Many products are so similar to other manufacturer's products that consumers are entirely indifferent as to which one they will buy. For example, petrol is much the same whether it is sold by Shell, Esso, BP, Statoil, Elf or Repsol: such products are called commodity products because they are homogeneous commodities rather than distinct products with different benefits from the others on offer. At first sight, water would come into the category of a commodity product. Yet any supermarket has a range of bottled waters, each with its own formulation and brand name, and each with its loyal consumers. In these cases the original commodity product (water) has been converted into a brand. Branding is a process of adding value to the product by use of its packaging, brand name, promotion and position in the minds of the consumers. DeChernatony and McDonald21 offer the following definition of brand; A successful brand is an identifiable product, service, person or place, augmented in such a way that the buyer or user perceives relevant, unique added values which match their needs most closely. Furthermore, its success results from being able to sustain those added values in the face of competition. This definition emphasises the increased value that accrues to the consumer by buying the established brand rather than a generic or commodity product. The values that are added may be in the area of reassurance of the brand’s quality, they may be in the area of status (where the brand’s image carries over to the consumer), or they may be in the area of convenience (making search behaviour easier). Commodity products tend to be undifferentiated in price (for example, petrol tends to be much the same price in petrol stations within a given geographical area. A differential of even 10% would be very noticeable). They also tend to have a low degree of differentiation in the product characteristics and the image. Branded goods, on the other hand, score high on both factors; since they command a premium price, this is likely to lead to an increased profit, which strengthens the case for developing a strong brand.
Branding is a part of Product Mix. Let us go through what product mix is.
Product Mix is one of the important elements of the marketing mix. All the activities revolve around it. It is a center of marketing activity. Product mix refers to the entire products which are offered for sale.
Product Mix of any company has four dimensions:
Without a product, other mix of the marketing activity is not possible. We can also say that product mix refers to the decisions we have to make regarding a product, decisions like Packaging, Branding, Tagline etc.
Branding is nothing but creating a unique name and image of the product in the eyes of the consumers’ mind through various promotion techniques. Branding is done to make people recognize the product identified with a certain service or product when there are companies producing the same product and service. Advertising professionals work on branding not just to establish brand recognition but also to build good reputation in the market. It is the deciding factor that determines the product sales.
Strong brand image ensures the people that it can be trusted hence they rely on this brand.
According to Philip Kotler, ‘brand is defined as a name, term, sign or symbol that identifies the maker or seller of the product.‘
Philip Kotler is trying to say that brand is just nothing but a name, term or sign symbol used by the company to increase the sales of the company. It makes an impression on the mind of the customer as whenever they hear the name or see the symbol, company’s seller image comes into the mind.
What your customers say about your brand is the reality. It’s the impression that pops into their minds when they hear your business name.
Branding often takes the form of a symbol. We call it logo. Examples- Nike that uses swoosh, Apple used by the Apple Company. Logo appears on the product and also used in the advertising campaign of the company. Most successful symbols are those which allow the customer to identify the product even before the name is visible.
Like all other branding tools, slogan is also one of the effective tools of branding. Slogans are successfully used in those industries where a company wants to spread a message to the customer. It is generally found in the insurance industry where they want customers to trust. Example "Nationwide is on your side," "You're in good hands with Allstate" and "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." It can also be used with the logo of the company. As with well-known logos, successful slogans become ingrained in the minds of consumers and may remain there for as long as the company stays in business.
User experience can also be used as a technique for branding. For example, in many cosmetic ads, company uses the experience of the general public to show the customer that whatever they are providing is of good quality at lower prices. Company uses elements of humor in different advertisements which not makes it enjoyable for the customer but also creates an impression.
