Branding: Managing Brand Over Time

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Introduction

Brands have for decades enabled companies to survive the test of time in the market. They are the most valuable assets in the marketing industry today. Companies keep on changing their brands to remain strong in the market. Various reasons may prompt a company to change its brand: firstly, when the customers get older, their lifestyle, values, and priorities also change (Berry 1988, par. 23). The brand has to change to accommodate this change. The other reason is the emergence of new competitors in the market. The brand needs to be changed to remain superior over that of the competitors. The last reason is that the brand environment is changing with time and the producer needs to adapt to the changes.

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The popular brands we have today like Coca-Cola and Michelin have been in the market for over a century and they are still among the market leaders. Still, many companies were born about the same time as coca-cola yet they have been thrown out of the market. The success of a company depends on how smart they play their branding game (King 1970, p.89). Why is it that some brands last long in the market while others fade out immediately after they hit the market?

The purpose of this report is to explore the challenges that companies encounter while managing their brands over time and figure out the brand management strategies that can be adopted to sustain brands for a longer period. Chapter 2 begins by defining brand, branding, brand management, and some other related facts. Chapter 3 explores a case study of the coca-cola company. It explains how coca-cola has grown and managed its brands to remain outstanding in the market. Chapter 4 tries to explain the key concepts of managing a brand over time. Chapter 5 is about how to manage a brand over time. Chapter 6 is about factors to consider while selecting a brand. The other chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 explains the challenges of brand management, qualities of a good brand name, functions of a brand, conclusion, and references

Definition of Brand, Branding, Brand Management, and some other related facts

As defined by American Marketing Association (AMA), a brand is a distinguishing name and/or symbol (such as a logo, trademark, or package design) intended to identify the goods or services of either one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate those goods or services from those of competitors. Branding is simply getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem by presenting the best brand to them. On the other hand, Brand management is the art of creating and maintaining a brand. It can also be best described as the use of marketing principles to a specific product or brand to increase the products perceived worth to the customers (Aaker 2004, p, 28). This also raises the product’s area monopoly and brand equity which also increase the product’s sale.

The effectiveness of a brand greatly depends on the value it is perceived to have by the customers. Hall (2000) argued that the whole value of a brand as perceived in the market is fixed by the customers and not the marketers or the brand managers. The impression that a brand creates in the minds of the customer depends on the interaction of the customer with the brand. The customer interacts with the brands when the brand is being advertised or when the customer visits the website. Other points of interaction happen when the customer is using the brand or when the brand is still in the store.

For a brand to remain a distinguishing name of a good or a service, it has to be well managed over time (Keller 2008, par.28). In an advertising theme, branding is one of the most effective and valued elements that best stipulate what the brand owner can offer in the market. A brand has to be well managed over time so that it can be effective for a longer.

How Coca-Cola has grown and managed its Brands to remain outstanding in the market

One of the best companies that have excelled in branding is Coca-Cola Company. This company offers a variety of soft drinks and beverages products. It has survived the market because of its excellent market strategy. It enjoys monopoly privileges in most parts of the world in selling soft drinks with a portfolio of about 3000 beverages in over 200 countries. In 2003 for instance, the company launched a new brand called Coca-Cola ‘real’ which fetched a huge market to back up vanilla coke, diet vanilla coke, and diet coke. This shows a strong marketing and branding strategy. The company was born in 1886 in Atlanta and has since then spread in almost all parts of the world. In its first year of operation; it could only sell 9 glasses of beverages a day but today it is selling about 1.4 billion beverages. Coca-cola was registered as a trademark in 1893 and it became a brand name. Coca-Cola as a soft drink is available in several flavors including Cola, Cola Green Tea, Cola Lemon Lime, Cola Orange, Cola Lime, Cola Orange, and Cola Raspberry. All these flavors make the company survive the market. Apart from soft drinks, the company sells other products like energy drinks, water, fruit drinks, teas and coffees, 100% fruit juices et cetera. Each of these drink types has different brands. In total, coca-cola has about 400 brands in the market. These products increase the surface of interaction with the customer because they are many and available in almost all countries. Through offering many drinks each with a different brand, has made coca-cola remain popular for over a century. There has been continuous growth of the product. This shows the application of brand concept management strategy which is explained in detail in chapter 4.

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Key Concepts of Managing Brands over Time

Managing a brand over time means maintaining the image of a product over time to reap its benefits. The image of the product that is created into the minds of the people needs to be maintained and where necessary be modified to suit the changing needs of the people. A marketer needs to select the meaning of a brand long before entering the market. In other words, the marketer has to identify the needs of the customers and come up with the brand that suits their needs before entering the market. The selected meaning of the brand needs to be presented in the form of an image which is now managed over time. This is what determines the success of a brand. According to Kapferer (1997), a brand image affects sales directly and also touches the relationship between the product lifecycle strategies and sales. Therefore, a well-managed brand will increase both the sales and the product lifecycle.

