An Introduction to Branding and Branding Strategies
In the contemporary business world, the intensity of competition is increasing at a higher rate. For sustaining within the organization and to create brand awareness among the people, it is important to create a strong branding strategy within the organization. For creating a strong branding strategy the first thing that the organization has to do is to analyse and understand the culture and lifestyle of the people. Branding is an important aspect that has to be considered by organizations. The brand determines the position and value for the company among its competitors.
Increased competition in the current business world has increased the importance of branding. It is considered as an important element in marketing campaign. Branding is all about creating an attraction towards the products and services that indirectly benefits the people. The success of both company and product depend upon the efficiency and effectiveness of the branding activities undertaken by the organization.
A powerful brand serves as a competitive advantage for the firm. The demand for the brand indicates that the products or services that are delivered by the organization possess good quality. More than physical aspect it is a mental image created in the minds of the customers. It is not a symbol or logo alone, but it is a means of communication through which it incorporates the quality and image associated with the company. “A brand is the intangible sum of an organization’s attributes, which can include an organization’s name, history, reputation, and advertisement” (Johnson, Zhang & Zhang 2007).
The study is based on the issues related to branding and creating brand image for Academy of Poetry in the Gulf region and Arab world. In UAE “Contemporary media influences and urban living have had an impact on the way these songs, dances and recitations are performed” (Traditional songs & dance, 2009).
For the successful operation of any organization, it is necessary to create a brand. Brand creates an identity for them and the services provided by them. “ADACH is an organisation with far-sighted aspirations – to harness the pride of the people of the UAE through the development of its cultural heritage and to be the leading cultural development organisation in the region” (Celebrating and honouring culture and heritage, 2009).
ADACH has established an academy for poetry. “The Academy plays a key role in investigating and documenting Arabic poetry as well as rehabilitating it as a modern literary genre” (Poetry academy, 2009). “A brand is created by augmenting a core product with distinctive values that distinguish it from the competition. This is the process of creating brand value” (Brands-types, n.d.).
It refers to how the organization has been viewed by the customers from different countries or across the globe. A brand reflects the perception of the customers. “A brand is an organization’s reason for being and how that reason is expressed through its various communications media to its key audiences, including customers, shareholders, employees and analysts” (The importance of branding your new business, 2009).
Branding is an attempt to create an awareness, image and consciousness about the organization or business. Brand image can be defined as “impression in the consumers’ mind of a brand’s total personality (real and imaginary qualities and shortcomings)” (Brand image, 2010).
As far as educational institutions are concerned, creating a competitive environment is more important for them. The upcoming changes in the educational industry have created a strong impact on the importance of branding. The core of every business is its unique brand that distinguishes it from others. “It represents your core values and educational approach to students, parents, stakeholders and the community” (Healthy branding+ healthy marketing = healthy institutions, 2003).
The important thing it has to concentrate is its brand identity. Brand identity can be defined as “How you want the consumer to perceive your product or your brand. Companies try to bridge the gap between the brand image and the brand identity” (Lake 2010). “A strong brand identity can position a company above its competition all by itself” (Swhitey 2010).
In the earlier days, branding was not a serious issue in the educational sector, but now like the other business concerns, branding has gained a lot of popularity in this sector. The increasing educational institutions and the wide range of courses offered by various institutions increased the intensity of competition. Attempts to increase the institutional brand recognition have created impact in the current scenario. Branding is the quickest way through which an organization can express what it is offering and what it can offer to its customers.
Enhancing the customers, increasing the sales volume of the company, and earning profit are very closely related to the branding strategies implemented in the organization. This is very similar to the academic institutions also. If more applicants have to be attracted towards the institution, then it is its responsibility to implement an appropriate branding strategy and branding style that enables to generate a large number of applicants. “In an overcrowded business world, it’s important now more than ever to be confident of you business brand and do the most possible to promote it” (Walsh 2008).
The purpose or aim of the study is an attempt to develop and improve the branding strategy of Academy of Poetry (AOP) in the Gulf region and Arab world and aims at improving the brand awareness among the targeted audience.
