Discover the Power of Building Brand Equity

I recently came off the road from a number of trade shows at which I had many conversations with small-business owners in our industry. During one of the marketing sessions I led, we discussed how companies were utilizing their marketing as the foundation for their businesses and incorporating it into the other facets of their companies.

brand message clear and consistent
Is your brand message clear and consistent on everything? This means your website, social media, email marketing, newsletters, posting signs, invoices, trucks and uniforms, to name just a few. Photo courtesy of Arbor Masters.

This led me to ask: What is your brand? What does your company stand for? Most important, what do your customers think your brand stands for?

Brand equity is defined as the value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a product or service rather than the product or service itself. What does this mean to your company? Good brand equity helps differentiate your company, increase its value and improve customer loyalty.

Take a look outside of our industry. You will find that the most successful companies have solid brand equity, which is connected to brand awareness and better recall of that company. Brand loyalty increases the value of that brand and allows companies to command a premium for their product or service.

What comes to mind when you think of Apple, Volvo or Nordstrom? Your mind probably thinks of innovation, safety and exceptional customer service, respectively. Those companies invested a lot of resources for that correlation to be second nature. That’s the power of brand equity.

Live up to the image

In what can be considered a commodity-driven business to your customer, brand equity is a powerful strategy to differentiate your company. However, it only matters if you live up to the brand and your customers can recognize it.

Apple reinvented cellphone technology with the introduction of the iPhone, at the time crushing BlackBerry, which was thought to be the world’s most innovative device.

Nordstrom values its customer service so much that they have been known to refund a customer for a dress shirt that was obviously worn for years, complete with stains. Nordstrom’s brand equity is so important to the company that they will go to these lengths to uphold their brand.

The next Volvo ad you see, notice how the messaging always centers around safety. Not only the message, but they deliver as well, with 13 of their models earning Top Safety Pick awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

While these large corporations have large marketing dollars to invest, with the right strategic thinking and planning, you can do the same for your small business.

Building brand equity

How do you build brand equity for your small business?

  1. Define your “one thing.”
    What is the “one thing” your company does better than anyone else? Ask your team. Definitely ask your customers. It only matters if your customers can recognize it.
  2. Is your “one thing” differentiated from your competitors?
    Think of the three main competitors you bump up against most often. You should be able to understand their marketing messages. What do they say to their prospects (some of whom are your customers!)? Visit their websites, read their marketing messages, follow them on social media and even interact with them. Is the message their sales team promotes consistent with their marketing messages? How different is your “one thing” from your competitors’?

If you are having a tough time determining your “one thing,” it may be time to perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to help you and your team focus. Invest the time in getting it right, and then deliver that message to all parts of your business.

Communicate with consistency

Once you’ve discovered your “one thing,” review all of your marketing collateral. Everything. This means your website, social media, email marketing, newsletters, posting signs, invoices, trucks and uniforms, to name just a few. Is your brand message clear and consistent on everything?

There’s a lot to unpack with this one. Develop a communication plan to highlight your success implementing your “one thing.” For example, developing a case study of how your expertise saved a historic tree or how your PHC program can protect the investment of a newly installed landscape as it matures. These case studies can become part of your communication plan and can be featured on your website, on social media and in newsletters.

Also, reach out to your local media. Local reporters are constantly looking for content to highlight small businesses doing good in their community. This is a great way to build your brand equity, gain awareness and establish yourself as the local expert. In my business, I was featured in such a way that it led to additional work and eventually a featured column in the local newspaper.


Brand equity is not something that happens overnight. It takes conscious effort and time to build brand equity in your company. The results are well worth it: increased customer retention, repeat business, the ability to command a premium for your service and true differentiation from your competition.

It is one thing to talk a good game, but if you can deliver to consistently build the value of your brand, it will serve your business for years to come.

Mike Sisti is North America marketing manager, Global Specialty Solutions at FMC Corporation.

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