BRAND MANAGEMENT-BRANDING

 

Brand management begins with having a thorough knowledge of the term “brand”. It includes developing a promise, making that promise and maintaining it. It means defining the brand, positioning the brand, and delivering the brand. Brand management is nothing but an art of creating and sustaining the brand. Branding makes customers committed to your business. A strong brand differentiates your products from the competitors. It gives a quality image to your business.

Brand management includes managing the tangible and intangible characteristics of brand. In case of product brands, the tangibles include the product itself, price, packaging, etc. While in case of service brands, the tangibles include the customers’ experience. The intangibles include emotional connections with the product / service.

Branding is assembling of various marketing mix medium into a whole so as to give you an identity. It is nothing but capturing your customers mind with your brand name. It gives an image of an experienced, huge and reliable business.

It is all about capturing the niche market for your product / service and about creating a confidence in the current and prospective customers’ minds that you are the unique solution to their problem.

The aim of branding is to convey brand message vividly, create customer loyalty, persuade the buyer for the product, and establish an emotional connectivity with the customers. Branding forms customer perceptions about the product. It should raise customer expectations about the product. The primary aim of branding is to create differentiation.

Strong brands reduce customers’ perceived monetary, social and safety risks in buying goods/services. The customers can better imagine the intangible goods with the help of brand name. Strong brand organizations have a high market share. The brand should be given good support so that it can sustain itself in long run. It is essential to manage all brands and build brand equity over a period of time. Here comes importance and usefulness of brand management. Brand management helps in building a corporate image. A brand manager has to oversee overall brand performance. A successful brand can only be created if the brand management system is competent.

·        Understanding Brand – What is a Brand ?

Brands are different from products in a way that brands are “what the consumers buy”, while products are “what concern/companies make”. Brand is an accumulation of emotional and functional associations. Brand is a promise that the product will perform as per customer’s expectations. It shapes customer’s expectations about the product. Brands usually have a trademark which protects them from use by others. A brand gives particular information about the organization, good or service, differentiating it from others in marketplace. Brand carries an assurance about the characteristics that make the product or service unique. A strong brand is a means of making people aware of what the company represents and what are its offerings.

 To a consumer, brand means and signifies:

  •    Source of product
  • Delegating responsibility to the manufacturer of product 
  • Lower risk
  • Less search cost
  • Quality symbol
  • Deal or pact with the product manufacture
  • Symbolic device

Brands simplify consumers purchase decision. Over a period of time, consumers discover the brands which satisfy their need. If the consumers recognize a particular brand and have knowledge about it, they make quick purchase decision and save lot of time. Also, they save search costs for product. Consumers remain committed and loyal to a brand as long as they believe and have an implicit understanding that the brand will continue meeting their expectations and perform in the desired manner consistently. As long as the consumers get benefits and satisfaction from consumption of the product, they will more likely continue to buy that brand. Brands also play a crucial role in signifying certain product features to consumers.

To a seller, brand means and signifies:

  •   Basis of competitive advantage
  •   Way of bestowing products with unique association
  • Way of identification to easy handling
  • Way of legal protection of products’ unique traits/feature
  • Sign of quality to satisfied customer
  • Means of financial returns

A brand, in short, can be defined as a seller’s promise to provide consistently a unique set of characteristics, advantages, and services to the buyers/consumers. It is a name, term, sign, symbol or a combination of all these planned to differentiate the goods/services of one seller or group of sellers from those of competitors. Some examples of well-known brands are McDonald’s’, Mercedes-Benz, Sony, Coca Cola, Kingfisher, etc.

A brand connects the four crucial elements of an enterprise- customers, employees, management and shareholders. Brand is nothing but an assortment of memories in customers mind. Brand represents values, ideas and even personality. It is a set of functional, emotional and rational associations and benefits which have occupied target market’s mind. Associations are nothing but the images and symbols associated with the brand or brand benefits, such as, The Nike Swoosh, The Nokia sound, etc. Benefits are the basis for purchase decision.

·        Brand Positioning

Brand positioning refers to “target consumer’s” reason to buy your brand in preference to others. It is ensures that all brand activity has a common aim; is guided, directed and delivered by the brand’s benefits/reasons to buy; and it focuses at all points of contact with the consumer.

