A brand is the name of a product. It is the vision that drives the creation of products and services under the name. It plays a major role in modern society. In fact, it is everywhere. It penetrates all spheres of our life: economic, social, cultural, sporting, even religion. Every product or service gets associated with a brand name that helps the customers to differentiate it when making a purchase. Creating and nurturing a brand involves creation of value as perceived by consumers, creation of brand an association reflects the value created, adapting the brand associations to the changing environment in a contemporary and consistent manner. Branding is a dynamic process, involving several elements of marketing.
Although there has been growing recognition in the value of the brands, a number of developments have occurred in the recent years that have significantly complicated marketing practices and posed many challenges to brand managers. To overcome these challenges and to occupy the leadership status it is vital for the companies to build their Brand Equity.
HISTORY OF BRAND
Branding has been used since earliest times by producers to identify their products. According to Van den Heever(2000) the word brand comes from the old German word “brandr”, which means to burn. Branding has been from the earliest times associated with proclaiming ownership of property, and although the concept of branding has become considerably more complex in the last hundred years, the idea of ownership still exists.
According to Van den Heever(2000) Consumers accept or reject a brand for several reasons, some of them are perceived as quality, price and emotional benefits of the brand. An example, in liquor industry where certain loyal consumers will drink only a specific brand that suits their lifestyle and personality.
Brands are known as convenient way to distinguish one product from another. Keller(2003) states that organisations have come to the realization that one of their most valuable assets is the brand associated with their products or services. Brands have become sophisticated marketing tools, as well as having considerable monetary value in their own right. Brands provide functional, emotional and self expressive benefits and provide value to the consumer, as well as the reason for making one-brand choice over another.
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. Under trademark law, the seller is granted exclusive rights to the use of the brand name in perpetuity. Brands differ from other assets such as patents and copy rights, which have expiry dates.
A brand is a complex symbol that can convey up to six levels of meaning
- Attributes: A brand brings to mind certain attributes.
- Benefits: Attributes must be translated into functional and emotional benefits.
- Values: The brand also says something about the producer’s value.
- Culture: The brand may represent a certain culture
- Personality: The brand can project a certain personality.
- User: The brand suggests the kind of consumer who buys or uses the product.
Kotlet and keller(2006) acknowledge the American Marketing Association’s definitions of a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol, 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 that adds dimensions which differentiates it in some way from other products or services, designed to satisfy the same need.
Rosetti(2005) supports Kotler and Keller’s view regarding the linking of a brand to the tangibles of the brand. i.e., a brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of them , intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitors. A brand is therefore a product, but one that adds other dimensions that differentiate it in some way from other products designed to satisfy the same need.
According to Keller(2003), the key to creating a brand is to be able to choose a name, logo, symbol, package, design or other attributes that identify a product and distinguish it from others. The different elements of a brand that identify and differentiate it can be called as brand elements.
According to Van den Heever(2000) , brand is not a name, logo, sign, symbol, advertisement or spokesperson. A brand is everything that an organization wants people, especially its target markets, to feel and believe about its product and service.
Nandan(2004) elaborates on the intangible aspects of a brand, namely that brands are intangible assets that can build shareholder-value. A Brand is an asset that has no physical existence and the value of which cannot be determined exactly unless it becomes the subject of a specific business transaction of sale or acquisition.
Duncan(2005) defines a brand as a mixture of tangible and intangible attributes, symbolized in a trademark, which if properly managed, creates influence and generates value, and also defines a brand from a marketing communication perspective as a perception resulting from experiences with the brand.
In conclusion, a brand can be defined as a product or service differentiated by its position relating to the competition. Primarily, a brand acts as a means of identification and it is a way for the consumer to identify one product from another similar products. Consumers can base their buying decisions on their relationship with the brand and taking past experience with the brand into consideration. It also ensures that a consumer buys a product of consistent quality. A brand then acts as a message of everything the manufacturer has promised about the brand, how it was produced and how it satisfies the need.
DIFFERENT ROLES OF BRAND
Keller(203) has listed different roles of brands from a consumer’s point of view. The roles are,
- Identification of source of product
- Assignment of responsibility to product maker
- Risk reducer
- Promise, bond or pact with maker of product
- Symbolic device
- Signal of quality
Brands play several important roles from a consumer’s point of view and identify the source of product and allow consumers to assign responsibility to a particular manufacturer. As a result of past experience it simplifies the buying decisions.
If consumers recognized and had prior experience with the brand, it lowers search costs based on the assumption of the promise, bond or pact with the producer is experience of the product. Brands can also serve as a symbolic device, allowing consumers to project their self-image. Brands are a signal of quality and buying decisions can be based on the perception of quality alone.
BRANDS AND PRODUCTS
According to Kotler and Keller(2006) a product is more than a tangible offering. A product is anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy a want or need. Products that are marketed include physical goods, services, experiences, events, persons, places, properties, organizations, information and ideas.
It is important to differentiate a brand from a product. A product is anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that might satisfy a need or want. A product might be a physically good in service, retail store, person, organization or idea. According to Kotler and Gertner(2002), brands differentiate products and represent a promise of value. Brands incite beliefs, evoke emotions and prompt behaviors. Kotler and Keller(2006) define five levels of a product:
- The core benefit level is the fundamental need or want that will satisfy the customer by consuming the product or service.
- The generic product level is a basic version of the product containing only those attributes or characteristics absolutely necessary for its functioning but with no distinguishing features.
