In marketing, a brand is the symbolic embodiment of all the information associated with a product or service. A brand typically includes a name, logo, design and other visual elements such as images, colour schemes, fonts, or symbols. Branding is important for any business to be successful, as it sets the tone for how a company is perceived by its target audience.
It also encompasses the set of expectations associated with a product or service that typically arise in people’s minds. Such people include employees of the brand owner, people involved with the sale, distribution, or supply of the product or service, and ultimately consumers.
According to the American Marketing Association, “Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them which is intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”.
The term ‘branding’ refers to the entire process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product (good or service) in the consumers’ minds, through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.
Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers It is like naming a family member. Parents have children and manufacturers have children; i.e., products. As parents, the manufacturers are also eager to know the character and capacity of their products at their birth, but not on their names.
Thus, branding is a process of management by which a product is named, i.e., brand.
Branding helps buyers in many ways. Brand names help consumers to identify products that may benefit them. Brands also tell the buyer about product quality. Buyers who always buy products of the same brand know that they will get the same features, benefits, and quality each time they buy. Branding also gives the seller several advantages.
The brand name becomes the basis on which a complete story can be built about a product’s special qualities. The seller’s brand name and trademark give legal protection for unique product features that otherwise might be copied by competitors. Branding also helps the seller segment markets.
Brand elements sometimes named brand identities, are those trademarkable devices that serve to identify and differentiate the brand. The main brand elements are:
1) Brand Names: A brand name distinguishes one product from another. A unique brand name is the first step to developing a trustworthy and profitable brand.
2) URLs: URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are used to specify locations of pages on the web, and are also commonly referred to as domain names.
3) Logos/Trademarks: Logos are symbols that represent something. It is usually a product, company, or brand. Logos help the company to register a particular image in someone’s mind about the company.
4) Characters: Characters represent a special type of brand symbol one that takes on human or real-life characteristics. To be successful, all brands need to elicit the proper emotional response from their target audience.
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5) Slogans: Brand identity is something all companies worry about. One way companies are trying to attract and retain consumers’ attention is through memorable corporate slogans. A few well-known examples of these slogans include:
I) Coca-Cola’s:- “Open Happiness”, and
ii) Domino’s Pizza:- “Hungry Kya?”
6) Jingles: Jingles are musical messages written about the brand. Some key famous jingles from renowned brands are given below:
i) Amul:- “Utterly Butterly Delicious”
ii) Cadbury Diary Milk:- “Kya Baat Zindagi Ki”.
7) Packaging: Packaging involves the activities of designing and producing wrappers or containers for a product. Packaging is the sub-part of the packing function of marketing.
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Functions of Branding
1) To Consumers
i) Identification of Source of Product
Brands identify the source or maker of the product and automatically send the identity of the manufacturer and marketers.
ii) Assignment of Responsibility to Product-maker
A brand allows consumers to assign responsibility to a particular manufacturer or distributor. Most important brands have a special meaning to consumers.
iii) Risk Reducer
Brands can decrease the risks in product decisions. Consumers may perceive many different types of risks in buying and consuming a product such as functional, physical, financial social, psychological, and time risks. Thus, brands can be a necessary risk-handling device, especially in business-to-business settings where these risks can sometimes have quite profound implications.
iv) Search Cost Reducer
Brands permit consumers to lower search costs for products both internally (in terms of how much they have to think) and externally (in terms of how much they have to look around).
v) Promise, Deal, or Bond with Product Maker
The relationship between a brand and the consumer can be seen as a type of deal or bond. Consumers offer their trust and loyalty with the implicit understanding that the brand will behave in certain ways and provide them utility through consistent product performance, appropriate pricing, promotion, distribution programs, and actions. To the extent that consumers realise advantages and benefits from purchasing the brand, and as long as they derive satisfaction from product consumption, they are likely to continue to buy it.
vi) Symbolic Device
Brands can serve as symbolic devices, allowing consumers to protect their self-image. Certain brands are associated with being used by certain types of people and thus reflect different values or traits: Consuming such products is a means by which consumers can communicate to others or even to themselves the type of person they are or would like to be future.
vii) Signal of Quality
Brands can also play a significant role in signalling certain product characteristics to consumers. Researchers have classified products and their associated benefits or attributes into three major categories:
a) Search Goods: With the search for goods, product attributes can be evaluated by visual inspection (eg. the sturdiness, colour, weight, size, style, and ingredient composition of a product).
b) Experience Goods: With experience goods, product attributes – potentially equally important cannot be assessed so easily by inspection, and actual product trial and experience are necessary (eg, with durability, service quality, safety, and the case of handling or use).
c) Credence Goods: With credence goods, product attributes may be rarely learned (e.g. insurance coverage). Because of the difficulty in assessing, and interpreting product attributes and benefits with experience and credence goods, brands may be particularly important signals of quality and other factors to consumers for these types of products.
