Introduction to Marketing – Part Six: Branding Strategy
Branding is a large part of marketing as it encompasses so many things. A brand is a name, term, symbol, design or a combination of these used by an organisation to identify it as unique from others. It acts as an identity and signal, communicating many messages to the market. Position comes from the way the market views and connects with a brand. The strength of this bond and the value that customers place on a brand is known as brand equity.
A brand/label name is the part of a brand than can be spoken or written, made up of words, letters and/or numbers. Brand elements are all of the central components that make up a brand, such as the name, design, slogan, and so on.
Secondary associations in regards to a label are all the related elements, such as celebrity endorsements and product reviews.
A trademark, commonly associated with a label, is the legal registration and recognition of an entire brand by an organisation that prevents the incorrect or unauthorised replication or utilisation of it. A service mark is the same as a trademark, however specifically refers to a service offering.
As mentioned above, the value customers place in a brand is known as a measure of brand equity. This value grows in stages:
(1) Salience: this is general awareness of a label by the market, and is part of a general identity. The marketing strategy at this level is focused on determining who the brand is.
(2) Imagery and performance are the visual association and product behaviour of a brand that communicate the features of what a label is to the market. At this level, the marketing strategy is focused on the meaning of the brand and what it is.
(3) Feelings and judgements refer to the critical analysis and emotional connections that label has with the market, which communicate the personality of the label. At this point, marketing strategy is focused on response and what it is about the label that customers find appealing.
(4) The pinnacle of brand equity is known as brand resonance. At this point, the label has a relationship with the customer and spurs a certain behaviour in response to the label. Marketing strategy here is about fostering brand loyalty by focusing on what the label is worth to a customer.
There are two main approaches to developing a brand. An organisation can utilise a high budget and spend a lot of money to heavily communicate messages and increase awareness, or approach with a low budget, and instead, rely on other communication, such as word-of-mouth and very obvious brand names.
Depending on the approach above, the brand name can line on a spectrum from:
(1) Fictitious- such as Sony or Apple. The name is so obscure that it requires specifically teaching the market about what the product behind the label is or does.
(2) Associative- names that allude slightly to their product’s function, but are conjured up on top.
(3) Suggestive- label names that are semi-descriptive but a slight play on words.
(4) Descriptive- such as Quick Copy or Pizza Hut. These names are more obvious
Obviously, the more fictitious end of the spectrum has the advantage of being unique and therefore easier to legally protect, however an organisation much teach the market about themselves (which may not always be a negative).
The descriptive side offers a far more descriptive and obvious name that signal the right kind of image when a customer hears it, however because they are so run-of-the-mill, it can be difficult to be unique and tricky to legally protect.
The goal of brand development is to increase brand equity so that the market pays attention and values a brand enough to generate popularity and sales. A good brand is strong, favourable, compatible with the product, unique and memorable.
A logo is the visual brand element or a brand, and can either be used with or without the name, depending on the knowledge of the target market. Logos can enhance or hinder and image, which is why it’s important for an organisation to ensure it matches the brand well.
There are several other brand elements that partner with a brand and impact on brand image and brand equity. These can be secondary associations, and include:
(1) The organisation itself and its branding (such as Nestle’s Purina pet care sub-brand)
(2) The country of origin and its connotations (such as Italian wine or Swiss watches)
(3) Distribution channels (sold in nice stores, or particular outlets)
(4) Co-branding with other brands
(5) Characters (licencing and mascots)
(6) Celebrity endorsements
(7) Events and sponsorship associations
(8) Third-party sources (such as awards and product reviews)
(9) An associated slogan or jingle (to add more information or increase recall).
All of these elements impact on how the market values and sees a brand.
Once a brand is in a market, an organisation may choose to extend its use. There are four types of brand extension methods.
(1) Line Extension: where the product category and brand is already in existence (such as adding flavours or colours)
(2) Brand Extension: New category, but an existing brand
(3) Multibranding: Existing category but new brand (Toyota and Lexus cars)
(4) New Brand: New product category and brand name