Establishing brand equity is the most challenging task any company faces. It is indeed very difficult to create and then sustain the image of the brand, and this is made even more difficult by the focus a company puts on various aspects that constitutes the brand. It is often seen that a company gives more importance to one aspect of the brand, be it the products, customers, strategies or the organization. In order to talk about how to increase the value of a brand, it is very important to understand what drives a brand. Is it the products (and services) a company deliver, or the customers of these products or the employees who produce them or something else?
Often companies are highly focused on the customers. Customer focus is great and of course very important. Listen to the CEO of your favorite company talk and most important take away from it will be how customer focused the company is or how much more customer focused they want it to be. But can customers drive a brand all by themselves? I don’t think so. Customers are of course a very important part of the brand but they are not the sole drivers of the brand.
Then there is the product. There are a set of companies that believe by creating the best product out there, they can win over the competition and strengthen the brand. As much as it is true that you got to have a great product to establish your brand, it is also true that only delivering the best product will not take you too far. World is full of examples where the most famous brand in the market does not produce the best product. This is because there are numerous other factors that add to the value of the brand.
There are similar explanations for employees of the organization. Smart people are important to lay a strong base for a brand, but they alone cannot define the destiny of a brand. And then there are many other things like strategies, financial muscles, market placement and so on that are so important for a brand but on there own are of very less value.
We can very well conclude that none of the components of a brand on its own can drive it. So what drives the brand? It is the connection between all these components that drives it. All these components brought together forms the ecology of the brand and that in-turn becomes the driving force behind the brand. This is something that can explain the problem or the difficulty in establishing the brand. Often times we are so much focused on one of these pieces that we lose sight of the big picture. We are artificially creating separation between the company and the customers, various departments in a company, and between the company and its employees, but in fact they are all part of the same system. All these together defines the brand ecosystem and the strength of a brand is directly proportional to the number and strength of the connections between the various components of this ecosystem.
The company in itself along with its people forms the foundation of ecosystem. By people here I really mean all the people. Everyone from product development to marketing to finance is part of the foundation and have equal importance. Then there are the customers and the connection of the company with its customers. This is one of the most important part of the brand ecosystem that can make or break the brand. Companies connect with their customers in innovative ways that highlight the importance of this particular connection. Then there is the product that the company puts out in the market. It is very important that the product connects well with the customers and meets their requirement. Various strategic partnerships to provide a wholesome experience to the customers is also equally important. Bottom line: the bigger the ecosystem of a brand and more the connections between the components, the greater is the strength of the brand.