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2) To Manufacturers
i) Means of Identification to Simplify Handling or Tracing
Fundamentally, they serve an identification purpose to simplify product handling or tracing for the firm. Operationally, brands help to organise accounting records and inventory.
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ii) Means of Legally Protecting Unique Features
A brand also offers companies legal protection for unique features or aspects of the product. A brand can retain intellectual property rights by giving legal title to the brand owner.
iii) Signal of Quality Level to Satisfied Customers
Brands can signal a certain level of quality so that satisfied buyers can easily choose the product again. This brand loyalty provides predictability and security of demand for the company and creates barriers to entry that make it difficult for other companies to enter the market.
iv) Means of Endowing Products with Unique Associations
Investments in the brand can give a product with unique associations and meanings that differentiate it from other products.
v) Source of Competitive Advantage
Although manufacturing processes and product designs may be easily duplicated, lasting impressions in the minds of individuals and Organisations from years of marketing activity and product experience may not be so easily reproduced.
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An analysis of company strategies reveals six models in the management of brand-product relationships. Each branding strategy based on the brand characteristics model denotes a certain role for the brand, its status as well and its relationship with the products. So, the major branding strategies based on brand characteristics are:
1) Product Branding
It is widely known that a brand is at the same time a symbol, a word, and a concept; a symbol since it has numerous facets and incorporates figurative symbols such as logos, emblems, colours, forms, packaging, and design, a word because it is the brand name which serves as a support for oral or written information on the product, an object. After all, the brand distinguishes each of the other symbols and imparts its significance in other words, its meaning.
The product brand strategy involves the assignment of a particular name to only one, product (or product line) as well as one exclusive positioning. The outcome of such a strategy is that each new product receives a brand name that belongs only to it. Companies then have a brand portfolio that corresponds to the portfolio of their product.
2) Line Branding
The line responds to the concern of offering one coherent response under a single name by proposing many complementary products. This goes from variations of the offer, as in the case of capture or with the scents of an aftershave, to the inclusion of various products within one specific effect, as in the case of Foltene. These products are completely different for the producer but it makes no difference to the consumer, who perceives them as related. It should be clear that the line involves the exploitation of a successful concept by extending it but by remaining very close to the initial product.
3) Range Branding
Range brands bestow a single brand name and promote through a single promise a range of products belonging to the same area of competence. In range brand architecture, products guard their common name (mushroom pizza, pancakes with ham and cheese in the case of Bird’s Eye).
Range brand structure is found in the food sector (Green Giant, Campbell, Heinz, Whiskas, and so on), equipment (Moulinex, Seb, Rowenta, Samsonite) or in the industry (Steelcase, Facom). These brands connect all their products through a unique principle, a brand concept.
4) Endorsement Branding
The endorsing brand gives its approval to a wide diversity of products grouped under product brands, line brands or range brands. Johnson is the guarantor of their security and high quality. This having been said, each product is then free to manifest its originality i.e., which gives rise to the different names seen in the range.
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Unlike the source brand, the endorsing brand gains less from its products. Each particular product name evokes a forceful image and has the power of recall for the consumer. There is little image transfer to the endorser.
5) Umbrella Branding
Under the term ‘umbrella brand’, two modes of implementation in companies, the first relatively liberal towards products and subsidiaries, the other exercising real control. Both modes shall be examined in turn; the first is in reality a house of brands, the other a branded house,
i) Flexible Umbrella Brand
The umbrella brand strategy is characterised by a single brand level, the products are not given a daughter brand. They may be given code names, but only to identify them in catalogues or price lists. Unlike the product brand, where a brand relates to a single product and vice versa, the case of Philips underlines that here the umbrella brand covers many product categories, both figuratively and in reality. This is the principal advantage of this strategy, moreover offering a common umbrella, a common name, to a highly diversified range.
ii) Aligning Umbrella Brand (Masterbrand)
This is the second version of the umbrella brand. At first glance, in formal terms, nothing distinguishes it from the previous version, the company still accepts only a single brand for the whole and therefore imposes descriptive names for the divisions and branches or products and services. The master brand prototype is Nivea. Nivea is active in a large number of categories such as moisturising creams, sunscreens, deodorants, shampoos, beauty products, and make-up. At Nivea, the categories are each sold under a variant of the name Nivea and a descriptor of the function or target. In this way, the Nivea brand range has Nivea Body, Nivea Sun, Nivea Hands, Nivea Visage, and so on.