Based on the two issues faced by the organization, the study aims to;
- Establish various ways through which the brand image can be increased.
- Establish various criteria that have to be considered before entering into the branding activity.
- Identify the role of branding in academic institutions.
- Identify the various issues that are faced by the academy.
- Identify and analyse the role of culture in branding.
The research objective of the study is to closely inspect the various aspects that have to be considered by the academy for managing certain issues that are faced by the organization, such as marketing and communication issue and branding issues. It also concentrates on various ways that are used for attracting more students and the various ways through which the brand awareness is created.
The research objective is framed to:
- Find various ways to create brand awareness among the broader audience.
- Identifying various steps that have to be undertaken by the organization to create a right brand image in the economy.
The research questions are framed to provide an insight about the academy and the informations that have to be collected for carrying out the project work. The research questions are listed as follows;
- What is brand management and what are the benefits that an organization gains from branding?
- What are the marketing and communication mix that can be used by academy to attract the target customers?
- What are the ways through which brand awareness is created?
- Is there any relation between cultures and branding strategy adopted by the organization?
A Preliminary Literature Review
Brand and Brand image
Brand has emerged as an important factor in the modern society. The customers who intend to buy products or services, first concentrate on the brand and the position of the brand in the market. The brand serves as the face of the company whereby the customers can identify easily by viewing the symbol, logo or the packing and packing style of the product. There is a disagreement regarding the definition of the brand.
Different authors have given various definitions. The two approaches for branding have been found out by some authors. “One is customer based and focuses exclusively on the relationship customers have with the brand (from total indifference to attachment, loyalty and willingness to buy and rebuy based on beliefs of superiority and evoked emotions). The other aims at producing measures in dollars, euros or yen” (Kapferer 2008, p.9).
Brand is not only a word that is associated with the products or packaged goods, but it is also associated with the thought process and the key business strategy of the firm. Brand is not only associated with product manufacturing organization, it is also associated with service organizations. The brand name will be different for different organizations. The traditional definition for the brand was “the name associated with one or more items in the product line that is used to identify the source of character of the items(s).” (Kotler 2000, p.396).
The other definition to the brand given by American Marketing Association is “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 competitors” (Kotler 2000, p.404). Keller (2003a) defines brand as “technically speaking, then, whenever a marketer creates a new name, logo or symbol for a new product, he or she has created a brand”. From these definitions given by different authors, it is very clear that the brands are simple and are easily identifiable.
The focus of branding has been shifted and it has been one of the most important aspects in marketing. In the earlier days, the branding was considered as an offhand fashion, which is a part of the product whereas Kotler (2000) considers branding as the major issue that, is related to the product strategy. Brand was considered as one part of the product and communication strategy that has worked towards increasing and creating brand image. “Aaker (2004) identifies some key internal brand factors that drive successful brands” (Davies & Tutor 2008, p.2).
The key brand factors are heritage, assets and capabilities, people, innovation perceived quality for the customers, local and global orientation, good company vibes and the size and performance of the corporate.
Aaker (2000) describe that the goal for traditional model was to build up a brand image and frame a tactical element that helps in achieving the short-term results. Another author, Kapferer (1997) says that the “brand is a sign – therefore external – whose function is to disclose the hidden qualities of the product which are inaccessible to contact”(p.28). The concept of brand has changed in the modern era. Now the brand serves as an identity of the product that differentiates itself from others. The important challenge for all organizations is to create a powerful and distinctive image for both the product and company.
Brand management and brand strategy
Aaker (2000) discuss the traditional model for brand management. In the traditional model, a brand management team is responsible for creating and coordinating the brand management programme within an organization. The important objective behind the building of brand management team was the coordination between the manufacturing and sales department to derive solutions for the problems that are arising out of the sales and market share. With this strategy, the responsibility of the branding activity was concerned with the marketing department. Most of the companies started on focusing towards the tactical aspect rather than strategic and visionary aspect.
