5) Brand superiority. Finally, superiority relates to the extent to which customers view the brand as unique and better than other brands. In other words, do customers believe that the brand offers advantages that other brands cannot? Superiority is absolutely critical in terms of building intense and active relationships with customers and will depend to a great degree on the number and nature of unique brand associations that make up the brand image.
Brand feelings are customers’ emotional responses and reactions with respect to the brand. Brand feelings also relate to the social currency evoked by the brand. What feelings are evoked by the marketing program for the brand or by other means? How does the brand affect customers’ feelings about themselves and their relationship with others? These feelings can be mild or intense and be positive or negative in nature. Six important types of brand-building feelings are:
1) Warmth. Warmth refers to more soothing types of feelings – the extent to which the brand makes consumers feel a sense of calm or peacefulness. Consumers may feel sentimental, warmhearted, or affectionate about the brand.
2) Fun. Feelings of fun are also upbeat types of feelings when the brand makes consumers feel amused, light-hearted, joyous, playful, cheerful, and so on.
3) Excitement. Excitement relates to more upbeat types of feelings – the extent to which the brand makes consumers feel energized and a feeling that they are experiencing something special. Brands that evoke feelings of excitement may result in consumers feeling a sense of elation or “being alive” – cool, sexy, etc.
4) Security. Security feelings occur when the brand produces a feeling of safety, comfort, and self-assurance. Feelings of security are when consumers do not experience worry or concerns that they might have otherwise felt as a result of the brand.
5) Social approval. Social approval is when the brand results in consumers having positive feelings about the reactions of others – i.e., when consumers feel others look favorably on their appearance, behavior, and so on. This approval may be a result of direct acknowledgement of the consumer using the brand by others or less overt and a result of attribution of the product itself to consumers.
6) Self-respect. Self-respect occurs when the brand makes consumers feel better about themselves, e.g., when consumers feel a sense of pride, accomplishment or fulfillment.
The first three are more experiential and immediate, increasing in level of intensity. The latter three are more private and enduring, increasing in level of gravity.
Key Criteria for Brand Responses
Although all types of customer responses are possible – driven from both the “head and heart” – ultimately what matters is how positive they are. Additionally, it is also important that they are also accessible and come to mind when consumers think of the brand. Brand judgments and feelings can only favorably impact consumer behavior if it is the case that consumers internalize or think of positive responses in any of their encounters with the brand.
The final step of the model, brand relationships, focuses upon the ultimate relationship and level of identification that the customer has with the brand. Brand resonance refers to the nature of the relationship that customers have with the brand and the extent to which customers feel that they are “in synch” with the brand. Brand resonance is characterized in terms of intensity or the depth of the psychological bond that customers have with the brand as well as the level of activity engendered by this loyalty (e.g., repeat purchase rates, the extent to which customers seek out brand information, events, other loyal customers, and so on). Specifically, brand resonance can be broken down into four categories:
1) Behavioral loyalty. The first dimension of brand resonance is behavioral loyalty in terms of repeat purchases and the amount or share of category volume attributed to the brand. In other words, how often do customers purchase a brand and how much do they purchase? For bottom-line profit results, the brand must generate sufficient purchase frequencies and volumes.
2) Attitudinal attachment. Behavioral loyalty is necessary but not sufficient for resonance to occur. Some customers may buy out of necessity – buying for reasons such as because the brand is the only product being stocked or readily accessible, the only one they can afford to buy, and so on. To create resonance, there needs to also be a strong personal attachment too. Customers should go beyond having a positive attitude to view the brand as being something special in a broader context. For example, customers with a great deal of attitudinal attachment to a brand may state that they “love” the brand, describe it as one of their favorite possessions, or view it as a “little pleasure” that they look forward to.
3) Sense of community. The brand may also take on broader meaning to the customer in terms of a sense of community. Identification with a brand community may reflect an important social phenomenon whereby customers feel a kinship or affiliation with other people associated with the brand. These connections may involve fellow brand users or customers or, instead, may be employees or representatives of the company.
4) Active engagement. Finally, perhaps the strongest affirmation of brand loyalty is when customers are willing to invest time, energy, money, or other resources into the brand beyond those expended during purchase or consumption of the brand. For example, customers may choose to join a club centered on a brand, receive updates and exchange correspondence with other brand users or formal or informal representatives of the brand itself, and so on. They may choose to visit brand-related web sites, participate in chat rooms, etc. In this case, customers themselves became brand evangelists and ambassadors and help to communicate about the brand and strengthen the brand ties of others. Strong attitudinal attachment and/or social identity are typically necessary, however, for active engagement with the brand to occur.
Key Criteria for Brand Relationships
Brand relationships can be usefully characterized in terms of two dimensions – intensity and activity. Intensity refers to how strong are the attitudinal attachment and sense of community. In other words, how deeply felt is the loyalty? Activity refers to how frequently the consumer buys and uses the brand, as well as engages in other activities not related to purchase and consumption. In other words, in how many different ways does brand loyalty manifest itself in day-to-day consumer behavior? Examples of brands with high resonance include such brands as Harley-Davidson, Apple, Ebay and others.