6) Source Brand Strategy
This is identical to the umbrella brand strategy except for one key point products have their brand name. The benefit of the source brand strategy lies in its ability to provide a two-tiered sense of difference and depth.
It is difficult to personalise a proposition or an offer to a client without any personalised vocabulary. The parent brand offers its significance and identity, modified and enriched by the daughter brand to attract a specific customer segment.
For example, Garnier wanted to become a source brand and abandon its previous endorsing brand strategy. This is a delicate process for it means moving from patchwork to unity.
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Importance of Branding
Brands offer something that far exceeds the companies, products or services they represent Brands allow businesses and other organisations to communicate their intended value and values in one fell swoop. This happens when the value (features and benefits relative to the price) presented in advertising and other communications matches the value experienced in using those products or services. And, when that happens over & over again, over time, it sticks.
Brands offer something of great value they allow people to make decisions about products and services and make recommendations to others, much more quickly and easily. Consumers can put a level of trust or mistrust into something if they know it is likely to deliver on its promise. The old saying in the industry used to be “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”.
That is because IBM had a strong brand, based on a strong and very real reputation for reliable performance and value. This also means relatively low-importance purchases can be made without much time or research. Consider that there are thousands of products on the shelves of one grocery store. Brands allow us to walk down the aisle and grab “old reliable” time and again.
The importance of branding can be understood in the following terms:
1) To Consumers
i) Easy to Recognise: The use of a particular brand of a producer makes it very easy for the consumers to recognise the product because almost all the products of a producer are of the same brand, design, packing, colour, etc.
ii) Availability of Quality Products: The producers, who use a particular brand for their products, always keep themselves busy improving the quality of their products because they want the demand for their products should go on increasing. The result of such efforts of producers is that the consumers get the products of the best quality.
iii) Minimum Fluctuations in Price: It has been the experience that the product prices of standard brands fluctuate very rarely. It brings certainty to the prices of these products.
iv) Improved Packing: The packing of standard brand products is always of high quality. The name of the brand and all the relevant particulars about the product are printed on the packing itself. The packing of such products is very convenient, attractive, and durable.
v) Mental Satisfaction: The use of the products of a standard brand provides mental satisfaction to the consumers that they are using the goods of high quality and paying a reasonable price for these products.
2) To Middlemen
i) Easy to Understand the Needs and Wants of Consumers: The use of a brand makes it very easy for the middlemen to understand the needs, wants, preferences and requirements of consumers because the consumers ask for a particular brand. Even if the consumers do not ask for the products of a particular brand, the seller can sell the products of a famous brand easily.
ii) Less Risk: As the demand for the products of a famous brand already exists in the market, the middlemen have no risk in keeping the products of these brands. In addition to this, the prices of products of famous brands do not fluctuate very frequently. It also reduces the risk of middlemen.
iii) No need for Advertisement and Sales Promotion: As the demand for the products already exists in the market and the customers know this product by name, there is no need for the middlemen to advertise such products because the producers of these products themselves spend the heavy amount on advertisement and sales promotion.
iv) Increase in Sales: Middlemen can easily increase their sales if they deal in products of famous brands because the market for such products already exists.
v) Increase in Profits: As the sales of products of famous brands are high, the profits of the middlemen also increase substantially.
vi) Increase in Goodwill: If a middleman deals in the products of a famous brand it increases his goodwill.
3) To Producers
i) Easy to Advertise: When the product or producers of an enterprise are marketed with a particular brand, it makes it very easy for the enterprise to advertise its product because the enterprise can use the name of the brand in its advertisement messages.
ii) Easy to Identify the Products: The use of a brand is very helpful in the identification of products. The producers can advertise their products with their brand and consumers can identify such products easily.
iii) Creation of Separate Market: Producers can create a distinct market for their products if they use a particular brand because the use of a particular brand differentiates these products from others.
iv) To Get More Price: When consumers like a brand and start to use the product of that brand, they do not mind a little increase in the prices of such products.
v) Easy to Expand the Product Mix: If the brand of a producer is very popular in the market and the demand for such products is quite encouraging, the producer may decide to expand his product mix. He can add new product lines to his product mix or he can add new product items to his existing product lines. It does not create any difficulty for the producer to create demand for new products because the brand has already gained popularity among the consumers.
vi) Personal Contacts with Consumers: When the brand becomes popular among consumers, it becomes very easy for the producer to eliminate or reduce the number of middlemen because he is in a position to directly sell his products to the consumer. It also reduces the cost of distribution extensively.