Friday Five: Building brand equity, the ‘Iconic Advantage’ way

Iconic Advantage is a new book by Soon Yu

Today’s Friday Five is lifted straight from the pages of a book I recently picked up called Iconic Advantage: Don’t chase the new, innovate the old, by Soon Yu with David Birss. This isn’t a book about branding or marketing. It’s a book about building on the intrinsic “iconicity” of a brand, product or service. But it contains troves of great information for any brand manager or marketer. An early chapter on brand equity offers five great reminders about what drives iconic brands. Even if you don’t think your brand is iconic, you can learn from Yu’s wisdom.

  1. Uniqueness. “Iconic brands,” Yu writes, “have elements that differentiate them from the competition.”
  2. Familiarity. The more familiar your audience is with your brand, “the more they trust it.” Iconic brands “have earned an unusually high level of trust” because of their familiarity.
  3. Relevance. How well do our brands — in our case, our colleges and universities — relate to the needs, beliefs, etc., of our audiences?
  4. Quality. Too often in higher education, we equate quality with price. Ivy League is quality; community college is not. But as Yu explains, it doesn’t have to be that way. “Both BIC pens and Montblanc pens are iconic even though they are at opposite ends of the scale.”
  5. Popularity. “Iconic brands gain a following of passionate people.” Think Apple, Nike, Harley-Davidson and other brands that have build almost cult-like followings. “The more people who buy the brand within your community, the more desirable it becomes.”

So there you have them — the big five drivers of brand equity.

Take a look at these, and take a look at your institution. Think about your college or university or program in terms of its uniqueness, familiarity, relevance, quality and popularity. Maybe you’ll begin to uncover elements of your brand’s own iconicity.

Bonus content: Soon Yu on creating iconic advantage (video)

If you’ve got 5 minutes or so, I highly recommend watching this video.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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