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Brand

A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes products and services from competitive offerings. A brand represents the consumers' experience with an organization, product, or service.

Strength of brand has become increasingly important to our culture and economy. Just as consumer behavior adapts to recession or depressionary times, brand managers dynamically adapt to market conditions. Nimble brand management, re-positioning, sub-branding, and a variety of other strategies are all critical to brand survival during difficult economic times.

Concepts
Some people distinguish the psychological aspect of a brand from the experiential aspect. The experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand and is known as the brand experience. The psychological aspect, sometimes referred to as the brand image, is a symbolic construct created within the minds of people and consists of all the information and expectations associated with a product or service.

People engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique. A brand is therefore one of the most valuable elements in an advertising theme, as it demonstrates what the brand owner is able to offer in the marketplace. The art of creating and maintaining a brand is called brand management.

Careful brand management, supported by a cleverly crafted advertising campaign, can be highly successful in convincing consumers to pay remarkably high prices for products which are inherently extremely cheap to make. This concept, known as creating value, essentially consists of manipulating the projected image of the product so that that the consumer sees the product as being worth the amount that the advertiser wants him/her to see, rather than a more logical valuation that comprises an aggregate of the cost of raw materials, plus the cost of manufacture, plus the cost of distribution. Modern value-creation branding-and-advertising campaigns are highly successful at inducing consumers to pay, for example, 50 dollars for a T-shirt that cost a mere 50 cents to make, or 5 dollars for a box of breakfast cereal that contains a few cents' worth of wheat.

A brand which is widely known in the marketplace acquires brand recognition. When brand recognition builds up to a point where a brand enjoys a critical mass of positive sentiment in the marketplace, it is said to have achieved brand franchise. One goal in brand recognition is the identification of a brand without the name of the company present. For example, Disney has been successful at branding with their particular script font (originally created for Walt Disney's "signature" logo), which it used in the logo for go.com.

Consumers may look on branding as an important value added aspect of products or services, as it often serves to denote a certain attractive quality or characteristic. From the perspective of brand owners, branded products or services also command higher prices. Where two products resemble each other, but one of the products has no associated branding (such as a generic, store-branded product), people may often select the more expensive branded product on the basis of the quality of the brand or the reputation of the brand owner.

Brand name
The brand name is often used interchangeably within "brand", although it is more correctly used to specifically denote written or spoken linguistic elements of any product. In this context a "brand name" constitutes a type of trademark, if the brand name exclusively identifies the brand owner as the commercial source of products or services. A brand owner may seek to protect proprietary rights in relation to a brand name through trademark registration. Advertising spokespersons have also become part of some brands, for example: Mr. Whipple of Charmin toilet tissue and Tony the Tiger of Kellogg's.

The act of associating a product or service with a brand has become part of pop culture. Most products have some kind of brand identity, from common table salt to designer

Brand identity
How the brand owner wants the consumer to perceive the brand - and by extension the branded company, organization, product or service. The brand owner will seek to bridge the gap between the brand image and the brand identity. Brand identity is fundamental to consumer recognition and symbolizes the brand's differentiation from competitors.

Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty, in marketing, consists of a consumer's commitment to repurchase the brand and can be demonstrated by repeated buying of a product or service or other positive behaviors such as word of mouth advocacy. True brand loyalty implies that the consumer is willing, at least on occasion, to put aside their own desires in the interest of the brand. Brand loyalty has been proclaimed by some to be the ultimate goal of marketing.

Brand loyalty is more than simple repurchasing, however. Customers may repurchase a brand due to situational constraints, a lack of viable alternatives, or out of convenience. Such loyalty is referred to as "spurious loyalty". True brand loyalty exists when customers have a high relative attitude toward the brand which is then exhibited through repurchase behavior. This type of loyalty can be a great asset to the firm: customers are willing to pay higher prices, they may cost less to serve, and can bring new customers to the firm. For example, if Joe has brand loyalty to Company A he will purchase Company A's products even if Company B's are cheaper and/or of a higher quality.

An example of a major brand loyalty program that extended for several years and spread worldwide is Pepsi Stuff. Perhaps the most significant contemporary example of brand loyalty is the fervent devotion of many Mac users to the Apple company and its products.

From the point of view of many marketers, loyalty to the brand - in terms of consumer usage - is a key factor:

  • 1 Usage rate
  • 2 Loyalty
  • 3 Factors Influencing Brand Loyalty
  • 4 Industrial Markets
  • 5 Portfolios of Brands
  • 6 Market Inertia
  • 7 Examples of Brand Loyalty Promotions

Principles
A good brand name should:

  • be protected (or at least protectable) under trademark law
  • be easy to pronounce
  • be easy to remember
  • be easy to recognize
  • be easy to translate into all languages in the markets where the brand will be used
  • attract attention
  • suggest product benefits (e.g.: Easy-Off) or suggest usage (note the tradeoff with strong trademark protection)
  • suggest the company or product image
  • distinguish the product's positioning relative to the competition.
  • be attractive
  • stand out among a group of other brands

Challenges
There are several challenges associated with setting objectives for a brand or product category.

