The Brand As Asset |
When included on the balance sheet, the brand's equity is an intangible asset like good will. Its value brightens the parent company's fiscal picture: this is one big reason why companies are eager to develop strong brands. An enhanced financial picture allows the parent company to generate revenue, grow and expand. The brand, which is structured to be easily separated from the parent company, may be sold. The brand may be segmented to increase the market by creating sub-brands which appeal to more specific consumer needs, further increasing the value of the brand.
In the long term, it's the brand's core message that must be honored. All the strong brands--CocaCola, Nike, Calvin Klein, to name a few--give the impression of unswerving confidence, through their billion dollar advertising campaigns. This is exactly the kind of motivational leadership our emotionally charged culture craves. "The branding statement has to be honest, relevant. For example, the Coke brand is the value of constancy. The contour bottle and Spencerian script are promises that the Coke you'll have in Thailand is the same as the Coke you'll have in Oakland. The challenge for us is always to find ways to make something change and stay the same." People have a strong emotional attachment to CocaCola--it's something they grew up with. Coke is a part of the history of America. Waterbury adds, "The CocaCola headquarters and museum in Atlanta are a testament to excellent management of a global brand: A brand that makes a personal connection for almost everyone."
How Brand is Different from Product
Many organizations use the term "Product brand manager" interchangeably with "Brand Manager." While most of us could think through the semantic difference between a "product" and a "brand," it seems that (with a few exceptions) the two concepts become indistinguishable when it comes to their management. This confusion may explain in part why there are so few brands and so many products.
The product is defined by its form and brand function, what it is and what it does. The product is physical attributes, such as price, performance, ease of use, design and style. What a product is can be relatively easily communicated, rapidly changed and effected in the short term using a number of tools: just add a new ingredient or change the shape of the packaging and you have a new product or, at least, a different one. A good product/ marketing strategist is one who can distill a large amount of data about the consumer, the market, his competition, distribution, and boil it down to the few essential premises that will form the backbone of a focused marketing plan. He should be able to distill these premises even further to write an effective communication strategy which, as any honest advertising person will tell you, must be based on a single minded selling proposition. This ability to distill facts down to their simple essence presupposes an excellent knowledge and understanding of the product's consumer or end-user and buyer.
The brand is almost the opposite on all points. Whereas the product has a form, the brand does not have a physical embodiment: It is merely a promise, a covenant with the customer. Some say that the "logo is the brand"... but this isn't so. A logo is meaningless if it does not communicate the brand's covenant with the consumer. And, whereas communication of a product's physical attributes is straightforward and fast, communication of brand values is inherently circuitous and slow. Like the character of an individual, brand character is most difficult to communicate proactively: The individual cannot tell what his character is; the observer must figure it out for himself... an indirect communications process which requires time and absolute consistency. And, contrary to product communication which is best based on one single minded forceful proposition, brand character, like the character of a person, becomes better defined as it gains in complexity. Lastly, whereas the product manager must gain a superior knowledge of his consumer to be effective, the brand manager's success is in great part based on a thorough knowledge of the idiosyncrasies and the values professed by his company and its long term corporate players, i.e., its top brand management.
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