One of the most valuable intangible assets of a firm is its brands, and it is incumbent on marketing to properly manage their value. Building a strong brand is both an art and a science. It requires careful planning, a deep long-term commitment, and creatively designed and executed marketing. A strong brand commands intense consumer loyalty- at its heart is a great product or service.
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.” A brand is thus a product or service whose dimensions differentiate it in some way from other products or services designed to satisfy the same need. These differences may be functional, rational, or tangible – related to product performance of the brand. They may also be more symbolic, emotional, or intangible – related to what the brand represents or means in a more abstract sense.
The role of brands
Brands identify the source of the maker of a product and allow consumers – either individuals or organizations – to assign responsibility for its performance to a particular manufacturer or distributor
Brands also perform valuable functions for the firms. First, they simplify product handling or tracing.
Brands help to organize inventory and accounting records.
A brand also offers the firm legal protection for unique features or aspects of the product.
To firms, brands represent enormously valuable pieces of legal property that can influence consumer behaviors, be bought and sold, and provide their owner the security of sustained future revenue.
For branding strategies to be successful and brand value to be created, consumers must be convinced there are meaningful differences among brands in the product or service category. Brand differences often relate to attributes or benefits of the product itself.
Defining Brand Equity
Brand equity is the added value endowed on products and services. It may be reflected in the way consumers think, feel, and act with respect to the brand, as well as in the prices,
market share, and profitability the brand commands.
Building Brand Equity
Marketers build brand equity by creating the right brand knowledge structures with the right consumers. This process depends on all brands related contacts – whether marketer initiated or not.
Brand equity drivers
1. The initial choices for the brand elements or identities making up the brand (brand names, URLs, logos, symbols, characters, spokespeople, slogans, jingles, packages, and signage).
2. The product and service and all accompanying marketing activities and supporting marketing programs.
3. Other associations indirectly transferred to the brand by linking it to some other entity ( a person, place or thing)
Choosing Brand Elements
Brand elements are devices which can be trademarked, that identify and differentiate the brand.
Brand element choice criteria
There are six criteria for choosing brand elements.
1. Memorable: How easily do customers recall and recognize the brand element. For it to be memorable, it must be short.
2. Meaningful: Is the brand element credible? Does it suggest the corresponding category and a product ingredient or the type of person who might use the brand?
3. Likable: How appealing is the brand element? A brand element must be welcomed and preferred.
4. Transferable: Can the brand element introduce new products in the same or different category? Does it add to brand equity across geographic boundaries and
5. Adaptable: How adaptable and updating is the brand element?
6. Protectable: How legally protected is the brand element? How competitively protected?
Marketers must now “walk the walk” to deliver the brand promise. They must adopt an internal perspective to be sure employees and marketing partners appreciate and
understand basic branding notions and how they can help – or hurt – brand equity. Internal branding consists of activities and processes that help inform and inspire employees about brands. Holistic marketers must go even further to train and encourage distributors and dealers to serve their customers well. Poorly trained dealers can ruin the best efforts to build a strong image. Brand bonding occurs when customers experience the company as delivering on its brand promise. All the customers’ contacts with company employees and communications must be positive. The brand promise will not be delivered unless everyone in the company lives the brand. When employees care about and believe in the brand, they are motivated to work harder and feel greater loyalty to the firm.
Important principles for internal branding
1. Choose the right moment. Turning points are ideal opportunities to capture employees’ attention and imagination.
2. Link internal and external marketing. Internal and external messages must match
3. Bring the brand alive for employees. Internal communications should be informative, motivating and energizing.