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Building relationships

A brand strategy model of engagement

Another way that the relationship between engagement and relationship marketing has been described is Keller’s (2001) brand equity model, also referred to as the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model.

The concept of the model is that you must shape how customers think and feel about your product if you are going to successfully build a strong brand. It is up to you to build the right type of experiences around your brand so that customers have specific, positive thoughts, feelings and perceptions about it.

Having strong brand equity will result in your customers buying more from you, recommend you to others, and to be more brand loyal.

There are four steps in the model, each representing a question a customer will ask about your brand. These four steps are made up of six building blocks that allow you to work your way up to the top of the pyramid and develop a successful brand. This structure is depicted below, along with the sort of questions a customer will be asking of an organisation and the likely brand implication for each level of engagement.

Graphic of a four lined table on an orange background with the ‘Customer questions’ heading for the left column, ‘Outcomes’ heading for the right column, and the outline of a triangle in between the two columns, containing various words. Starting at the bottom row, first line contains, from left to right: ‘1. Identity = Who are you?’ in the ‘Customer questions’ column, ‘Salience’ inside the section of triangle in this row, and ‘Deep, broad, brand awareness’ in the ‘Outcomes’ column. Second row contains: ‘2. Meaning = What are you?’ in the ‘Customer questions’ column, ‘Performance’ and ‘Imagery’ in the segment of triangle, and ‘Strong, favourable and unique brand associations’ in the ‘Outcomes’ column. Third row contains: ‘3. Response = What do I think/feel about you?’ in the ‘Customer questions’ column, ‘Judgements’ and ‘Feelings’ in the segment of triangle, and ‘Positive, accessible reactions to brand’ in the ‘Outcomes’ column. Fourth row contains: ‘4. Relationships = What about you and me?’ in the ‘Customer questions’ column, ‘Resonance’ in the segment of triangle, and ‘Intense, active brand loyalty’ in the ‘Outcomes’ column.
Brand engagement has been modelled as a multi-levelled pyramid (adapted from Keller, 2001)

Looking more closely at each step:

  1. Brand identity – who are you? In this step you must create brand salience (i.e. become noticeable in the market). Building brand awareness will allow potential customers to recognise you.
  2. Brand meaning – what are you? In this step you need to be able to communicate what your brand stands for, both in terms of the performance of the product or service in question and perceived image of the brand as a whole (in terms of its values, heritage or the types of people who use it).
  3. Brand response – what do I think or feel about you? What are your customers’ judgments and feelings about your brand’s quality, credibility and position relative to other providers?
  4. Brand resonance – how much of a connection would I like to have with you?

This final step is the most desirable level of engagement, but is difficult to achieve. It can be reached only once your customers feel a deep, emotional bond with your brand.

The previous week of this course examined the social and cultural factors that influence customers’ behaviour, and mentioned values that people hold. These are shared or personal beliefs that emerge over time, and while they can be few in number they are often difficult to change. By tapping into your market segment’s values and linking these to your brand’s values you can start to build a loyal relationship.

So, for example, you may believe that safety is a very important factor when you are looking to buy a car. And if this is really important to you and many other people then it becomes a value that’s culturally important. A marketer, then, will find it easier to sell cars that emphasise safety as a key product benefit. Where customers share the same values as a brand, they are more likely to develop long-standing emotional bonds with it and achieve Keller’s final level of engagement, brand resonance.

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This article is from the free online course:

Business Fundamentals: Customer Engagement

The Open University