Branding

Executive summary

According to economists and business analysts, the ability of a product to sell or to attract a higher clientele depends mainly on how it is packaged, marketed and advertised to the potential market segment.

As such, it is always important to select a name and a presentation technique that will motivate the consumers to buy a product irrespective of the available substitute goods. In today’s society, branding has become a significant strategy to employ while trying to eliminate competition or/and competing effectively. Branding presents an organization with the opportunity to enhance its reputation and make itself known by the consumers.

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It is an important tool to utilize especially since consumer loyalty in today’s world can easily be swayed. Therefore, if an organization intends to remain successful in the highly dynamic markets, it is imperative that they employ some cutting edge innovative brand in order to keep the consumers ‘wired’ to the products that the organization is producing.

Introduction

According to Walser, a brand can best be defined as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers” (39). As such, it should be known that branding is not only about making the consumers buy your product but also a means of making them understand that your organization has the ultimate solutions for their needs and desires.

It is an important concept because a product brand acts as a guarantee that the organization will always cater for the needs of the target consumers at all times. Consequently, branding plays a pivotal role in forging a long lasting relationship between the consumers and the product because they are assured that the desired quality of the product will always be there.

As mentioned earlier, brands are very important in the marketing process of a given product. This is mainly because a brand goes a long way in reputation building as well as creating an image for your organization. In most cases, consumers do not buy products because of the management and financial status of an organization but their decision to buy a product solely depends on how it is presented and its ability to satisfy a given need. Therefore, giving a product a good name or a relevant symbol will suffice in convincing the consumers that a given product is what they need.

Brands are very critical towards the success of a business and often refer to what an organization is doing to make itself known to the general public. According to Randall, branding may range from posting an advert, tagging your car with the business logo, using an attractive letterhead on your invoices or letters with essential details on what your business is all about.

The author suggests that in so doing, it may not be a surprise when referrals start trickling in, phones start ringing or people recognizing your product when they see it. A marketing rule of thumb is that you must be seen, heard and remembered by your target market. Branding offers the avenues through which these aspects can be addressed simultaneously. It should be noted that consumers are often showered with different brands on a daily basis.

Therefore, the best way to stay on top should be through effective branding. This can only be achieved when an organization does extensive research on consumer behavior as well as the new trends in the markets. Such endeavors ensure that the consumers are blinded from other products thereby cutting marketing and production costs that could have otherwise been incurred in the process of introducing new products into the market.

Types of branding

There are various documented branding strategies. The decision on which brand an organization should use depends mainly on the targeted market, cost and the type of product or service that the organization is offering to its consumers. They include the following:

Corporate brands

These are brands used by companies which offer a specified benefit or service to their clients. The main advantage of using corporate brand is that everything that the organization does is linked to the brand that it has chosen.

This is beneficial to the company because it reduces the costs incurred in advertising and introducing new products to the market. However such brands have a disadvantage associated with the use of a single brand for various products. As earlier mentioned, consumer loyalty can easily be swayed depending on how a product or service is presented.

What seems fashionable today may not necessarily hold the same weight tomorrow. Therefore, using a single brand for different products may not enable a company to compete effectively with a company which uses various brands for its products. In addition to this, failure of a product, affects the company as a whole because consumers will most likely associate the failure to the brand and consequently every product under the brand will be considered as a failure.

Distinct Brand

This type of brand is used by companies or organizations which choose to introduce all their products as independent brands for example Proctor & Gamble. Most companies prefer this type of branding because each product is independent. As such, any problem that arises from the brand is not linked directly to the company. Additionally, the distinct benefits that can be accrued from a product are directly associated with their brand.

The disadvantage of using this type of brand is that the product requires its own marketing strategy and a budgetary allocation which at times may be very expensive. On the same note, the success of a given brand may not be attributed to the brand of the company that manufactured the product.