- The expected product level is a set of attributes or characteristics that buyers normally expect and agree to, when they purchase a product.
- The augmented product level includes additional product attributes, benefits, or related services that distinguish the product from competitors.
- The potential product level includes all of the augmentations and transformations that a product might ultimately undergo in the future.
BRANDS AND BRANDING
Brands and branding are often used as interchangeable concepts. According to Kotler and Keller(2006), a brand is a perceptual entity that is rooted in reality but reflects perceptions of consumers. Branding is endowing products and services with brand equity and is about creating differences among other brands. Branding involves creating mental structures by helping consumers to organize their knowledge about products in a way that clarifies their decision-making.
Hislop(2001) provides a clear definition of brands and branding. A brand is a distinguishing name or symbol designed to identify the origins of a product or service from the competitors and provide similar products. Branding, on the other hand, is the process of creating an association with a symbol, object, emotion, perception, product or company with the goal of driving loyalty and creating differentiation.
Keller(2003) creates a distinction between the concepts brand and branding by stating that to brand a product, it is Necessary to teach consumers ‘who’ the product is by giving it a name and using other brand elements to identify it. To brand a product, it is necessary to give meaning to the brand. Branding involves the creation of mental structures and helping consumers to organize their knowledge about the brand in a way that clarifies their decision-making. According to Tybout and Calkins(2005), branding is more than attaching a name to an offering. Branding is organizing the consumer’s thoughts about the delivery, fulfilling of experience and level performance of the brand.
In conclusion, branding products is important as it creates long-term consumer loyalty and brand equity. Brands differentiate a product, pre-sell a product and guarantee the product. Branding is making it relevant to a target market and giving it life and personality to build brand equity.
CORE ELEMENTS OF BRANDING
Branding is an element of an overall marketing and outreach strategy. Developing and building a brand depends on multiple variables such as type of services, products, type of industry, target population, competitive or similar services and private or public sector. Effective brands are composed of core elements and have unique aspects that make them successful. The following are the few qualities of a successful brand adapted from William Arruda’s 10 Cs of Branding.
Qualities of a successful brand
|Competent||A product or service must fulfill its promise and ensure the delivery of high-quality services aligned with the company/organization’ s vision, and delivered with genuine commitment to customer satisfaction.|
|Clear||A strong brand is clear about what it is and what it is not.|
|Compelling||A brand is appropriate for and interesting to its target audience. If not, it is ineffective and useless.|
|Consistent||Brands are always what they say and who they are to bolster their brand attributes.|
|Constant||Brands are always visible to their customers and prospects.|
|Connected||A brand connects to appropriate communities, affiliations, and partnerships. Establishing and maintaining a network of partners, intermediaries, and customers is important. Organizations should develop relationships that can reinforce their brand.|
|Committed||Brands are not a one-time event; it is not about fads, but built over time and requires steadfast commitments to ensure long lasting success. Brands build value over time through consistently living the brand promise.|
|Current||A brand is based on current needs with room to meet new and/ or different needs in future.|
Brand is the heart of business and advertising. A brand is having a peculiar characteristic i.e., either it grows and adapts to changing world or it dies. The essence of every brand is its uniqueness. Some special imitable quality which creates and wins, then establishes. A marketer can build up a bright image of his enterprise around the brand. Repeat sales are stimulated and product substitution by competitors becomes difficult. If a firm has one or more lines of branded goods, it can easily add a new item to its list and the new item can enjoy all the advantages of branding immediately.
Benefits of Branding
Kotler and Keller(2006) explain that although competitors may easily duplicate the manufacturing processes and product designs, they cannot easily match lasting impressions in the minds of individuals from years of marketing activities and product experience. Branding adds value to the product. For example, Coca-Cola as a product can be easily duplicated as evident in the array of other colas on the market. Despite the fact that there are many other products to choose from consumers are loyal to purchase their preferred brand as part of a consumer lifestyle.
Brand management includes the specification and communication of a brand that reflect the local firm’s strategy and its portfolio of resources and capabilities. It involves projection through the definition of brand elements and marketing programmes. It is dynamic in a way of establishing and configuring the consumer based community, management of customer diversity and co-creating personalised experience (Fournier 1998, Prahlad and Ramasamy 2000)
The current approach to branding is multi-dimensional and comprises of functional, emotional, relational and strategic dimensions. The brand today provides added value to a product through higher brand equity. Brand equity increases the likelihood that consumers will recognize the firms’ product when they make purchase decision.
An analysis of company strategies reveals six models in the management of Brand product (or service) relationship. Each model denotes a certain role for the brand, its status as well as its relationship (Nominal and / or visual) with the products which the brand encompasses.
- the product brand – involves the assignment of a particular name to one product
- the line brand – responds to the concern of offering one coherent response under a single name by proposing many complementary products. This goes from variations of the offer to the specific effect.
- the range brand – bestows a single brand name and promotes through a single promise a range a products belonging to the same area of competence.
- the umbrella brand – has a single name covering different products offered by a company. Each one has its own advertising and develops its own communication.
- the source brand – is identical to umbrella except one key point that the products have their own brand names. They are no longer called by one generic name.
- the endorsing brand- gives its approval to a wide diversity of products grouped under product brands, line brands or range brands.
For citing this article, use:
- Muthukumar, S. (2017). Brand equity and customer retention_A study with reference to branded readymade Garments.