There are several advantages of branding to the Consumers:
a) Easily Identifiable: Consumers can easily identify the product by branding. For example- When a person will see Apple logo on any product or advertisement, he will definitely think that the company apple has manufactured the product.
b) Brand creates prestige: Generally higher-class society people judge a product by its brand. Consumers will buy iPhone even when it is giving fewer features than any other phone. It is just because Apple Company has created an image in the eyes of the customers.
c) Branding helps the consumer in knowing the quality, features and price of the product beforehand. It will help the customers to trust the brand. For example- when Loreal Company shows advertisement which includes experience of use, it creates an image of a trusted company in the mind of the consumer. So, whenever he will go to buy a cosmetic, he will purchase the product of Loreal.
d) Attracts customers: Cool logos, slogans or name of the product attracts the customers a lot, which will facilitate quick decision making for the customers.
a) Premium price- Once a brand name is established in the public, a company can charge high price for the product. Consumers also won’t hesitate to buy the product because that image of brand is already made its way into their mind.
b) Once a brand name is established, a company can go for line extension. For example- Earlier, Maruti Suzuki used to produce cars for small family only but once it created a brand image in the public, it has come up with Sedans and now SUV too.
a) Cost of Branding: Branding is a costly affair. It is not a simple process. Brands are not created overnight and companies have to involve huge cost on this advertising and publicity. Branding has to go hand in hand with advertising. Frequent advertising of the brand should be done to create an impression in the mind of the customer. Occasional advertisement would not help the company in creating a successful brand image.
b) Every individual’s perspective is different. What one consumer think is not necessary that the other will think in the same way. So, perception of the consumer of the brand image becomes an important part of the branding. Once it is wrongly perceived, it creates a bad image in the eyes of the consumers and company’s whole process of branding will be failed.
c) Another disadvantage of creating a brand is that company loses the flexibility because the consumer tends to associate a brand with a particular product only. And if the company sells other product then it is not sure that the product will perform equally well in the market.
d) Branding takes time: Branding takes time to establish. It is not so that you have placed an ad on the television and customers will remember your brand. It usually takes four-five years for a company to establish the brand in the mind of the customers.
These are decisions related to the brand an organization is building or promoting. There are four major decisions to be made-
It is concerned with how you want the customers to perceive your brand. Brand can be positioned in three ways:
It is a very difficult task for the company. Brand name influences the mind of the customer a lot. So, it is always a tricky decision, you could pass or even fail sometime. A brand name should be catchy, easy to remember and also different from others. For example- Google, Yahoo, Amazon. Also, company should make sure that it does not hurt the sentiments of the customer. For the same reason, companies focus much on the real meaning of the name instead of going for catchy and unique name. Because it is always better to go with simple and easy thing rather than going for something which will not benefit the organization.
There are four types of Brand Sponsorship and they are:
i) Manufacturer’s Sponsorship: Manufacturing sponsorship refers to marketing your own output. For example- LG Company will sell its product in the name of their company. LG TV, LG Washing Machines, LG Microwave etc. but when they start manufacturing the product to be sold to reseller, then sellers would be using private brand.
ii) Private Brand: Trend has changed significantly. Private brands have become bigger in the past year. Reason for changing is the behavior of the customer. Now they have actually become less brand-conscious and more practical. For example- Grocery Stores, Shopping Marts etc.
iii) Licensed Brand: These are the company which uses a name or symbol, which is not created by a single manufacturer. For example- Hello Kitty, Disney is some examples.
iv) Co-Branding: Co-branding means collaborating two brands together for a single product. For example- Nestle’s coffee machines.
Four different sectors are covered under brand development.
i) Line extension- Line extension refers to using up of same brand name for addition in a product. For example- There are different types of burgers in MacDonald’s. So, the product is same i.e. burger but there is a variety of burgers which is promoted in the same brand name.
ii) Multi Brand- Two or more brands are marketed by the same firm.
iii) New Brand- Any new brand would fall under this segment. But even old manufacturers and business could also use this approach if they think that their new product does not fit into the category of old ones.
Brand Equity refers to the value of a well-known brand name. It is based on the idea that it can generate more revenues for the same because of the brand recognition in the market. It can be created by selecting the best brand name for the product. They can make them memorable, short and easy to remember.
