Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding

Introduction to Branding

The word "brand", when used as a noun, can refer to a company name, a product name, or a unique identifier such as a logo or trademark. In a time before fences were used in ranching to keep one's cattle separate from other people's cattle Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding, ranch owners branded, or marked, their cattle so they could later identify their herd as their own.

The concept of branding also developed through the practices of craftsmen who wanted to place a mark or identifier on their work without detracting from the beauty of the piece. These craftsmen used their initials Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding, a symbol, or another unique mark to identify their work and they usually put these marks in a low visibility place on the product.

Branding today is used to create emotional attachment to products and companies. Branding efforts create a feeling of involvement, a sense of Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding higher quality, and an aura of intangible qualities that surround the brand name, mark, or symbol.

A brand is a quite vague term. There are a number of definitions of a brand. The definition of the American Marketing Association – to name one – defines it as “a name, term, sign, symbol or design Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition.”

Certainly, it sums up the key issues of what a brand is, but it does not give the complete picture of Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding what brand management is all about. People, events and places are equally well known brands in the wider sense: The Spice Girls, the Olympic Games and even the Seychelles are as famous as Microsoft, Marlboro and Coca-Cola.

The consumers will use the brands so as to Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding quickly distinguish each product apart from its competitive one, when buying. At first they might try different brands, but at the end they will use the brand shortcut so as to avoid the time-consuming decision-making process every time they buy. More products are affected by repetitive buyers than others of Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding course, as it is not the same to compare the buying frequency of milk with that of a car.

In its simplest form, a brand is nothing more and nothing less than the promises of value a product makes. These promises can be implied or explicitly stated, but none Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding-the-less, value of some type is promised.

Additional definitions

Brand image is defined as consumers' perceptions as reflected by the associations they hold in their minds when they think of the brand.

Brand awareness is when people recognise a brand for what it is. This does not necessarily Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding mean they prefer that brand (brand preference), attach a high value to, or associate any superior attributes to it, it just means they recognise the brand and can identify it under different conditions.

Brand awareness consists of both brand recognition, which is the ability of consumers to confirm that they have previously been Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding exposed to the brand, and brand recall, which reflects the ability of consumers to name the brand when given the product category, category need, or some other similar cue.

Aided awareness occurs when you show or read a list of brands and the person expresses familiarity with your brand only after Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding they hear or see it.

Top-of-mind awareness occurs when you ask a person to name brands within a product category and your brand pops up first on the list.

When you think about facial tissue and adhesive bandages, do the brands Kleenex® and Band-Aid® come to Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding mind? These brands enjoy strong top-of-mind awareness in their respective categories. Brand awareness is vitally important for all brands but high brand awareness without an understanding of what sets you apart from the competition does you virtually no good. Many marketers experience confusion on this point Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding.

Strategic awareness occurs when not only does the person recognise your brand, but they also understand the distinctive qualities that make it better than the competition. Strategic awareness occurs when you have differentiated your brand in the mind of your market. This distinction as to why your brand is unique in Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding your category is also referred to as your Unique Selling Proposition or USP. Your USP tells your target market what you do and stand for that is different from all of your competitors.

Brand preference occurs when consumers prefer your brand over competing brands. Brand preference might be considered "the Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding holy grail" of branding because it is the result of consumers knowing your brand, understanding what is unique about your brand, connecting emotionally with your brand, making a decision that your brand is superior to others for some reason or combination of reasons, and choosing it over competing Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding brands.

Establishing a brand

I've heard very strong arguments that public relations is the way a strong brand is truly established and advertising is how the brand is maintained. In fact, recently, authors Al and Laura Ries devoted an entire book, The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding, to reinforce and illustrate this idea (Harper, 2002). If a brand is successful in making a connection with people and communicating its distinct advantage, people will want to tell others about it and word-of-mouth advertising will develop naturally—not to mention writers in the press will want to write about Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding the brand. Once that type of differentiation is established in the market's mind, advertising can help maintain and shape the brand. What you need to do in branding is to communicate what the brand distinctively stands for using as few words or images as possible. So remember, branding Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding is all about creating singular distinction, strategic awareness, and differentiation in the mind of the target market--not just awareness. When you have been successful, you will start building equity for your brand.

Points of Parity

The discussion of strategic awareness, points of singular distinction, and brand equity would not Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding be complete without discussion of brand points of parity. Points of parity are those associations that are often shared by competing brands. Consumers view these associations as being necessary to be considered a legitimate product offering within a given category.

In other words, if you create what you Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding consider to be a wonderful point of differentiation and position, they might not be enough if consumers do not view your product or service as measuring up on “minimum product expectations”. Points of parity are necessary for your brand but are not sufficient conditions for brand choice Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding.

As an example, the author might produce a wonderful new automobile that uses advanced global positioning and sensor technologies that render a driver obsolete by automatically routing the car, adjusting speed for traffic conditions, recognizing and complying with all traffic laws, and delivering passengers and cargo to the proper Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding destination without the need for operator intervention.

However, unless we have fully considered the brand’s points of parity with other products in the category, we probably will not meet with success. Consumers might expect that at minimum an automobile will have four wheels with rubber, inflatable tires, be Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding street legal, run on a widely-available fuel source, be able to operate during both night and day in most weather conditions, seat at least two people comfortably with luggage, be able to operate on existing roads and highways, and provide a fair level of personal safety to occupants. If Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding one automobile does not possess these points of parity with competing brands, then it might be too different and might not be seen as a viable choice or a strong brand.

The lesson here is that differentiation and singular distinction are necessary for strong brands, but they do Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding not solely make for a strong brand. Your brand must also measure up well against the competition on expected criteria so as to neutralise those attributes.

Once you have met the points of parity requirement and then you provide a unique selling proposition and hold a strong, defensible position, then Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding you have the makings of a very strong brand.

Brand Equity

Brand Equity is the sum total of all the different values people attach to the brand, or the holistic value of the brand to its owner as a corporate asset. Brand equity can include: the monetary value or the amount Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding of additional income expected from a branded product over and above what might be expected from an identical, but unbranded product; the intangible value associated with the product that can not be accounted for by price or features; and the perceived quality attributed to the product independent Subjects: Branding and Co-Branding of its physical features. A brand is nearly worthless unless it enjoys some equity in the marketplace. Without brand equity, you simply have a commodity product.