This article will identify the deployment of brands, the significance of brand equity and measures of improving this.
“ A name, term, sign, symbol, or design, 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 the competition.” Kotler 2004
Consumers choose brands because they are memorable and have a distinguishing quality that appeals to the market. For instance, when a customer is thinking of buying a new laptop, they not only consider the output, the memory, the looks and the feel, but also what brand is reputable in that field. This is because branding provides quality assurance in the mind of the consumer. It reduces search time and brand parity. More importantly, branding allows a company to charge more. Again with the example of a laptop, when comparing a HP laptop to a Sony, they both may have the same specifications, but Sony will have a higher cost.
Deployment of Brands
There are different measures of brands which affect the way in which the product or service is marketed. Companies will opt for one of these measures to increase customer loyalty, purchases, positive word-of-mouth, positive consumer feelings to new products and to improve the success of higher pricing. These measures can be split into ‘within the company’ and ‘with other companies’ as shown below:
Within the Company:-
- Family brands: a group of related products sold under one name. (e.g. Sony to consumer electronics)
- Brand extension: the use of an established brand name on products or services that relate to the core brand (e.g. Nike to clothing products)
- Flanker brand: the development of a new brand sold in the same category as another product (e.g. Proctor & Gamble has got seven types of hair care products including Head & Shoulders, Mediker, Pantene Pro-V, Physique, Rejoy-Rejoice, Pert Plus, Vidal Sassoon)
With Other Companies:-
- Ingredient branding: the placement of one brand within another brand (e.g. Intel microprocessor in Dell computers)
- Cooperative branding: the joint venture of two or more brands into a new product or service (McDonald’s offering Mattel toys in their Happy Meals)
- Complementary branding: the marketing of two brands together for co-consumption (Norton360 antivirus sold with computer purchases in Currys)
- Private brands: proprietary brands marketed by an organization and sold within the organization’s outlets (e.g. Tesco branded products)
Brand equity can be defined either from the perspective of the firm that owns it or from the vantage point of the customer.
Market Based View: It is the set of characteristics unique to a brand, which allows the company the opportunity to charge a higher price and retain a market share that is greater than would otherwise be expected for an undifferentiated product.
Brand equity can result in:
- Higher prices
- Higher gross margins
- Channel power
- Additional retail shelf space
- Reduces customer switching behavior
- Prevents erosion of market share
Organisation Based View: Brand equity is the set of assets and liabilities linked to a brands’ name and symbol, that adds to or subtracts from the value provided by a product or service, to a firm and / or that firms customers.
The major asset categories are:
- Brand name awareness
- Brand loyalty
- Perceived quality
- Brand associations
There is also a Customer Based Perspective on brand equity which is affected by the knowledge the customer has on the brand:
- Differential effect (distinct from other products)
- Brand knowledge (familiarity with the product)
- Consumer response (reflected in perception, preferences, and behavior)
This perspective is affected by the combination of two forms: BRAND AWARENESS and BRAND IMAGE.
An issue of whether a brand name comes to mind when consumers think about a particular product category and the ease with which the name is evoked. There are different levels of awareness a consumer will have, for instance if I say chocolate, how many people will immediately think Cadburys? This is called Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA). There will be a secondary thought of Nestle which is known as Brand Recall, and finally Mars; Brand Recognition. The final awareness would be classed as unaware of brand, which is where you have no association or memory with that brand name.
- Brand recognition reflects a relatively superficial level of awareness. It is merely remembering having seen the advert.
- Brand recall indicates a deeper form of awareness. It involves having knowledge of the adverts’ message.
This introduces the associations that come to the consumer’s mind when thinking about a particular brand. For example if I was to say Waitrose, the first thoughts that come to my mind is premium products, higher markups for weekly shopping items, spacious, friendly, customer focused. If I now say Lidl, images of stock piled up with no sense of presentation comes to mind, cheap bargains, no customer service, quickly into the shop and out again. You do not go to Lidl for a warming and friendly shopping experience, you go for the value of the products.
Enhancing Brand Equity
Brand equity can be improved through three techniques:
- Product Usage. By using the product you evaluate its effectiveness and whether it meets your expectation. (Look up perception vs expectation within SERVQUAL model by by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry between 1985 and 1988)
- Message-driven. Making statements and claims that the product can fulfill your needs through marketing.
- Leveraging through secondary associations; therefore, some associations become “transferred” from other entities to the brand. For example, knowing an employee who works at Costa Coffee may make you more inclined to buy from there in the future. Companies even use their country of origin to promote the brand. For example Nike from USA, AUDI and BMW from Germany.
Leveraging can be a risky marketing technique as it is difficult to truly estimate how influential certain aspects of the brand are and controlling these aspects is extremely difficult. The following issues need to be considered:
- Awareness and knowledge of the entity
- Meaningfulness of the entity’s association
- Transferability of the entity’s association