Branding is the activity of creating and inventing a distinguished symbol, design, slogan or a name in order to connect and relate certain product or service with a meaning which implies more than just physical attributes or service characteristics. (Kotler & Armstrong, 2012)
Branding gives value to the customers because brand constitutes an important part of the product. A well established brand creates value to customers as customers develop trust in product or service because of its known quality, reliability, usefulness or any other advantage that distinguishes a brand from unbranded products. Branded products or services have a personality which is carefully created and designed to communicate their benefits to specific target groups. It tells people something about their lives, interests and values, and communicates all those high traits so that consumers can see themselves in a different light finding themselves closer to what they want to be or how they want to be perceived.
According to Kotler and Armstrong (2012) “Brand names help consumers identify products that might benefit them.” (Kotler & Armstrong, 2012:232) This means that brand relates consumer to recognisable positive characteristics and features of the branded products as well as to positive emotions coming out of possessing and using a product. In many ways today's brands go so far that they actually become a basis for development of a character. For example, a BMW owner has a distinguished character. He/She values quality, power, technology and elegance, whereas Bentley owner values style, tradition, taste and status. Each of branded products create an ideal type character which can be a role model to a certain target group of consumers. This way a brand loyalty can be established because consumers tend to chose a brand which is closer to ideal-types of themselves. According to Britt (1966) “A consumer may buy a product because, among other factors, he feels that the product enhances his own self-image” (Britt, 1966:186)
Well established brands help companies to achieve competitive advantage which presents many benefits for the company. Strong brand creates brand equity, a valuable asset which can be utilised in many ways. It increases customer loyalty and customer lifetime value, creates leverage in negotiations with resellers and distributors, and can serve as a protection in price wars. (Kotler & Armstrong, 2012) Additionally, strong brand value is the most valuable asset a company can possess because it can sell brand licenses to other companies to help them promote their products.
In developing a brand for a company in our project assignment, I would create a brand designed to attract target group. Since my target group consists of IT technology professionals, I would research their values, aesthetics, and typical character. Since these people are or tend to be innovative, creative, competent, resourceful and knowledgeable, I would try to incorporate all this characteristics into a brand logo and slogan.
Additionally I would use four steps in brand building. According to Keller (2001) four steps for successful brand building can be formulated as questions:
- Who are you? - Refers to identity of the brand
- What are you? - The meaning of the brand
- What about you? - What is a company’s perception of target audience.
- What about you & me? - What kind of relationship would company like to have with its customers (Keller, 2001)
These questions actually represent a structure which can be helpful in defining brand identity, meaning, customer response and relationship. These are merely logical steps in building and maintaining a strong brand and serve as operational framework in creating experiences which provide cognitive and emotional connection to the brand.
We see that building a brand is a process which cannot be accomplished in short time. It takes company’s resources to establish long term positive relationship between customer and a brand. Hence it rises overall product costs which can rise product price also. Sometimes customers are more willing to chose a no name product with a cheaper price rather than a branded and costly product. A good example are noname PCs which are 50% cheaper than branded counterparts. Obviously a cost benefit logic and value for money can be crucial when dealing with products which are essentially the same as branded products. Regardless of non existent or poor support and lack of bundled guarantee, price is still the major criteria for this product group.
- Britt, S.H. (1966) Consumer Behavior and the Be- havioral Sciences: Theories and Application. 1st ed. New-York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Keller, L. H. (2001) Building Customer-Based Equity: A Blueprint for Creating Strong Brands. Working Paper Series, Report no 01-107, 3-23.
- Kotler, P. & Armstrong, G. (2012) Principles of Marketing. 14th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall