A woman paying for something at a till

Customer-based brand equity is key to your success. Here's how to achieve it.

Everyone wants a brand that delivers results. That means having customer-based brand equity.

Let’s take a global brand like Nike. In 2022, it had a reported annual gross profit of over $21 billion.

Why is it so profitable? Because it’s a brand people love – to the point where it will be their go-to whenever they need sports (or even fashion) wear. The result is loyal customers who always come back and influence their friends to buy too. Wouldn’t the tweet below make you want to feel that same happiness?

That’s customer-based brand equity (CBBE). Under the CBBE framework, your success is directly attributed to how your customers feel about your brand. If people connect with your brand and have positive experiences, your sales are going to rise.

This guide explores the CBBE model in more details and how you can recreate it for your brand.

What is CBBE?

The CBBE model was created by Kevin Lane Keller in his book ‘Strategic Brand Management’. In simple terms, it’s a pyramid that shows how you can build you brand to get to the nirvana of ‘brand resonance’. Let’s explore every level.

Diagram of the CBBE pyramid

Level 1: Brand identity

The first level of the CBBE pyramid is brand identity – who are you?

This boils down to how your brand stands out from the crowd and gains awareness. You need to have strong foundations to build upon – which means appealing visuals, consistency and a friendly tone of voice.

There are several things you might do to raise awareness, including ad campaigns, targeted emails and PR. Your aims will be to showcase your brand and values, set yourself apart from competitors and get leads to recognise your brand. Your brand identity should tie it together.

Level 2: Brand meaning

Having people recognise your logo is one thing. But, they also need to know what you do to develop brand meaning.

This is where level 2 comes in. You need to ensure people know what you have to offer and why they should care.

The level is split into two categories:

  • Brand performance – what products/services you offer, price, reliability and customer experience
  • Brand imagery – what your products/services look like and how this ties into your brand personality

At this stage, you want the audience to get a crystal clear idea of what you have to offer and who to. Your target leads should leave knowing they’re a perfect fit for your products and services, which means addressing their needs and wants.

Level 3: Brand response

Next, we move onto how people feel about your brand. Once people are familiar with your brand and what you offer, they’ll quickly make a judgement.

Firstly, they’ll decide if you’re relevant to them. Next, they begin to unpick whether they can trust you or not.

Many things will be in the mix here:

  • Their first impressions of your brand (based on branding and key messages)
  • Reviews and word-of-mouth from other customers
  • How you compare to your competitors

Your aim is to get positive responses. It’s crucial to understand the judgements customers are making so you can play into them – or turn them on their heads.

Level 4: Brand resonance

Finally, we reach the holy grail of brand resonance.

As this point, your customer will:

  • Recognise your brand whenever they come across it
  • Know exactly what you offer
  • Understand that you’re relevant to them
  • Have positive feelings towards your brand (from good experiences)

With this in place, you will convert leads. You’ll also secure their trust and loyalty.

Data on American consumers suggests once a person is loyal to a brand, they’re loyal forever. By reaching the top of the CBBE pyramid, you’ll gain lifelong customers which keep revenue flowing.

What are the benefits of CBBE?

There are many sizeable benefits when you reach CBBE.

As our earlier Nike example suggests, the first is profit. A brand that customers resonate with is a successful one. This reflects in your sales, revenue and profit.

It’s also integral for customer loyalty. A customer who connects with your brand is more likely to revisit it in the future, spend more and be tempted by new offerings. Even as little as 5% increase in customer retention can drive revenue by 25%.

Remember that it’s six times more expensive to get new customers than it is to keep the ones you already have. By guaranteeing loyalty, you can minimise acquisition costs.

Added bonus: it’ll also become easier to get new customers. When people feel positively about your brand, they’re far more likely to leave you happy feedback or share their feelings with others.

This will get your brand in front of more people and ensure warm public sentiment. You’ll get a better reputation, higher review scores and more word-of-mouth marketing.

These all attract, influence and convert more leads – so that customer base keeps growing.

How to get CBBE in your brand

If you don’t already, now is a great time to get CBBE. In a cost-of-living crisis, people are more selective than ever about who they buy from. 55% of consumers also report trusting brands less.

By making sure yours wins their trust, you’ll reap the rewards even in a trying climate.

We’ve explored how to achieve each of the four levels in your brand.

1. Have a strong brand identity

You must start with a clear brand identity that carves your market position. Think bold, colourful and impactful.

