How to Build Brand Equity for Your Association

Eric Edwards

10/14/2022

When you think of a business’s “brand” you probably think of the company’s logo or maybe a specific product line. If the business is service-oriented, the people that work for the company and interact with their customers become “brand” representatives.

What is Brand Equity?

So, what does “brand equity” mean, and why is it essential for an association?
Brand equity is a company’s or organization’s perceived value determined by customer experiences with the brand, and it can constantly change as customers have positive or negative experiences. Once customers try a product or service, a good experience will make the brand a preferred choice that will be used or tried again. This equates to positive brand equity. Think of brand equity as the emotional bond customers have with the brand. And, like curing concrete, brand equity starts immediately after being used and will be the bedrock for the company.

Companies with high brand equity include Apple, Amazon, Google, Disney, and Starbucks. The value of positive brand equity means:

  • The brand becomes a defined standard by which the company can measure and maintain a consistent expectation enjoyed by customers.
  • A company could charge more for a product or service with considerable brand equity (see Apple Computers).
  • If customers like your brand and their loyalty transcends to vocal advocacy by engaging and referring others, your brand can significantly extend its reach.
  • Other lines of business or companies associated with the positive brand equity company also will reap benefits from the perceived value.

Conversely, a negative experience can create negative brand equity. For example, we can all think of a restaurant we’ve tried where the food and/or service didn’t meet our standards. If that restaurant had favorable reviews from a friend, we might give it one, perhaps two more chances. If the experience is again negative, however, the restaurant has negative brand equity for you—while you wonder what’s wrong with your friend’s taste buds.

Brand Equity

Building Brand Equity for Your Association: Think Whole, Not Pieces

Associations often partner with other brands, and it’s important to consider the brand equity of your partners early on. The equity built from all of your partners can make up the whole of your own brand equity.

Let’s revisit the fourth bullet above: Other lines of business or companies associated with positive brand equity will also reap benefits from the perceived value. We mentioned this in a previous blog.

In the case of an affinity program comprised of multiple brands, a single company’s product or service with negative brand equity could tarnish the overall program. And, since we are talking about affinity solutions for associations, this is “guilt by association,” a perception, accurate or not, that the value of the Association isn’t as good as it could be based on the actions of one provider; the weakest link, if you will.

If left unchecked, unrecognized, or ignored, the adverse effect of one provider can not only bring down member engagement but also non-dues revenue for the Association.

Conversely, strong and trusted partners can increase your brand equity, boost member experience and engagement, and contribute to your non-dues revenue.

Three Ways to Build Brand Equity for Your Association

Brand equity is perception, and for an Association, that means all of your partnerships as well. Here are three things that can help your Association build brand equity:

  1. Conduct member surveys at least once a year to discover any possible recurring issues with your members. All businesses have their ups and downs. Survey results can help reveal areas for improvement and open up a dialogue about how to correct it.
  2. Take the time to find the stories about how the Association benefited a particular member or solved a problem. Then communicate the story to the entire Association. Do this at least once a month, and watch your positive brand equity build.
  3. Schedule regular communication check-ins with each of your partners. Affinity partners, for example, will want to sell more products to members. Have a group or individual partner check-in once to gauge how member interactions are going and ask if the Association can provide mutually beneficial assistance. Marketing ideas can also be shared in a group setting.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about the positive brand equity Core Affinity has built through a network of strong supplier partners ready to add value to your association through affinity programs.