a t i n g b ra ii d
e s 0 n a n c c
c q u i r c s
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I i y s
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By K e \ i n 1. a ii i' K c 11 (.• r
BUILDING A STRONG BRAND with great equity provides a host of possible benefits to a firm, such
a.s greater customer loyalty and less vulnerability to competitive marketing actions or marketing crises;
larger margins; more favorable customer response to price increases and decreases; greater trade or inter-
mediary cooperation and support; increased marketing communication effectiveness; and licensing and
brand extension opportunities.
Companies are interested in building strong brands with great equity, but getting there isn t always
easy. To build brand equity, companies must start with the basics. What makes a brand strong? How do
you build a strong brand? To help answer these questions, I developed a model of brand building called
the customer-based brand equity (CBBE) model, which maps out what brand equity is and how it should
best be built, measured, and managed.
The CBBE model was designed to be comprehensive, cohesive, well-grounded, up to date, and
actionable. The premise of this model is that the power of a brand lies in what customers have learned,
felt, seen, and heard about the brand over time. The power of a brand is in what resides in the minds of
customers. Marketers' continuing challenge in building a strong brand is to ensure customers have the
right types of experiences with products and services and their accompanying marketing programs so
the desired thoughts, feelings, images, perceptions, and attitudes become linked to the brand.
Building a strong brand, according to the CBBE model, can be thought of as a series of steps, where
each step is contingent on successfully achieving the previous step. The first step is to ensure identifica-
tion 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 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 final step
is to convert brand response to create an intense, active loyalty relationship between customers and the
The following four steps represent fundamental questions that customers invariably ask about
brands—either implicitly or explicitly: (1) Who are you?
(2) What are you?
(3) What do I think or feel about you?
(4) Wliat kind of association and how much of a con-
nection would I likf to have with you?
The steps in this "branding ladder" follow an order, from identity to meaning to responses to rela-
tionships. Meaning cannot be established without first creating identity; responses cannot occur unless