  • Brand managers sometimes limit themselves to setting financial and market performance objectives. They may not question strategic objectives if they feel this is the responsibility of senior management.
  • Most product level or brand managers limit themselves to setting short-term objectives because their compensation packages are designed to reward short-term behavior. Short-term objectives should be seen as milestones towards long-term objectives.
  • Often product level managers are not given enough information to construct strategic objectives.
  • It is sometimes difficult to translate corporate level objectives into brand- or product-level objectives. Changes in shareholders' equity are easy for a company to calculate. It is not so easy to calculate the change in shareholders' equity that can be attributed to a product or category. More complex metrics like changes in the net present value of shareholders' equity are even more difficult for the product manager to assess.
  • In a diversified company, the objectives of some brands may conflict with those of other brands. Or worse, corporate objectives may conflict with the specific needs of your brand. This is particularly true in regard to the trade-off between stability and riskiness. Corporate objectives must be broad enough that brands with high-risk products are not constrained by objectives set with cash cows in mind (see B.C.G. Analysis). The brand manager also needs to know senior management's harvesting strategy. If corporate management intends to invest in brand equity and take a long-term position in the market (i.e. penetration and growth strategy), it would be a mistake for the product manager to use short-term cash flow objectives (ie. price skimming strategy). Only when these conflicts and tradeoffs are made explicit, is it possible for all levels of objectives to fit together in a coherent and mutually supportive manner.
  • Brand managers sometimes set objectives that optimize the performance of their unit rather than optimize overall corporate performance. This is particularly true where compensation is based primarily on unit performance. Managers tend to ignore potential synergies and inter-unit joint processes.
  • Brands are sometimes criticized within social media web sites and this must be monitored and managed (if possible).

Brand equity

Brand equity refers to the marketing effects or outcomes that accrue to a product with its brand name compared with those that would accrue if the same product did not have the brand name. And, at the root of these marketing effects is consumers' knowledge. In other words, consumers' knowledge about a brand makes consumers respond differently to the marketing of the brand. The study of brand equity is increasingly popular as some marketing researchers have concluded that brands are one of the most valuable assets that a company has.

Measurement

There are many ways to measure a brand. Some measurements approaches are at the firm level, some at the product level, and still others are at the consumer level.

Firm Level: Firm level approaches measure the brand as a financial asset. In short, a calculation is made regarding how much the brand is worth as an intangible asset. For example, if you were to take the value of the firm, as derived by its market capitalization - and then subtract tangible assets and "measurable" intangible assets- the residual would be the brand equity. One high profile firm level approach is by the consulting firm Interbrand. To do its calculation, Interbrand estimates brand value on the basis of projected profits discounted to a present value. The discount rate is a subjective rate determined by Interbrand and Wall Street equity specialists and reflects the risk profile, market leadership, stability and global reach of the brand.

Product Level: The classic product level brand measurement example is to compare the price of a no-name or private label product to an "equivalent" branded product. The difference in price, assuming all things equal, is due to the brand. More recently a revenue premium approach has been advocated.

Consumer Level: This approach seeks to map the mind of the consumer to find out what associations with the brand that the consumer has. This approach seeks to measure the awareness (recall and recognition) and brand image (the overall associations that the brand has). Free association tests and projective techniques are commonly used to uncover the tangible and intangible attributes, attitudes, and intentions about a brand. Brands with high levels of awareness and strong, favorable and unique associations are high equity brands.

Any of these calculation are at best approximations. A more complete understanding of the brand can occur if multiple measures are used.

Positive Equity Only?

An interesting question is raised- can brands have negative brand equity? From one perspective, brand equity cannot be negative. Positive brand equity is created by effective marketing including via advertising, PR and promotion. A second perspective is that negative equity can exist. Looking at a political "brand" example, the "Democrat" brand may be negative to a Republican, and vice versa.

The greater a company's brand equity, the greater the probability that the company will use a family branding strategy rather than an individual branding strategy. This is because family branding allows them to leverage the equity accumulated in the core brand. Aspects of brand equity includes: brand loyalty, awareness, association, and perception of quality.

Examples

In the early 2000s in North America, the Ford Motor Company made a strategic decision to brand all new or redesigned cars with names starting with "F". This aligned with the previous tradition of naming all sport utility vehicles since the Ford Explorer with the letter "E". The Toronto Star quoted an analyst who warned that changing the name of the well known Windstar to the Freestar would cause confusion and discard brand equity built up, while a marketing manager believed that a name change would highlight the new redesign. The aging Taurus, which became one of the most significant cars in American auto history would be abandoned in favor of three entirely new names, all starting with "F", the Five Hundred, Freestar and Fusion. By 2007, the Freestar was discontinued without a replacement. The Five Hundred name was thrown out and Taurus was brought back for the next generation of that car in a surprise move by Alan Mulally. "Five Hundred" was recognized by less than half of most people, but an overwhelming majority was familiar with the "Ford Taurus".

Source: This information was compiled on Wikipedia and is presented largely unedited and without bias. This article may contain original research or unverified claims.

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