BRAND BUILDING IMPLICATIONS
The Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model maintains that building a strong brand involves a series of logical steps:
1) establishing the proper brand identity,
2) creating the appropriate brand meaning,
3) eliciting the right brand responses, and
4) forging appropriate brand relationships with customers.
Specifically, according to this model, building a strong brand involves:
1) establishing breadth and depth of brand awareness;
2) creating strong, favorable, and unique brand associations;
3) eliciting positive, accessible brand responses; and
4) forging intense, active brand relationships (see Figure 3).
Achieving these four steps, in turn, involves establishing six brand building blocks – brand salience, brand performance, brand imagery, brand judgments, brand feelings, and brand resonance.
The strongest brands excel in all six of these areas and thus fully execute all four steps in building a brand. With the CBBE model, the most valuable brand building block, brand resonance, occurs when all the other brand building blocks are completely “in sync” with respect to customers’ needs, wants, and desires. In other words, brand resonance reflects a completely harmonious relationship between customers and the brand. With true brand resonance, customers have a high degree of loyalty marked by a close relationship with the brand such that customers actively seek means to interact with the brand and share their experiences with others. Firms that are able to achieve resonance and affinity with their customers should reap a host of valuable benefits, e.g., greater price premiums and more efficient and effective marketing programs.
In short, the basic premise of the CBBE model thus is that the true measure of the strength of a brand depends on how consumers think, feel, act, etc. with respect to that brand. Achieving brand resonance requires eliciting the proper cognitive appraisals and emotional reactions to the brand from customers. That, in turn, necessitates establishing brand identity and creating the right meaning in terms of brand performance and brand imagery associations. A brand with the right identity and meaning can result in a customer believing that the brand is relevant and “my kind of product.” The strongest brands will be those brands for which consumers become so attached and passionate that they, in effect, become evangelists or missionaries and attempt to share their beliefs and “spread the word” about the brand.
The key point to recognize is that the power of the brand and its ultimate value to the firm resides with customers. It is through their learning about and their experiences with a brand that they end up thinking and acting in a way that allows the firm to reap the benefits of brand equity. Although marketers must take responsibility to design and implement the most effective and efficient brand-building marketing programs possible, the success of those marketing efforts depends ultimately on how consumers respond. This response, in turn, depends on the knowledge that has been created in their minds for those brands.
The importance of the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model (CBBE) model is in the road map and guidance it provides for brand building. It provides a yardstick by which brands can assess their progress in their brand-building efforts as well as a guide for marketing research initiatives. With respect to the latter, one CBBE application is in terms of brand tracking and providing quantitative measures of the success of brand building efforts. The Appendix contains a set of candidate measures for the six brand building blocks. It should be recognized, however, that the brand building blocks at the bottom two levels of the pyramid – brand salience, performance and imagery – are typically more idiosyncratic and unique to a product and service category. Consequently, they may require some customization that goes beyond these generic versions of questions.
A critical application of the CBEE model is in planning, implementing, and interpreting brand strategies. In the remainder of this section, we illustrate how the model can be used and the principles that underlie it by broadly addressing three different questions.
1. Why do certain categories or markets not seem to have any strong brands? In some product or service categories, there appear to be few if any brands that have amassed much brand equity. For example, although there are many successful banks, airlines, etc., there are relatively few that can be characterized as being truly strong brands, despite the high involvement nature of those categories. The CBBE model can be used to interpret this failure. In a basic sense, brands in these categories have been unable to elicit positive responses and intense, active loyalty, primarily because the brand meaning does not include sufficiently strong, favorable, and unique brand associations. Consequently, these brands fail to achieve resonance with their customers. As an exception, Southwest Airlines has been able to achieve resonance through a well-designed and executed marketing program that has established the necessary brand meaning .
Brand resonance is the pinnacle of the CBBE model and provides important focus and priority for marketing decision-making. Marketers building brands should use brand resonance as a goal and a means to interpret their brand-related marketing activities. The question to ask is, to what extent is marketing activity affecting the key dimensions of brand resonance – consumer loyalty, attachment, community, or engagement with the brand? Is marketing activity creating brand performance and imagery associations and consumer judgments and feelings that will support these brand resonance dimensions?
Yet, it must also be recognized that it is virtually impossible for consumers to experience an intense, active loyalty relationship with all the brands they purchase and consume. Thus, some brands will be more meaningful to consumers than others, in part due to the nature of their associated product or service, characteristics of the consumer, and so on. In those cases where it may be difficult to create a varied set of feelings and imagery associations, marketers might not be able to obtain the “deeper” aspects of brand resonance (e.g., active engagement). By taking a broader view of brand loyalty, however, marketers may be able to gain a more holistic appreciation for their brand and how it could connect with consumers. By defining the proper role for the brand, higher levels of brand resonance should be obtainable.
This article was sourced from : Professor Kevin Lane Keller