But having great branding in place is only half the battle. You need to use it consistently to build familiarity. Doing so will allow people to recognise you – whether it’s through email, advertising, social media or anything else.

Create brand guidelines that show how your brand should be used across your communication channels.

Getting people to follow guidelines is tricky, especially if non-marketing teams design materials. A brand asset management tool like RightMarket is ideal for overcoming that barrier. It allows you to set up templates with your guidelines instilled so users stick to them.

This will mean your branding is consistent across your assets and channels, so people begin to develop a clear recognition of your brand.

2. Match your brand to your meaning

The brand you create should align with what you offer and who you’re targeting. By ensuring your brand relates to who you are, it’ll become easier for people to understand your meaning. This will also tie into your imagery and key messages.

For example, eco-driven brands tend to incorporate green and earthy colours, using floral or natural imagery. Their key messages will focus environmental impact. Products are described as ‘made from recycled materials’ or ‘produced in a carbon-neutral factory’.

When building your brand, remember your values always. By doing so, you will connect the visual element to what you do. Again, consistency is going to prove crucial in maintaining that meaning and preventing mixed messages.

By bringing everything aligned, people will understand your brand better. They can then make an informed choice about whether you’re a fit for their needs.

3. Use voice and service to gain a positive response

When someone sees your brand and understands what you do, they’re going to judge how they feel about you. If you want a positive judgement, you need to focus on how you make them feel.

The first thing you need to do is ensure you’re providing excellent customer service, always. It means making your customers’ lives easier and better.

If a customer is happy with what they’ve received, they’re far more likely to be loyal.

By keeping customers satisfied, they’re also more likely to share positive feedback about their experience. It results in great reviews and testimonials, which influence others to feel the same way so leads come to you already with a positive response.

Part of your customer service is the way you speak to customers. From the off, you should use a friendly, inclusive tone of voice that demonstrates why they should listen to you and like you.

If your voice is unwelcoming, people won’t get a good impression and are unlikely to pursue you further. That’s why tone of voice is a crucial part of brand and should align with your values.

Like the visual element of your brand, you should communicate consistent guidelines about how teams talk to customers.

We added a tone of voice assistant to RightMarket to make it easier to govern this across brand materials. It means you will always welcome them with your voice – allowing them to feel good about your brand.

4. Build trust and resonate with customers

Loyalty is what every brand wants. Consistency and experience are two significant factors in gaining loyalty, so you need to ensure your brand offers them.

By getting to a stage where people recognise, understand and like you, they’re far more likely to stick around. Consistently great experiences across your touchpoints will also bring trust. The benefit is returning customers.

It might even lead to engaged customers who form a community around your brand, creating a FOMO that influences more people to join, like Nike has.

That’s when the benefits really start coming in, including higher performance, more sales and better revenue.

How to track brand equity

So, how do you know when you’ve achieved CBBE? Fortunately, there are a few metrics to monitor:

  • Financial metrics, including revenue and profit. These can be tricky to attribute directly, but brands with stronger loyalty tend to get more sales and revenue.
  • Customer lifetime value. The more someone spends with you, the more their lifetime value is worth. If you’re seeing higher LTVs, it likely means you’re getting repeated purchases from loyal customers.
  • CSAT/review scores. Loyal customers tend to be happier and engaged, so are more likely to leave you favourable feedback.
  • Social listening. Check what people are saying about your brand on social media channels to uncover public sentiment. If it’s largely positive, it’s a good sign of CBBE.
  • Feedback. Speaking to your customers is a great way to gauge how they feel about your brand. Get out there talking to them through surveys, focus groups or just old-fashioned conversations!

How RightMarket helps

Achieving CBBE is a marker of success. It brings undeniable financial, performance and reputational results.

Having a great brand is only the first step. You need consistency to turn a visually great brand into a recognisable, meaningful and trustworthy one.

However, inconsistencies are all too frequent in branding. It only takes one person to use the wrong tone of voice, accidentally change your colour palette or place a logo incorrectly. You risk losing familiarity and reliability. You need a way to eradicate the risk and strength your brand.

RightMarket is a valuable tool in your mission to gain customer-based brand equity.

Our user-friendly templates will empower everyone in your organisation to create on-brand materials. They’ll gain instant recognition from those who know you and deliver positive experiences. Tone of voice is also taken care of, so you can ensure your customers are spoken to the way they expect.

Book a demo today

Find out how it works.