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Brand Image is often Valued at Several Times the Physical Assets
It is when the brand image (consisting of a name, symbol, color combinations, slogan and other visual and auditory elements) is supported by specific experiences of customer satisfaction that a brand can achieve its potential. When a product satisfies customer expectations, brand marketing communications can build a perception of superior value and associate it with a logo or other branding symbol. Famous brands such as IBM not only commands continued customer loyalty but are often able to charge higher prices.
Marketing and Brands
The basic function of branding is to distinguish the brand owner’s product or service from those of competitors. Customer comes to feel that there is something special or unique about the branded products that they buy. They will even pay a higher price for the branded product even if lower priced generic products are available.
Considering that a basic goal of marketing is to gain a competitive advantage, branding can be seen as a key element of the marketing effort. Even the value of the company is increased by its brand equity. Companies that own widely recognized brands can command a price that is far in excess of the value of their tangible assets.
Effective brand building campaigns usually leads to the creation of a brand franchise. Once such a franchise is created, it can be marketed in different ways. For example, independent operators will be willing to pay for the right to use the brand for their operations. The brand owners themselves can use the brand for a range of other products, a practice known as brand extension. Businesses in the fashion industry use established brand names for clothing, fragrances, shoes and accessories, for example.
Brand building is essentially a marketing communication task. Brand designs that are appropriate to the product or service are created in such forms as a distinctive name, logo, use of color patterns and slogans. Products display the brand, and marketing communications seek to associate it with the qualities that target customers’ value.
The process typically starts with a clear understanding of what qualities are valued by the customer group. These qualities are then built into the product and marketing communications will seek to create a feeling in the minds of consumers that the product brand is superior in providing expected value. The marketing communications cover a wide range of tactics, and can even include selecting a distinctive ambience for the sales outlets, e.g. Swarovski crystal outlets.
Brand building succeeds when brand managers align what the product delivers with the brand promise, i.e. what the brand owner has promised and customers have come to expect. In course of time, however, the brand can evolve into something different depending on changing customer perceptions.
Business Use of Brands
Different strategies are adopted by businesses to exploit the advantages provided by brands. The brand might be associated with the company (IBM) or with individual products (Coca Cola). A brand can be promoted by working on specific attitudes, as Nike did with sports excellence. Multiple brands of the same product can be offered by the same company, often competing with each other. Such multiple brands might succeed in increasing the overall market share of the company.
Strong retailers might get private label products branded in their own name from manufacturers, and these private labels might compete against the manufacturer’s own brands in shop shelves. And key component suppliers like Intel, with their Intel Inside slogan, might be able get their brand displayed by different manufacturers.
Lately, even No Brand has itself become a branding strategy. Good quality products with no branding is displayed on shop shelves, and the lower prices of these (made possible by avoiding the expenses of branding effort) can generate high sales volumes. Non-branding can also cater to the anti-brand movement.
Branding is a key strategy for gaining and keeping a competitive advantage. Many famous brands are able to command surprisingly great customer loyalty and premium prices. Companies that own successful brands can also command valuations that far exceed the value of their assets. Brand building involves creating expectations of superior value in the minds of customers and then aligning customer experiences with these expectations.