Introduction to Brands
Brands and Branding
Branding is a strategy that is used by marketers. Pickton and Broderick (2001) describe branding as Strategy to differentiate products and companies, and to build economic value for both the consumer and the brand owner.
- A brand is an identity that includes all sorts of components; depending on the brand e.g. Body Shop International encapsulates ethics, environmentalism and political beliefs.
- A brand is an image where the consumer perceives a brand as representing a particular reality e.g. Stella Artois Reassuring Expensive.
- A brand is a relationship where the consumer reflects upon him or herself through the experience of consuming a product or service.
Brand occupies space in the perception of the consumer, and is what results from the totality of what the consumer takes into consideration before making a purchase decision (Pickton and Broderick 2001).
So branding is a strategy, and brand is what has meaning to the consumer.
There are some other terms used in branding. Brand Equity is the addition of the brand’s attributes including reputation, symbols, associations and names. Then the financial expression of the elements of brand equity is called Brand Value.
There are a number of interpretations of the term brand (De Chernatony 2003). They are summarized as follows:
- A brand is simply a logo e.g. McDonald’s Golden Arches.
- A brand is a legal instrument, existing in a similar way to a patent or copyright.
- A brand is a company e.g. Coca-Cola.
- A brand is shorthand – not as straightforward. Here a brand that is perceived as having benefits in the mind of the consumer is recognised and acts as a shortcut to circumvent large chunks of information. So when searching for a product or service in less familiar surroundings you will conduct an information search. A recognised brand will help you reach a decision more conveniently.
- A brand is a risk reducer. The brand reassures you when in unfamiliar territory.
- A brand is positioning. It is situated in relation to other brands in the mind of the consumer as better, worse, quicker, slower, etc.
- A brand is a personality, beyond function e.g. Apple’s iPod versus just any MP3 player.
- A brand is a cluster of values e.g. Google is reliable, ethical, invaluable, innovative and so on.
- A brand is a vision. Here managers aspire to see a brand with a cluster of values. In this context vision is similar to goal or mission.
- A brand is added value, where the consumer sees value in a brand over and above its competition e.g. Audi over Volkswagen, and Volkswagen over Skoda – despite similarities.