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According to Keller Lehmann, due to the growing recognition that brands are among the most valuable impalpable benefits that firms have, branding has become as a top priority in management in the last few decades. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a symbol, term, sign, name or design, or a combination of them with an intention to identify goods and services of a trader or a group of traders and to distinguish them from those of competitors. Over the last few decades, branding services have significantly increased as brands constantly seek new ways of communicating and expressing ideas to consumers. Whereas previously, brands were chosen for their ability to present values to the consumers who use them, it is increasingly and more pertinently the case that consumers are conferring values on the brands they use. More and more, “ownership” of brands is passing to consumers.
As the competition for audiences intensifies in the western societies, branding has moved into everyday life and is affecting more sectors than ever before. It is no longer a practice confined to companies: institutions of learning and charitable organizations and arts now use branding techniques. It is also being applied to celebrities, and countries and cities that want to rebrand themselves. Branding is expected to transform further as emerging markets become key for western brands.
Increasing global consumption, more informed audiences, and new technologies that have enhanced global communications are a driving factor to the increase in branding and brand awareness.
Development of brand equity
Brian Phipps on next-generation brands: new brand models, platforms, applications define Brand equity as the strategic ability of a company to create customers.
Dymond Institute of Business explored various strategies Apple has applied to develop its prestigious brand to what it is today. According to the institute, Apple has achieved its reputation through having a sound strategic marketing mix management. What Apple does is consistent with its positioning strategy. For example, Apple’s products are of high quality - that is, both perceived and real. As such, the company’s costing strategy reflects quality. Furthermore, mega dollars are invested in research as well as in the development to ensure that the race for innovation is up to date. The company uses both indirect and direct distribution approaches. It has measures put to ensure its highly regarded products are not sold to resellers who are likely to discount substantially suggested retail prices, thus devaluing its brand.
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Moreover, when presenting its company-owned retail stores, Apple certainly does not economize on quality. Their shop fitting encompasses surgical grade aluminum fixtures patented, floor tiles, and specially crafted timber display tables. It is hard to find another retailer blocking the view of the captivating storefronts in shopping center thoroughfares. The Company leases that space to guarantee that simply does not happen.
Customer service training is patently something Apple considers extremely crucial. It is beyond the usual lip service that businesses using, all too often, well, ‘loosely’. If person takes a malfunctioning iPhone back to an Apple store, it will be replaced if not repaired immediately.
Effects of branding on an organization’s Integrated Market Communication (IMC).
The development of a brand, a branding campaign, and a personality for a brand are critical concepts for IMC professionals. Branding is a unique IMC mix variable because it crosses and affects all other areas of IMC. A brand helps develop continuity for a campaign or product. The brand reflects in almost all IMC executions. Branding brings the creative and business elements of advertising and IMC together. Total understanding of one's brand is necessary for success in executing an IMC campaign.
The brand is a shortcut to emotions and meaning in the customer's mind. The more exposure a brand receives, the more its attributes are known to the customers. Therefore, branding helps to build awareness in the IMC campaign.
The concept of branding describes how people view products as more than a generic product, but also looks at areas such as service, price, brand, and packaging to develop perceptions about the product. In the case of a negative perception on the brand, the consumer will be more willing to listen and even defect to a competitor’s products.
Marketers realized the power their brands had in assisting the consumer in making product choices. Consumers would buy products based upon the brand name more than by looking at the ingredients in the product. They, therefore, discovered the power of brand communication. Although branding is still part of the total product concept, its communicative powers make it a communication variable as well.
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