Brand equity is that incremental value that accrues to a product when it is branded. Simple brand awareness is one source of brand equity. If you can get your name to pop up in people’s minds when they think of the product category, you’ve won a big part of the battle.
[There are] two other sources of brand equity: a consumer’s perception that a brand is better than it really is (“attribute-based” equity), and nonattribute-based equity, for instance, a consumer’s preference for a brand based on the cachet of owning it. If you’re successful in these three aspects, an added benefit is that stores will feel a customer pull to carry your product, and so your availability and hence sales will increase.
Simple awareness ”getting the brand’s name to pop up in consumers’ minds”generates the largest return, followed by consumers’ responding to the cachet of owning the brand (nonattribute-based equity). Attribute-based equity trails in third place. This means that a brand’s image provides a stronger incentive for buying even than the perception that it is a better product. But greater awareness of your brand is the major component driving brand equity.
These are some extracts out of an interesting study with the title Calculating the Dollar Value of Brand Equity made by V.Seenu Srinivasan Professor of Management at Stanford Graduate School of Business along with Chan Su Park of Korea University Business School and Dae Ryun Chang Yonsei Business School. Read more about the study here.