It has three basic components:
a) Consumer Perception- Brand equity of the company is built by the perception of the consumer. What consumers actually think about the brand will be the most important thing to know for the organization, because eventually what matters is customer satisfaction and if they aren’t satisfied with any of the element, it will prove to be a bad marketing strategy for the company and company will fail.
b) Positive and Negative effects- Consumer’s perception will result in either positive or negative effects of the company. If it is positive, it will benefit the company and if the opposite happens, it will fail to make mark in the industry.
c) Resulting Value- These effects will turn into tangible or intangible value. If the effect is positive, company can either have an increase in the profit or increase in the goodwill of the firm. If the effect is negative, opposite may happen.
Generally, company can make use of the brand equity at the time of product expansion. If the brand equity is positive, then the company would assume that if they introduce new product in the market with the same brand name, it would help in creating the market for the new product also. For example- Coca Cola is a famous brand in the market of soft drink, so if they introduce juices in the name of Coca Cola, then the market for juice will not be affected by the brand name instead it will increase the sales of the company.
According to Arnold, “The objective of strategy is a sustainable competitive advantage, which may come from any part of the organization’s operation. The market is the judge of this advantage. Brand strategy is the process whereby the offer is positioned in the consumer’s mind to produce a perception of advantage.”
Strategy is generally a process starting from planning to achievement of goals. It is a formal plan used by the company to create an image in the eyes of the potential customers.
Skoda is an automobile brand and it had a good reputation in the West and East Europe, Skoda became a laughing stock in the West when they were introduced over 40 years ago.
But when Volkswagon bought stake in Skoda, in 1991, careful marketing strategy begins to reposition the negative impact of the strategies of Skoda. First the product was dramatically improved and launches of the Felicia and the Octavia in 1994 and 1998 were greeted with rave reviews. But the results were disappointing: whilst awareness rose briefly, sales were unimpressive.
Launch was unsuccessful as Skoda had a bad recognition in the market and it proved out to be that product reinvention is not just enough.
The most basic challenge was to persuade people that a Skoda wasn’t a joke. The Fabia in 2000 was launched with more positive press comments and was named ‘Car of the Year’ but the perception of the average buyer was that it was still extremely embarrassing to be seen driving a Skoda.
But with half the budget of the Octavia launch, Skoda’s new marketing agency Fallon set specific objectives – to increase Skoda sales, to make more people consider buying a Skoda, and to improve the image of the Skoda brand. The most startling obstacle to this was the statistic that 60% of people would ‘definitely not consider’ buying a Skoda.
The strategy was to acknowledge the problem existed, and confront it head-on with a great car. The execution of this was a provocative approach that showed people making fools of them by assuming that because the car was so good, it couldn’t be a Skoda. This idea was manipulated carefully to ensure that people were in on the joke, subtly moving them onto Skoda’s side with the tagline, ‘It’s a Skoda. Honest.’
The advertising was almost twice as effective in getting noticed as the average car ad. Skoda sales grew by 34%, topping 30,000, the company had a waiting list for the first time and Skoda achieved a psychologically important 1% market share of new cars sold in the UK. The market share target has now been revised to 2% by 2004. Before the campaign, 47% of interviewees saw Skoda as cars you couldn’t take seriously. After the campaign, this had reduced to 32%. The campaign recognized that a great product alone is not enough. It employed the basic marketing tenet of delivering value to customers and showed the value of integration at a strategic level (in this case, advertising and PR). Recognizing that negativity towards Skoda could be a positive force if handled correctly was an important lesson.
[Main source: The Death of the Skoda Joke, a report by Fallon, January 2001]
So as all the other elements of the marketing, Branding is also one major element which impacts the mind of the consumer. It is one of those tools which can help the company in growing rapidly. It not just helps the company but also the new product which a company will deliver under the same name. So, company should spend as much as time they can to make branding more effective and they should also make sure of that the company has spent wisely.
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