Hybrid Brand

According to Haines this is the brand used “when a product extends the benefit of an overall brand or company” (176). It is a great strategy to use because the marketing and the branding can be done using the same budget and help build the overall reputation of the company. However, any problem associated with the product will affect both brands. An example of a hybrid brand is the merger of Firestone tires with Bridgestone tires. If the product they produce generates some negative feedback, this will affect both brands equally.

Umbrella Brand

Haines states that this brand applies “if a company offers different products with different benefits, but they all extend the same value to the customer” (179). A good example for this type of brand is Nike which produces athletic gears. It is much easier and cost effective to present such products under one brand. The advantage of using this brand is that each product contributes towards the satisfaction of the consumers thereby adding value to the overall brand.

In addition to this, the marketing and branding strategies can easily share costs. The disadvantage of using this type of brand is that the company stands at a risk if a single product does not perform as expected. This will ultimately affect the whole brand.

Arguably, whichever branding strategy that a company decides to adopt has its advantages and disadvantages. It is therefore important that an organization select a strategy that will attract more benefits than costs while choosing a branding strategy.

Literature review

It should be noted that analysis performed in branding range from those requiring simple tools (interviews and questionnaires) to others which require elaborate equipment (quality control research and experiments). According to Malhotra “the matter of validity as concerns the results obtained from such analysis largely depends on the procedures followed and measures undertaken during the test run” (187).

The issue of consistency arises in that if there is no standardized way in which these analyses were carried out, then their validity cannot be reaffirmed time and time again.

The desirable consistency can only be achieved if there is a set of well stipulated procedures and methods which are followed to the letter at all times. Therefore, the success of a brand will depend on the degree of organization showcased by the company during the production to the introduction of the product to the market.

In the past, most organizations never gave much thought to quality control. Perhaps this had been due to the absolute power which traditionally lay in the hands of the person producing the products. The consumers of these products and services had in those instances been nothing but a passive recipient with no say over the affairs taking place.

The tables have however turned around with the adoption of absolute customer satisfaction policies by institutes and the information explosion which can be attributed almost primarily to the internet. Due to these two factors, it is important that an organization produce quality products for its client.

From this paper, it has been noted that the failure of a given brand may lead to the demise of a whole company. In as much as branding contributes significantly to the success of a product, matters pertaining to the quality of the product must be equally adhered to in order to avoid compromising situations.

For example, the Firestone tire recall in the 70’s affected the whole company and tarnished the brand name for years to come. This may come as a shock especially since not all products put in the market had problems. Therefore quality goes hand in hand with branding when it comes to marketing a given product.

Having discussed the need for the establishment of quality control, it would be prudent to outline how to go about this in the branding process. Malhotra affirms that there are a number of variables that can affect the success of a brand (226).

These variables include but are not limited to the company’s knowledge of the current market trends, the strategy used and the interpretation and reporting of the acquired results. Despite the existence of these variables, quality control can be achieved if the best practices and procedures are adhered to. It should be noted that these practices are not conclusive in nature now chronological.

From the onset of the branding process, controls should be established for each of the procedures that may be undertaken. A control is a sample of a specimen whose result is already known. It acts as a benchmark and is vital for validating the results of the entire brand (Elliot and Percy, 197).

These controls will be expected to yield results that are in the realm of some pre-prescribed criteria for acceptability. All research performed should strictly follow the physical parameters that have been established. This will lead to standardization in the performance since the same set of physical constraints was used in all similar tests. The consumer who is the center of attention for the organization should also be kept in the know of how the analyses are progressing.

Lindstrom suggests that “not only will this lead to significant increase in the consumers trust in the given brand but it may also lead to faster recovery in cases where a brand has already been disqualified by the market” (72). It is further proposed that the organization should be reassuring to the consumers every step of the way until the launch of the brand. This can be done through advertising the new product which will prepare and make the consumers anxious to try out the new brand.

Monitoring of the current brands and how best they meet the customers’ expectations should be done. As such, the current methods of testing and coming up with results should be analyzed and the satisfaction levels resulting from this both from the customers point for view and from a technical point of view analyzed.

Having done this, it would be easy to assess how far off from the desired quality the current brand fall. A different kind of monitoring that would be desirable would be that of the substitute brands (Elliot and Percy, 193).