How to Manage Brand Concept

Goodyear, (1993) stated that managing a brand concept entails the art of selecting, implementing, and monitoring a brand image over some time to enhance its performance in the market. The whole process of selection, introduction, elaboration, and fortifying of a brand image only holds if the brand concept is well managed.

There are three types of brand concepts; these include functional concept, experiential concept, and symbolic concept which are all based on consumer needs. (Gelder 2005, par. 24).

The functional concept of a brand seeks to meet the immediate needs of the consumer, also referred to as the externally derived consumer needs (Leslie 1998, par. 16)

Symbolic concept on the other hand seeks to satisfy ego-driven needs or those needs that are associated with self-enhancement or self-fulfillment.

Lastly, the experiential concept of a brand stimulates sensory pleasure. That is it satisfies the needs that are stimulus or variety which are internally generated. For a product to satisfy these needs, it has to have an experiential concept.

Once the brand concept has been selected, the three concept management strategies are carried out. These are introduction, elaboration, and fortification. The introductory part is carried out during the market entry and it entails positioning the brand image in the marketplace for the first time. This is the first time the image is hitting the market and it has to be done in a very strategic manner to attract many people. It has to create a positive image in the minds of the consumer if the other stages have to succeed. This stage gives the producer a rough idea of whether the product image will survive the test of times in the market.

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The other stage is the elaboration stage. According to Tilde and colleagues (2009), this stage aims at adding value to the product image to make it mere superior to the competitors in the same market. This can be done by extending product usage into multiple usages.

The final stage, called the fortification stage, is meant to link the other products of the company to the already elaborated product. For instance in the case of coca-cola, if the vanilla coke was the first to be introduced into the market, after its elaboration, the other two products, vanilla diet coke, and diet coke can be fortified. The success of these stages depends on the impact created by the introductory stage.

To realize a competitive advantage over time, brand concept management can be used as a long-term investment (Trout 2001, p.324). It can also be useful in creating a long-term relationship with the customers. Many companies are going out of business due to a lack of proper brand concept management. Since coca-cola hit the market in 1886, it has released thousands of products in its fortification stage of brand concept management. It has moved from selling 9 glasses of beverage a day in 1886 to about 1.4 billion beverage servings sold a day today. It also has more than 400 brands in the market today. This is a remarkable improvement. The secret being identifying the needs of the people and coming up with the brand that best satisfies them. The most important thing is managing the brand well to maintain it in the market. According to Jagdish Seth (1995), consumers build a strong relationship with the brand because of continuous interaction with the brand. The brand concept management ensures that there is continuity of interaction between the consumers and the brand. It also provides a collection of choices to the customers as it goes through its three stages. It is therefore a good market strategy that many businesses should adopt.

Factors to Consider while Selecting a Brand

The success of a brand greatly depends on the qualities that are created in the minds of the customers. A company creating a brand has to consider what it perceives to be good quality and what the customers consider as quality (King 1970, p. 35). If these two perceptions are well connected, then the brand will be very successful. Knowing the needs of the customers is the most winning point of branding. Once the company knows what the peoples’ needs are, it is possible to come up with the brand that will best solve their problems. For instance, vanilla coke, diet vanilla coke, and diet coke are related products put in the same product line. The brands are appealing in the view of the customers appear to best suit their needs for diet-adding drinks.

Challenges of Brand Management

There are so many challenges that surround brand concept management and every company needs to strategize on how to survive amidst these challenges. One of the challenges is how to grow the brand to keep pace with the growing customers and at the same time remain consistent in quality (Leslie 1998, p.67). The growth of customers is in two dimensions; growth in age and number. When customers grow in age their needs and preferences also change. The producer needs to grow the brand to meet the needs of these customers (Goodyear 1993, par. 36). Growth in number also needs to be taken care of. The producer should come up with many brands or extend the existing brands to reach all the customers. The other big challenge is to change as you grow. The brand needs to be changed as you grow. The other challenge is to ensure you remain relevant as you grow. Last but not least is to be innovative. Where innovation fails means that the brand will die with time. All these challenges need to be addressed if the brands were to survive the test of time in the competitive market.

Qualities of a Good Brand Name

The producer designing a brand name must put into consideration the following factors:

A brand name or a trademark must be protectable or protected under the trademark law so that no other company will use the same to promote their products. The producer must ensure that all the requirements of the trademark law are fulfilled. This makes the company reap the best of the brand name. This is because the company will be free to advertise its product everywhere without any restriction.

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The brand name must not be too complicated to pronounce. It must be easy to pronounce by the customers who are targeted by it. A too complicated brand name will not accomplish its purpose. This is because the targeted people will not get its meaning and therefore will not respond as expected.

Brand name must also be recognizable. People must recognize the product when they set the first site on the brand name. The brand name, though brainstorming, should be easily recognizable (Gelder 2005, par. 45). For instance, most of the Coca-Cola products bear the name coke which best identifies the company, and is easily recognizable. A brand name becomes more effective when the brand name is part of the company name or bears the company name. People notice the company first and then the products.

