Global firms spend billions of dollars a year in the pursuit of building and maintaining strong brands. They know that a strong, recognizable brand can drive revenue growth and mitigate competitive risk. Even in times of recession, some gutsy marketing executives request marketing dollars to continue brand building because of the effect a strong brand can have on revenue generation.
Consumers seek what is known
Shareholders may clamor for promotions and coupons to ring the cash register now, but clever marketing people know that consumers retreat to what they know in uncertain times and that bodes well for top brands.
Year after year the Business Week/Interbrand, brand equity report names Coca Cola as the #1 Brand on the planet. It is the brand with the most valuable brand equity – upwards of $70 million. Alternatively, Millward Brown, a unit of ad agency WPP, named Google the world’s top brand in its annual “Top 100 Most Powerful Brands” survey (report available here). Both brands are members of an exclusive club and it’s said that when Coke entered Poland, its red and white delivery trucks drew applause at traffic lights.
Good brands provide a name or symbol that gives a product credibility and helps the consumer identify and choose the product. In the Global Marketing and Strategy course I teach at UCLA we discuss how and why global firms continue to spend an enormous amount of time and money to manage and defend the value of their brands.
Building personal brand equity
So how does global brand equity apply to building personal brand equity? As I mentioned in last week’s post, defining your personal brand starts with who you are: What do you stand for? What are your values? How do you want to be perceived? This hard work lays the foundation for building brand equity around your brand.
To ensure your personal brand equity today, you have to build a solid and compelling brand online. Some of the same principles that apply to creating brand equity for global brands apply to your personal brand. For example, the Interbrand method evaluates brands much like analysts would value any other asset: on the basis of how much they’re likely to earn in the future.
It’s amazing how many job-seekers don’t realize that recruiters and hiring decision makers routinely Google and search the Internet when vetting candidates, especially for executive positions. If you’re invisible online or if your ‘Digital DNA’ discredits you, you’re sure to miss out on potential career opportunities.
- The extent of your network (e.g. Number of LinkedIn contacts + Twitter followers + Facebook friends, etc.,) is a good place to start
- Measuring your brand value. Next you look at how to measure the value your brand is creating in the target market you’ve defined. You want to establish a baseline and track changes in brand equity over time. Companies do not spend millions on developing a brand identity to suddenly begin “flying blind” and neither do you. Managers of top brands develop a measurement system to help gauge the effects of tactics and strategies on a brand and help set priorities for the future. You want to do the same.
- Ability to start a conversation. Finally, monitor your ability to start a conversation via blog comments, subscriber conversion, Facebook status comments, etc. And finally measure the growth of your network in terms of additions, followers, etc. in a week/month, etc.
Monitor Your Brand Equity
- Google Your Name. Again, it is surprising how many people don’t do this. When was the last time you Googled your name? Do it now.
- Google Alerts allows you to receive email or RSS news based on the any topic you choose. The alerts track blogs, news articles, videos, etc.
- Twitter search can help you monitor the virality of your brand
- Social Mention is also a search engine that returns content from social media services
- Backtype allows you to monitor only blog comments.
The fact of the matter is that real brands have real value and produce real returns. Your personal brand must do the same. Be careful, though, because it’s not just about numbers and scorekeeping. Understand how brand equity can influence overall performance so that you can make better business decisions.
A good motto in the online world is “give to get”. Offer something of value to your audience – a free chapter of your new ebook, a free download of a new song, some tips on applications, something you’ve found useful.
I put the question to my Twitter followers, asking “How do you measure personal brand equity?” One follower pretty much summed it up, “Right now for me, it’s all about building relationships & a value platform for networking in my business.” Another said, “I measure my equity by adding speaking/chairing requests and opportunities for my company through personal requests and references made about me, etc.” Sounds like they’re on their way to creating and monitoring their personal brand equity.