Branding, Brand and Brand Management
Branding, Brand and Brand Management
Branding is assembling of various marketing mix medium into a whole so as to give an organization or a product an identity. It is nothing but capturing the minds of the customers with the name of the brand. Brand gives an image of an experienced, huge and reliable organization. It is all about capturing the niche market for the product / service of the organization and about creating a confidence in the current and prospective customers’ minds that the organization or the product is the unique solution to their problem. The aim of branding is to convey brand message vividly, create customer loyalty, persuade the buyer for the product, and establish an emotional connectivity with the customers. Branding forms customer perceptions about the product and raises customer expectations about the product. The primary aim of branding is to create differentiation with the competition.
Hislop defined branding in the year 2001 as ‘the process of creating a relationship or a connection between a company’s product and emotional perception of the customer for the purpose of generating segregation among competition and building loyalty among customers’. Kapferer and Keller have defined branding as a fulfillment in customer expectations and consistent customer satisfaction.
Branding can also be defined as ‘a seller’s promise to provide consistently a unique set of characteristics, advantages, and services to the buyers/consumers. It is a name, term, sign, symbol or a combination of all these planned to differentiate the goods/services of one seller or group of sellers from those of the competitors’.
Branding normally precedes and underlies any marketing effort. Branding is not push, but pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of the organization, the product, or the service. It is the communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.
If a brand results from a set of associations and perceptions in people’s mind, then branding is an attempt to harness, generate, influence and control these associations and perceptions to help the organization to perform better. Branding helps the organization to stand out from its competitors, adds value to its offer and helps it in engaging with its customers.
Branding is a way of clearly highlighting what makes the offer of the organization different to, and more desirable than the competitors. Effective branding elevates the level of a product or the organization amongst its rival products or organizations. Effective branding makes the product or the organization unique to the customer. Branding helps an organization to get benefitted enormously by making the product or the organization as distinctive, trusted, exciting and reliable in the eyes of the customer.
By branding an organization makes a promise that the product will perform as per customer’s expectations. It shapes customer’s expectations about the product. A brand gives particular information about the organization, good or service, differentiating it from others in marketplace. Brand carries an assurance about the characteristics that make the product or service unique. A strong brand is a means of making people aware of what the organization represents and what it is offering.
Branding makes customers committed to the organization’s business. A strong brand differentiates the products of the organization from the competitors. It gives a quality image to the business of the organization. Fig 1 covers some aspects of branding.
Fig 1 Aspects of branding
A brand is a mechanism for achieving competitive advantage for organizations, through differentiation. The attributes that differentiate a brand provide the customer with satisfaction and benefits for which they are willing to pay.
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies the seller’s product or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are different from products in a way that brands are ‘what the customers buy’, while products are ‘what the organizations make’. Brand is an accumulation of emotional and functional associations.
A brand connects four crucial elements in an organization. These are customers, employees, management and shareholders. Brand is nothing but an assortment of memories in customers mind. Brand represents values, ideas and even personality. It is a set of functional, emotional and rational associations and benefits which have occupied target market’s mind. Associations are nothing but the images and symbols associated with the brand or brand benefits. Benefits are the basis for purchase decision.
Brand means and signifies the following to the customers.
- Quality symbol
- Less search cost
- Source of product
- Delegating responsibility to the manufacturer of product
- Lower risk
- Deal or pact with the product manufacture
- Symbolic device
Brand means and signifies the following to the seller.
- Basis of competitive advantage
- Sign of quality to satisfied customer
- Way of bestowing products with unique associations
- Way of identification to easy handling
- Way of legal protection of products’ unique traits/features
- Means of financial returns
Brand name is one of the brand elements which help the customers to identify and differentiate one product from another. It should be chosen very carefully as it captures the key theme of a product in an efficient and economical manner. It can easily be noticed and its meaning can be stored and triggered in the memory instantly. Choice of a brand name requires a lot of research. Brand names are not necessarily associated with the product. In some instances, the organization name is used for all its products.
The attributes associated with a strong brand are given below.
- Relevancy – A strong brand must be relevant. It must meet customer’s expectations and should perform the way they want it to. A good job must be done to persuade customers to buy the product; otherwise in spite of the product organization’s being unique still the customer may not buy it.
- Consistency – A consistent brand signifies what the brand stands for and what builds customers trust in brand. A consistent brand is where the organization communicates message in a way that does not deviate from the core brand proposition.
- Proper positioning- A strong brand must be positioned so that it makes a place in target audience mind and the target audience prefer it over other brands.
- Sustainable- A strong brand makes an organization competitive. A sustainable brand drives the organization towards innovation and success.
- Credibility- A strong brand must do what it promises. The way the organization communicate its brand to the customers must be realistic. It must not exaggerate as customers want to believe in the promises made to them.
- Inspirational- A strong brand must inspire the category it is famous for.
- Uniqueness- A strong brand must be different and unique. It must set the organization apart from other competitors in market.
- Appealing- A strong brand must be attractive. Customers need to be attracted by the promises made by the organization and also by the value deliver.
The identity of a brand is an important aspect of a brand. For brand identity the organization must create a distinguished product with unique characteristics. This is the way the organization must identify itself with the product. It represents how the organization wants to be perceived in the market. The organization must the identity to the customers through its branding and marketing strategies. A brand is unique due to its identity. Brand identity includes many elements such as brand vision, brand culture, positioning, personality, relationships, and presentations.
In order to create a distinctive place in the market for the brand, a niche market is to be carefully chosen and a differential advantage is to be created in the mind of the customer. Brand positioning is a medium through which an organization can portray what the customers wants it to achieve for them. Brand positioning forms customer’s views and opinions. Brand positioning refers to ‘target customer’s reasons’ to buy the brand in preference to others. Brand positioning can be defined as an activity of creating a brand offer in such a manner that it occupies a distinctive place and value in the target customer’s mind.
Strong brands reduce customers’ perceived monetary, social and safety risks in buying goods/services. The customers can better imagine the intangible goods with the help of brand name. Strong brand organizations have a high market share. The brand must be given good support so that it can sustain itself in long run. It is essential to manage all brands and build brand equity over a period of time. Here comes importance and usefulness of brand management. Brand management helps in building a corporate image. A brand manager has to oversee overall brand performance. A successful brand can only be created if the brand management system is competent.
Brands operate in a market environment where differentiation is crucially important. In the product marketing, brands often provide the primary points of differentiation between competitive offerings, and as such they can be critical to the success of the organization. Hence, it is important that the brand management is approached strategically. Brand management aims to create an emotional connection between products, organization and its customers and constituents.
Brand management includes developing a promise, making that promise and maintaining it. It means defining the brand, positioning the brand, and delivering the brand. Branding makes customers committed to the business of the organization. A strong brand differentiates organization’s products from the competitors. It gives a quality image to your business.
Brand management begins with having a thorough knowledge of the term ‘brand’. It is a communication function that includes defining of the brand, analysis and planning on how that brand is positioned in the market, which target public the brand is targeted at, and maintaining a desired reputation of the brand. It is developing a good relationship with target publics. Brand management is nothing but an art of creating and sustaining the brand.
Brand management includes managing the tangible and intangible characteristics of brand. Tangible elements of brand management include the product itself, look, price, the packaging, etc. In case of service brands, the tangibles include the customer’s experience. The intangible elements are the experience that the consumer takes away from the brand, and also the relationship that they have with that brand. They also include emotional connections with the product or service.