Brand Management

Generic trademark

In marketing, brand management is the analysis and planning on how a brand is perceived in the market, with the goal of developing a good relationship with the target market. Tangible elements of brand management include the product itself (i.e. the look, price, packaging). Intangible elements include the experience that the consumer has had with the brand, and also their relationship with it. A brand manager would oversee all of these things. The modern discipline of brand management is considered to have been started by a famous memo at Procter & Gamble by Neil H. McElroy.

Marketing scholar Molly Hislop defined branding as ‘the process of creating a relationship or a connection between a company’s product and emotional perception of the customer for the purpose of generating segregation among competition and building loyalty among customers.’ It is a fulfillment in customer expectations and consistent customer satisfaction. Brand management aims to create an emotional connection between products, companies and their customers and constituents. Brand managers create strategies to convert a suspect to prospect; prospect to buyer; buyer to customer and customer to brand advocates.

Brand management is a function of marketing that uses special techniques in order to increase the perceived value of a product. Based on the aims of the established marketing strategy, brand management enables the price of products to grow and builds loyal customers through positive associations and images or a strong awareness of the brand. Brand management is the process of identifying the core value of a particular brand and reflecting the core value among the targeted customers. In modern terms brand could be corporate, product, service or person. Brand management build brand credibility and credible brands build brand loyalty, bounce back from circumstantial crisis, and can benefit from price-sensitive customers.

The origin of branding can be traced to ancient times, when specialists often put individual trademarks on hand-crafted goods. The branding of farm animals in Egypt in 2700 BCE to avoid theft may be considered the earliest form of branding, as in its literal sense. As somewhat more than half of companies older than 200 years old are in Japan, many Japanese businesses’ ‘mon’ or seal is an East Asian form of brand or trademark. In the West, Staffelter Hof dates to 862 or earlier and still produces wine under its name today. By 1266, English bakers were required by law to put a specific symbol on each product they sold. Branding became more widely used in the 19th century, through the industrial revolution and the development of new professional fields like marketing, manufacturing and business management. Branding is a way of differentiating product from mere commodities, and therefore usage of branding expanded with each advance in transportation, communication, and trade.

According to Interbrand, the top global brands consistently include Coca-Cola, Apple, Google, GE, McDonald’s, Intel, Samsung, and Toyota. The split between commodities/food services and technology is not a matter of chance: both industrial sectors rely heavily on sales to the individual consumer who must be able to rely on cleanliness/quality or reliability/value, respectively. For this reason, industries such as agricultural (which sells to other companies in the food sector), student loans (which have a relationship with universities/schools rather than the individual loan-taker), and electricity (which is generally a controlled monopoly) have less prominent and less recognized branding. Brand value, moreover, is not simply a fuzzy feeling of ‘consumer appeal,’ but an actual quantitative value of goodwill under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Companies will rigorously defend their brand name, including prosecution of trademark infringement. Occasionally trademarks may differ across countries.

Luxury and high-end premium brands may create advertisements or sponsor teams merely for the ‘overall feeling’ or goodwill generated. A typical ‘no-brand’ advertisement might simply put up the price (and indeed, brand managers may patrol retail outlets for using their name in discount/clearance sales), whereas on the other end of the extreme, a perfume brand might be created that does not show the actual use of the perfume or Breitling may sponsor an aerobatics team purely for the ‘image’ created by such sponsorship. Space travel and brand management for this reason also enjoys a special relationship. ‘Nation branding’ is a modern term conflating foreign relations and the idea of a brand. An example is Cool Britannia of the 1990s.

Among the most highly visible and recognizable brands is the red Coca-Cola can. Despite numerous blind tests indicating that Coke’s flavor is not preferred, Coca-Cola continues to enjoy a dominant share of the cola market. Coca-Cola’s history is so replete with uncertainty that a folklore has sprung up around the brand, including the (refuted) myth that Coca-Cola invented the red-dressed Santa-Claus which is used to gain market entry in less capitalistic regions in the world such as the former Soviet Union and China, and such brand-management stories as ‘Coca-Cola’s first entry into the Chinese market resulted in their brand being translated as ‘bite the wax tadpole.” Brand management science is replete with such stories, including the Chevrolet ‘Nova’ or ‘it doesn’t go’ in Spanish, and proper cultural translation is useful to countries entering new markets.

Modern brand management also intersects with legal issues such as ‘genericization of trademark.’ The ‘Xerox’ Company continues to fight heavily in media whenever a reporter or other writer uses ‘xerox’ as simply a synonym for ‘photocopy.’ Should usage of ‘xerox’ be accepted as the standard English term for ‘photocopy,’ then Xerox’s competitors could successfully argue in court that they are permitted to create ‘xerox’ machines as well. Yet, in a sense, reaching this stage of market domination is itself a triumph of brand management, in that becoming so dominant typically involves strong profit.

Brand orientation refers to ‘the degree to which the organization values brands and its practices are oriented towards building brand capabilities.’ It is a deliberate approach to working with brands, both internally and externally. The most important driving force behind this increased interest in strong brands is the accelerating pace of globalization. This has resulted in an ever-tougher competitive situation on many markets. A product’s superiority is in itself no longer sufficient to guarantee its success. The fast pace of technological development and the increased speed with which imitations turn up on the market have dramatically shortened product lifecycles. The consequence is that product-related competitive advantages soon risk being transformed into competitive prerequisites. For this reason, increasing numbers of companies are looking for other, more enduring, competitive tools – such as brands.

Companies are now experiencing a new challenge with the introduction of social media. Even though online networks have changed the tactics of marketing brands, its primary goals remain the same; to attract and retain customers. This change is finding the right balance between empowering customers to spread the word about the brand through viral platforms, while still controlling the company’s own core strategic marketing goals. Word-of-mouth marketing via social media, falls under the category of viral marketing, which broadly describes any strategy that encourages individuals to propagate a message, thus, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Basic forms of this are seen when a customer makes a statement about a product or company or endorses a brand. This marketing technique allows users to spread the word on the brand which creates exposure for the company. Because of this brands have become interested in exploring or using social media for commercial benefit.

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