Since the targeted people are of different nationalities and they speak different languages, the brand name should one that can be translated easily in all languages where it is used. Unless this is taken care of, the brand name, however simple, will communicate nothing because people cannot understand the language used (Aaker). The translation should also be done correctly so that the original message is communicated across all regions.

A good brand name should describe product benefits or suggest the usage of the product. This will help the customers understand the product well and have confidence in it.

Since there are so many companies producing the same product, care must be taken to ensure that the brand name does not infringe on an existing name. Careful research must be carried out to ensure that the brand name comes up with does not exist so that conflicts do not arise between companies. The law requires that if a company infringes another company’s brand name and is issued it will pay the aggrieved company some money. This will be a loss to the company and can also injure the company’s reputation. Due care should be taken to avoid it.

Due to high competition in the market, the company’s brand name must be superior to a group of other brands for it to be beneficial to the company. This calls for thorough market research to ascertain what the competitors have already released in the market before one forms a brand name.

Lastly, when highlighting the technological features of the brand name, numerals should be used. This is to point out clearly what the brand entails.

All these qualities must be put into consideration when designing a brand name. This makes it very effective and beneficial to both the consumers and the producers. It will also give the company a competitive edge in the market and make the brand name stand out among many other brands in the company (Dighton 1985, par. 34)

Functions of Brand to Both the Consumer and the Producer

To the Consumer

A brand has significant benefits both to the producer and also to the consumer. Firstly, the brand has to identify the source of the product. By seeing the brand, the consumer must be able to recognize the source of the product. For instance, the three-line products of Coca-Cola have the name coke that makes the consumer acknowledge the source of the product with ease. Secondly, the brand must act as a signal of the quality of the product. What the customer buys is the quality of the product. The brand therefore must announce the quality of the product to the consumer. For example, in the brand coca-cola ‘real’, the word real is a mark of quality. Consumers are looking for something real but not a counterfeit. The brand to the consumer will also act as a mark of assignment of responsibility to the product maker (Keller). Should the product be harmful to the consumer, the product maker should bear the responsibility. It will be easier to trace the product source because the brand will indicate so.

To the Producer

To the producer, on the other hand, branding is a means of identification to ease tracing or handling (Lake 2003, p.56). This helps the customer to trace the product and the source with ease.

A brand also acts as a signal to the producer of quality level to satisfied consumers or customers (Olin 2003, par. 7). For satisfied customers, the launching of a new brand will not affect their consumption level of the product. This determines how the next brand will look like.

It is also a strong tool for increasing financial returns to the producer (Keller). This is because a brand increases the volume of a product consumed within a particular period. This means the company is making huge returns when the brand is performing well.

A brand also means endowing products with unique associations that best suit the market at a given time (Keller). The product is associated with names that best describe what the customers are looking for. The product, therefore, wins the confidence of the people/ consumers.

Conclusion

Managing the brand concept over time remains the most effective market strategy. Companies need to adopt the process of brand concept management for them to remain competitive. The interest of the customers can only be won through a constant pursuit of innovation and renewal which is the basic element of brand concept management (Hall 1998, p.65).

The key elements of strong brands are relevance, consistency, and differentiation which all meltdown to brand concept management. It is not optional to adopt a brand management concept for a company or business wishing to shine in a competitive market. It is mandatory; otherwise, the dream to shine will remain a mirage.

References

Aaker, D. 2004. Brand Portfolio Strategy. New York, Free Press

Berry, N. C. 1988. Revitalizing Brands. The Journal of Consumer Marketin

Deighton, J. 1985. McNeil Consumer Products Company: Tylenol, University of Chicago. Graduate School of Business Case Stud

Gelder, V. 2005. Global Brand Strategy: Unlocking Brand Potential across Countries, Culture  & Markets. London, Kogan page

Goodyear, M. 1993. Reviewing the concept of brands and branding. New Jersey, Prentice Hall Hall, M. 1998. New Steps on the Advertising Timeline. US APG Conference

Jagdish, S 1995. Relationship Marketing in Consumer Markets: Antecedents and consequences. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 23(4): 255-271.

Kapferer, J. 1997. Strategic Brand Management: Creating and sustaining Brand Equity long-term. London, Kogan Page

Keller, K., 2008. Strategic brand management. London, Prentice Hall.

King, S. 1970. What is a brand? London, J. Walter Thompson.

Lake, L. 2003. What is branding and how and how important is it to your marketing strategy? New York. Wiley, John & Sons

Leslie, C. 1998. Creating Powerful Brands. Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann.

Olin, W. 2003. On Brand. London: Thames & Hudson Tilde Heding,

Charlotte F. and Knudtzen Mogens Bjerre. 2009. Brand management: research, theory and practice. Denmark, Routledge.

Trout, J. 2001. Big Brands Big Trouble: Lessons learned the hard way. NewYork, John, Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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