This would be done periodically to ensure that best practices are being followed and at the same time see to it that the high levels of quality stipulated are continually followed. In addition to this, it would ensure that a given brand has a competitive edge over its substitutes making it more preferred by the targeted market.

Lastly, the branding process should involve the identification and subsequent addressing of any errors that may have been noticed. To put it in another way, if a current method of getting things done is not effective and efficient, better methods should be come up with.

The addressing of these problems may be done in a range of ways. Hoyer and Macinnis propose the involvement of the consumers in the re-evaluation of the brand (254). However, this can only be done to a point since if the flaw is of a procedural nature, the consumer would not be in a position to offer any significant suggestions due to lack of expertise in the field.

Major advantages can be reaped from a brand driven culture by both the consumer and the organization. The consumer will feel appreciated and hence have more faith in the product while at the same time giving more suggestions and opinions on the product. He will also return to the same organization in the future should the need arise.

The organization will yield better results if the brand is accepted since there will be standardization of procedures and hence repetition of positive results from the product will be assured. Money will also be saved once a set of procedures have been adopted and used continuously therefore costs reduced. The risk of failure or inefficiency will also be reduced by a large percentage.

For example, the manufactures of Mercedes Benz have continuously enjoyed a large market share due to the brand name. Their consistent production of luxury cars has made the company an icon in the motor vehicle industry. Due to this consistency, the company has developed a large consumer base based on the culture fostered by the brand.

Marketing research

According to a survey I carried out on the coca cola beverage brand, majority of the participators claimed that they had never grown an interest in other soft drinks other than their preferred choice. They attributed this to the fact that it is an international brand and that it meet their needs in terms of taste and design. Those that did not have any brand loyalty claimed that they choose their soft drinks according to how it is presented. That means their choice of drinks depends on how it is packaged, its name and how flashy it looks.

On the same note, I also had a chance to interview various athletes about their choice in athletic gear. Those that preferred Nike claimed that the brand has been developing quality gear for a very long time thus making them reliable. From these interviews, I gathered that a brand’s culture and history plays a pivotal role in influencing the consumers into buying those products. In addition to this, it became evident that the brand name does not necessarily reflect on the performance of the organization producing it.

Most of the participants did not know much about the manufacturer of their products but only cared about the products that they get. This goes to show that branding is the most effective way of ensuring a place in the global market. However, the question on quality of the brand also had a significant effect on the brand’s success.

Conclusion

This paper reinforces the dire need for adopting branding strategies in today’s business world. The means discussed herein for creating quality brands in organizations are nowhere near being conclusive in nature but offer a solid platform from which definitive policies can be launched.

It can also be clearly seen from the arguments presented championing the need for a brand culture that there is a great need to formulate some form of quality control method to avoid repercussions of immense magnitude both to the organization and also on the part of the consumers which may come about as a result of brands being flawed.

The paper does recognize the various costs which will be incurred while ensuring a brand’s success and while it may be reasoned out by management that these costs are not a priority, given the many other areas that may need funding, the future economic advantages that can be accrued from adopting an aggressive branding strategy far outweighs the costs.

The various types of branding have been addressed and their advantages and disadvantages mentioned. The various schools of thought presented by various scholars pertaining to branding have also been analyzed. Undoubtedly the assimilation of branding in the marketing of different products presents organizations with a chance to survive the turbulences that are presented by the ever changing markets.

Works Cited

Elliot, Richard and Percy, Larry. Strategic brand management. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

Haines, Steven. The Product Manager’s Desk Reference. USA: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008. Print.

Hoyer, Wayne and Macinnis, Deborah. Consumer Behavior. Chicago: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Lindstrom, Martin. Clicks, bricks & brands. USA: Kogan Page Publishers, 2001. Print.

Malhotra, Naresh. Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation. New York: Pearson Education, 2009. Print.

Walser, Martin G. Brand strength: building and testing models based on experiential information. USA: DUV, 2004. Print.

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