Brand positioning must make sure that:

  • Is it unique/distinctive vs. competitors ?
  • Is it significant and encouraging to the niche market ?
  • Is it appropriate to all major geographic markets and businesses ?
  • Is the proposition validated with unique, appropriate and original products ?
  • Is it sustainable – can it be delivered constantly across all points of contact with the consumer ?
  • Is it helpful for organization to achieve its financial goals ?
  • Is it able to support and boost up the organization ?

In order to create a distinctive place in the market, a niche market has to be carefully chosen and a differential advantage must be created in their mind. Brand positioning is a medium through which an organization can portray its customers what it wants to achieve for them and what it wants to mean to them. Brand positioning forms customer’s views and opinions.

Brand Positioning involves identifying and determining points of similarity and difference to ascertain the right brand identity and to create a proper brand image. Brand Positioning is the key of marketing strategy. A strong brand positioning directs marketing strategy by explaining the brand details, the uniqueness of brand and it’s similarity with the competitive brands, as well as the reasons for buying and using that specific brand. Positioning is the base for developing and increasing the required knowledge and perceptions of the customers. It is the single feature that sets your service apart from your competitors. For instance- Kingfisher stands for youth and excitement. It represents brand in full flight.

 There are various positioning errors, such as-

  1. Under positioning- This is a scenario in which the customers have a blurred and unclear idea of the brand.
  2. Over positioning- This is a scenario in which the customers have too limited a awareness of the brand.
  3. Confused positioning- This is a scenario in which the customers have a confused opinion of the brand.
  4. Double Positioning- This is a scenario in which customers do not accept the claims of a brand.

 

·        Building a Brand Name Product or Service

At times, organizations are often inspired by a variety of ideas to create products and services which can be offered locally or globally. Generally, such products or services require the establishment of a brand or company name. Often these brands include both logo and lettering and can do a long way in advertising such products or services. Therefore, one of the most important steps in building a Brand is decide upon a brand name for the product or service one wishes to sell.

Branding is a process that allows an individual or a group of individuals the ability to provide a brand image and lettering to an idea. Upon doing so, one has a better chance of selling such items to a broader audience whether that be on a local or global level. Therefore, while the old adage “nothing happens until somebody sells something,” still stands true to some extent, at times almost seems as if the process of advertising and branding has overtaken the desire to sell.

Although branding generally identifies the company and philosophies behind same, it can also be representative of those working for such a company. This is a good thing as it generates the right type of audience to the product or service being sold based on personal relationships with those running the company, therefore, benefiting both the organizations selling the branded product or service and the dealers buying same.

One of the most important steps in selling any product or service is the belief one holds in relation to the item. Therefore, only those who strongly believe in the products and services offered by the company are going to be good at selling same. Otherwise, one may want to work from an advertising or graphic artist perspective in relation to advertising rather than sales when it comes to time to market same.

Another step is to build a brand that maintains loyalty with its customer base and has a strong customer service department. For, having such a department in today’s world where one is both experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to helping others can be a rare find. So, companies who represent oneself has having a strong customer base and even stronger customer service department are often more successful than those who do not.A very important step in marketing a brand is to identify the target audience before creating the logo and lettering in relation to marketing. This is because different age groups react differently to a variety of logo and lettering especially as so much is misrepresented by a variety of gangs and others using such material inappropriately. Therefore, if one can define the brand name, logo and lettering and present same to a marketing research review panel or the like, one may be able to gain a better understanding of which audience one needs to direct their product or service to in order to create the most sales.

Still, if one can communicate the use of their product or service clearly, establish trust within the community, be that locally or globally, aim marketing at the right audience, build a base of buyers and customer loyalty and offer great customer service, then one is on their way to not only creating and advertising an excellent brand but selling one as well.

Therefore, when looking for steps in building a brand, there are many steps which one can complete to help make the creation of such brand an easier task. These include, knowing your audience, building your brand, finding a great logo and lettering to represent same, targeting the appropriate audience and placing a number of ads in as many online and offline advertising venues one can find. For, after doing so, one may just find that they are selling even more products and services than one had ever dreamed possible.

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