A brand strategy is the thought of translation of the business strategy for a particular market place. It describes the way in which the company has been delivering its product to the market where it is intended and this, in turn, will influence the target customers in creating an image in their mind about the product. Aaker (2000) has provided guidance on the topic brand strategy and stating the importance of the brand in creating customer loyalty and in gaining internal efficiencies. Brand helps an organization in differentiating its products and services from others, this also helps the companies to gain more efficiency in their marketing expenditures, and the activities associated with it.
Importance of Branding
Branding is the process of producing and delivering the brand name of the product and services. Branding is applied to the whole organization’s identity and the products and services as well. Branding enables the organization to gain all the above said benefits through effective and efficient branding strategy;
- Branding enables the designed in such a way that it depicts the overall efficiency of the organization.
- Branding enables in attracting the right prospects at the right time and at the right place.
- An efficient branding strategy enables the organization to identify the values of the customers and thereby reduces the stress.
Creating Brand awareness
Brand awareness is the primary and prerequisite dimension of the entire brand knowledge system in the consumers’ mind, reflecting their ability to identify their brand under certain circumstances. Brand awareness is represented as brand recognition. Brand recognition is the ability of the consumers to identify the brand among a group of competitor’s product.
Brand awareness is an important factor that facilitates the buying decision process of the consumers. It is important that the consumers must be able to recall the product in the specific product category. This is possible only through increasing the awareness among the customers. The awareness increases the probability that the brand will be a member of the consideration set. The brand is commonly referred as the composition of the use of name, design, symbol or term that helps in creating brand awareness and brand awareness and this is the easiest way through which the brand is recognised. The symbols or the marks are registered legally and are copyrighted known as trademarks.
Marketing and communication mix
Organizations use different styles of marketing activities for communicating to the environment. All such decisions are taken based on the experience of the firm. This helps in increasing awareness about the product. Appropriate marketing and communication mix has to be selected.
It plays a significant role in building and creating effective relationship with the customers, stakeholders and helps in leveraging these relations for creating brand equity. Advertising and sales promotion activities undertaken by the organization increase the sales volume. The marketing efforts and outcomes are measured at the brand level and they are central to the firm’s decision related to the marketing activities.
The various marketing and communication mix used by most of the organizations are advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, direct marketing and online marketing. Among these, advertising is the most important. It is a powerful tool, which influences the consumer’s purchasing decision to a higher extent. Sales promotion can be defined as “Sales-stimulation achieved through contests, demonstrations, discounts, exhibitions or trade shows, games, giveaways, point-of-sale displays and merchandising, special offers, etc” (Sales promotion, 2010).
Personal selling is another aspect included in the marketing communication objective. “Unlike advertising, a personal sales message can be more specifically targeted to individual prospects and easily altered if the desired behaviour does not occur” (Business glossary: Personal selling, 2010).
The process of branding is an action where the publics are attracted through announcements that are paid in nature. Advertising is the method whereby the customers become active partners in the economic cycle and it helps the people to choose the best product that satisfies their needs. Therefore, while advertising the companies should adopt appropriate advertising strategy through which the message can be conveyed to the customer correctly.
The Detailed Research Methodology
Identification of research methodologies employed has much significance in the preparation of dissertations.
Our dissertation is on branding and branding image, so it is important to understand what branding research is in search of. It is being widely accepted that “Branding Research answers, “How do people perceive your product, service, company or personality?”” (Branding research to manage perceptions, 2002).
How effectively the product or service reaches the target market and even others are mostly identified by effective branding strategies. Thus, it is important to have a critical analysis on the matter of methodologies used in conducting research on it. “A dissertation’s methodology consists of four parts: participants, instruments, procedures, and data analysis” (Dissertation & research methodology help self-help articles for dissertation students & researchers, 2007).
Qualitative research requires case studies, observation, informal interviews, use of secondary data and observation. Observation is done directly or indirectly termed as participant and non-participant manner. Each observation technique has overt and covert approaches. In quantitative research, there is a slight difference from qualitative approach.
It requires content analysis, experiments, use of secondary data and surveys that can be based on questionnaires or structured interviews. Secondary data is used for getting accurate official statistics. At this instance, it becomes necessary to identify whether this dissertation is quantitative or qualitative. “In the case of brand management research, most studies are of the case-study type (Stake, 1994) where one, or a few, successful companies’ branding strategies are described in detail” (Belk 2006, p.92). The statement points to the fact that branding researches are mostly qualitative researches.
