There is very little consistency in people's understanding, or usage, of brand terminology. For clarity, we offer the following definitions: |
A Product: is something that is produced to function and exists in reality.
A Brand: has meaning beyond functionality and exists in peoples minds.
Product Quality: has major influence on Brand Qualities.
Brand Qualities: are the thoughts, feelings, associations and expectations created by a Brand Identity.
Brand Identity: is the way in which a brand is expressed visually and verbally.
Branding: is viewing every customer related activity as part of the branding process and managing it accordingly. Everything a company does that affects its customer, affects the value of its brand.
Marketing: means making it easy and motivating people to buy your product--through product design, pricing, packaging, distribution, advertising, etc.
Brand Marketing: is pushing beyond product benefits to fulfill a strategic core promise. It means looking past the tangible to the intangible, accommodating buyers' practical needs while resonating with their deeper feelings.
Brand Strategy: means deciding which brands are going to be used to deliver which products and services to which customers. (This may involve usage of global brands, umbrella brands, megabrands, subbrands, flanker brands, brand extensions and brand families.)
Brand Equity: is the present value of the future combined purchases that are a result of the preference created, or the premium paid, for a brand's products.
Why do we want a brand?
All brands start by speaking to the needs and aspirations of an audience. The aspiration is the brand identity: that's a projection of how the brand wishes to be perceived by its target audience (as opposed to the brand image, which is the way the brand is, currently perceived).
Knowledge and appreciation of this core concept will allow the steward of the brand to develop the mission, build and nurture the market, maintain the brand philosophy, strategy, overall look and feel of the brand and, of course, the logo. What is the audience going to be satisfied with or disappointed by with the message coming from the brand? What is going to help build a strong brand identity (what would weaken it)? How can the aspirations for the brand identity be reached?
Who's Minding the Store?
The brand steward, usually senior executive from the parent company, must protect and cultivate the immutable core of the brand (about 50%) in order to ensure that the brand remains strong. The steward manages the part of the brand that must remain fluid (the remaining 50%) in order to keep the brand relevant and exciting. Typically we see a freshness and evolution in the brand's advertising and packaging, that's the part of the brand that is constantly evolving. The steward is responsible for overseeing the advertising agency's efforts to promote the brand, to develop brand segmentation internally (that is, the sub-brands) and to direct the packaging of branded products. The overall responsibility of the brand steward is to keep the brand on course and profitable.
Companies that have broad, strong brand recognition can diversify through their sub-brands more than narrowly focused companies. For instance, Brit Richard Branson, a courageous babyboomer, started his first business in 1968 at the age of sixteen and has cultivated companies in the entertainment area ever since under the umbrella, Virgin Group (www.virgin.com). First came Virgin Records. Ten years later Branson branched out to form Virgin Atlantic Airways, then a year later added Virgin Holidays. Two years after that Virgin expanded to include Virgin Airship & Balloon Company, Virgin Publishing and Virgin Hotels, among others. Branson, a highly visible and consistently strong leader, is the very essence of pioneer spirit and innovation. Consumers 'get' virgin's abstract brand identity because Virgin's broad target audience identifies with Branson and all he stands for: unencumbered global vision and maverick style. He is a self-proclaimed Virgin for life.
Durbrow offers this wisdom, "There is no long-term advantage to having a Brand Image that is greater or lesser than the brand really is. If the image is greater than the reality, people will be disappointed whenever they encounter the brand. If the image is less than the reality, the company will never benefit from all its hard work, i.e., the Brands won't command a premium or create a preference for the company's branded products."
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