Developing Brand Image Through Brand Imagery - Part 2

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Posted Feb 09, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Brand Imagery as an Element of Brand Equity

In Part 1 of the Developing Brand Image Through Brand Imagery series, you learned the primary differences between brand image and brand imagery. Now, it's time to learn how brand imagery affects brand equity. Building your brand's equity should be a strategic priority, so it makes sense that developing brand imagery should be a part of that strategy, too.

developing brand imagery

Understanding Brand Equity

In my Brand Equity Series, I define brand equity as follows:

“The tangible and intangible value that a brand provides positively or negatively to an organization, its products, its services, and its bottom-line derived from consumer knowledge, perceptions, and experiences with the brand.”

Brand equity can affect both the tangible and intangible value of a brand. For example, thanks to built in brand equity, Tiffany & Co. can charge a price premium on its products. The trickiest part for people to understand is that brand equity is built by consumers, not companies. That's because at their core, consumers build brands, not companies.

Let me explain.Consumers build brands by experiencing them, building perceptions of those brands, becoming emotionally involved in those brands, talking about those brands, and becoming loyal to them. Therefore, brand equity comes directly from consumer perceptions and expectations based on their experiences with the brand.In my Brand Equity Basics series, I explain the key ways to build brand equity:

  1. Differentiation
  2. Value
  3. Performance
  4. Emotional connection
  5. Engagement

By differentiating your brand from others on the market, demonstrating that it adds value to their lives, and proving it through brand performance, you can develop an emotional connection between consumers and your brand that leads to deep engagement where people create their own ways to experience the brand.

Brand Imagery as a Component of Brand Equity

geico gecko

An important part of measuring brand equity is assessing how brand imagery affects consumer perception and loyalty to the brand. In my Brand Equity Basics series, you learn many ways to measure brand equity, including five consumer brand equity metrics that you can apply to brand imagery:

  • Relevance
  • Emotional connections
  • Differentiators
  • Value
  • Perceptions

Your goal is to identify the brand imagery that is helping to build brand equity. For example, the GEICO gecko might be an important brand imagery component that adds to GEICO's brand equity.

nickelodeon logo

For Nickelodeon, slime has long been an important brand imagery component. Needless to say, when Nickelodeon launched a rebranding effort in 2009 that included a new logo without the slime imagery, consumers were surprised. Fortunately for Nickelodeon, the brand promise was strong and the slime imagery could still be found in other Nickelodeon experiences. Therefore, consumers accepted the change without dire consequences for the brand.

Tropicana didn't fare as well as Nickelodeon. In 2008, when Tropicana removed the iconic orange imagery from its packaging, consumers were so unhappy that the company had to revert to the previous packaging not long after the new packaging debuted. Consumers simply could not disconnect the iconic packaging with the straw in the orange from their image of the brand. It's an example of powerful brand imagery, and the company failed to investigate just how emotionally connected consumers were to that imagery.

Remember, consumers build brands, not companies. Don't discount their emotional connection to brand imagery. Instead, recognize how powerful brand imagery can be in terms of building brand equity. Do you think Tiffany & Co. would be willing to give up the brand equity that comes from that robin's egg blue box? That's a piece of brand imagery that other brands would love to have. Invest in efforts to build brand imagery and then give it the attention it deserves. It can be a very valuable thing.

Next up in the Developing Brand Image Through Brand Imagery series you'll learn how to use market research to define and create brand imagery. If you missed Part 1 of the series, which discussed the difference between brand image and brand imagery, follow the preceding link to read it now.

Images: stock.xchng, Flickr

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