Appendix B
Episode 049 -

Brand Equity Pyramid Part II: Brand Performance

Text reads: Appendix B, Brand Equity Pyramid Part 2: Brand Performance. A Bravery Podcast

In the latest episode of Appendix B, Joel Goodman and Kristin Van Dorn from Bravery Media delve into the second level of the customer-based brand equity pyramid, focusing on brand performance and imagery within the context of higher education. They emphasize the importance of brand salience, ensuring that an institution is top-of-mind when prospective students are considering their options.


**Joel Goodman:**From Bravery Media, this is Appendix B. My name is Joel Goodman. With me is Kristin Van Dorn, and we are talking about… Kristin, what are we talking about?

Kristin Van Dorn: So, we’re talking about the customer base brand equity pyramid again, but this time, we’re going to talk about the second level.

**Joel:**So recap, the first level is brand salience, and that’s, have people heard of you? Basically.

Kristin: Yeah, so it’s the base of the pyramid. It is, do people know who you are? Are you in that conversation when they’re thinking about making a purchasing decision? And in terms of higher education, that’s usually an application decision. Like, who am I going to?

You want to make sure that when they sit down, and they’re like, yeah, it’s time to apply to college, your university or institution pops up in their mind as an option.

So then, the second level is about performance and imagery. So this is when they rule you in or out. Basically, if the first level, Brand Salience, is about establishing your position and value to your prospective customers, now performance and imagery are what they think about the quality or value they’re getting from your product.

So, its performance in the marketplace or in terms of using it. Then, there is the imagery associated with that. In terms of higher education, they’ll think about the quality of the academic program. They’ll think about their likelihood of getting a job afterward. They will think about the services that you offer, your features, and your benefits.

This is actually at the heart of where differentiation and parity strategies start. Because this is where you want to show, this is how I’m like other institutions and how I offer just as good, if not better, quality for these different kinds of metrics. And then this is how I am different. This is what I offer that no one else has.

So that’s all in the judgment space. And then, on the imagery side, you start to get ideas about what this looks like regarding how someone would perceive your brand.

Joel: Okay. So Kristin, how does that work in terms of strategies for our friends who are trying to get a handle on their branding process?

Kristin: So once you feel like you have salience with your market, you feel like they know who you are and know what value you’re trying to pitch to them. Now, when you’re trying to convey the meaning of your brand, this is all about putting things in people’s heads when they’re defensively like, no, I don’t want all this stuff in my brain. It sounds awful, but that’s what marketers do, right? It’s about making people think of things they may or may not want to remember.

But now you’re looking at how I impart the imagery aspect. So, what does this product look like? What kinds of visual identity are associated with this product compared to performance? Like how well does this product perform? So that might be giving them statistics or some level of social proof, like quotes. This might be helping them understand these are the differentiators and how we’re similar to other brands.

**Joel:**Is there a danger of creating some dissonance between what you want them to think of you and The actual quality of what you put out there? If the imagery doesn’t match the other side of it that you want to put in there, does that create a tension that may work against your brand?

Kristin: Of course. So yeah, that’s the heart of performance and imagery, right? Is that we have to make sure that these are authentically delivered messages. So we can’t go out there and say we’re the best at something when we’re the 47th best at something.

Joel: So what about the other side of it? We see this a lot on websites, and I mean, this isn’t strictly tied to branding, but it gets connected, you know, where people are putting all these stats on their homepage or program pages, but it’s a stat like we’re number nine in whatever region. It’s number nine, like.

Is that a good thing? Like you’re not number one, why are you saying you’re number nine? Is that a good concrete example of like something not to do because it creates that dissonance? Because I would imagine that these things build up as well. It’s not just a one-off you say something negative or something that’s, you know, that’s disassociated and that ruins the whole thing in most cases.

Kristin: Yeah, so I mean. You only want to put things into your marketing and branding efforts that your consumers will understand easily. So again. Our branding is sort of like an offensive strategy. If we look at our opposing team as our prospective customers, they’re defensively trying not to focus on this stuff too much. They don’t necessarily want all this clutter in their brain. So we have to think about how to make that stuff we’re putting out there so useful that it sticks. And you make it useful in that it sticks by making it very clear, honest, and short.

**Joel:**I mean, that makes sense, though. And we do this in content strategy when we’re trying to make websites perform better. We don’t want to confuse anyone. They’ve got enough going on at the same time. You’ve talked about the nature of recall and making sure that we don’t overload people with a whole bunch of stuff they’re not going to remember but to get in there with precise messaging, precise visuals, and precise marketing that allows them to connect to who we are and remember what that benefit is.

Kristin: Yeah, so it’s not just about giving them data or facts. It’s about explaining those facts meaningfully so that they can tether it back to what’s the value for them.

So, in every case with branding, what you’re trying to do is not just say, this is my value to the world. You’re saying this is my value to you, specifically. You are a prospective student. So, that takes knowing your audience, your targets, and what matters to them. And not doing like a spray and pray of, here’s 18 different stats and a bunch of different quotes from this program, hoping that the sheer mass of it will be compelling. We’re not trying to compel them to be interested in us, just like overwhelming their senses. That’s going to have the opposite effect. We want to deliver something that speaks to them specifically in a way that’s so clear and compelling that they can’t just forget it.