Therefore, the same is true for this dissertation as well. The next requisite is to seek out various steps for implementing the research taken up. It will be best to “use a combination of focus groups, one-to-one interviews with business investors and the trade as well as future scenario workshops” (Morgan, Pritchard & Pride 2002, p.60).
The target groups are identified and are focussed while initiating steps in branding strategy. Interviews with individuals as well as groups are conducted to draw various conclusions regarding those. Workshops are conducted to recognize, develop and utilize potential state of affairs. The combined applications of above stated methods will yield better results for this dissertation. “Qualitative Research is used when more in depth or perceptual data is required, and where it is less critical to elicit generalizable results as you would in large scale surveys” (Qualitative market research, 2000).
Entire critical approach thus becomes depicted within the qualitative approach adopted.
Qualitative research includes interviews, which become effective mode of achieving required illustrations and conclusions. In conducting interviews, certain methodologies should be followed. The questions to be asked to the person-facing interview are to be formed prior to arranging such sessions. The selection of questions is to be made after analysing what is required and what is to be met. The questions can be divergent or convergent type i.e. a question can just relate to a specific factor alone or can be used to drag out ideas from the person under test. For the dissertation I intend to do, it will be better to use open questions giving the interviewed a chance to express all relevant ideas he has regarding the matter he is asked about.
The selection of qualitative research is opted because it best suits a student working on dissertation. It is being recognized that academic researches and even branding ones are properly attached to qualitative method rather than quantitative method. The learning style and approaches of management studies can be developed considerably with the adoption of qualitative research. This helps students achieve a batter pace in research studies and interpretations. “Qualitative research is exploratory and inductive in nature” (The qualitative debate: The qualitative-quantitative debate, 2006). Students are people under exploration and so it becomes anther evidence for appropriateness of qualitative methodology.
“Quantitative research is generally better at answering the “how much/many” questions, while qualitative research is better at answering the “why”” (Qualitative research, 2009). Our objective is to identify branding and creating brand image for Academy of Poetry in the Gulf region and Arab world, which requires reasoning than numbering which approaches to necessity of qualitative research leaving behind the other approaches.
The dissertation to be developed will have following outline consisting of five chapters as a whole on the background of systematic validation. The names and details of the chapters are given:
- Chapter 1: Preface and Background
- This chapter deals with stating and identification of the topic ‘branding and creating brand image for Academy of Poetry in the Gulf region and Arab world’. The detailing on branding strategies along with proper definitions and scope of research is explicitly added. The relevance and significance of the research and topic is explained with clear content of text. The background and outlook to the same is stated and analysed to lead to subsequent chapters.
- Chapter 2: Literature Review
- Various literatures relevant to the topic are selected and critically analysed between words and ideas. The areas related to the topic selected are explored to seek out all applicable verse. Management and marketing strategies of branding are identified and crucially studied and included. The selected literatures are from relevant authors and topics only.
- Chapter 3: Line of Approach
- The procedures and steps executed amidst the research flow are stated clearly with their relevance and substance. The methods employed in gathering information are experienced advice accompanied by various analytical structuring to deduce necessary wrapping up. Critical analysis is carried out to seek appropriate mode for research. Entire methods utilized along with their specific importance in the research work are explained.
- Chapter 4: Outcomes
- The results section includes entire outcomes of research. Even the minute results are analysed and stated. The collected data and interview outcomes along with responses from the experienced hands are depicted in this section. The whole research is concluded in a very efficient manner with effective interpreted data and evidence. The outcomes of entire strategy and policies implemented are stated clearly.
- Chapter 5: Recommendations and Suggestions
- The recommendations and suggestions section states about all crucial identifications through completed research. The conclusion and proposition are interconnected in such a way that maximum strategic advancements can be attained. The limitations and flaws possible in the course of research are sorted out under this chapter. The probable success and failure are carefully discussed. The expectations of research study and possible advancements at later stages are properly stated and explained.
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