Definition of branding The definition of branding can be summarized as, “a brand is a term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of these that is intended to identify the product or a seller and to differentiate it from those of competitors” (Okonkwo 2007, 9). Branding is the process of creating an identifiable entity of the total offerings of a company which make consistent and precise promises of value, thus providing the consumers with the best experience of using those offerings. An effective brand strategy provides a business with a significant edge amidst the increasingly competitive markets.
Brand is a company’s promise to its consumers. Brand suggests what expectations can the consumers assign to the products and/or services offered by the company. Brand makes the offering stand out from a range of similar offerings by the competitors. The brand is derived from what a company is, what is its mission and vision, and how it wants to be perceived by the consumers. A logo lays the foundation of a brand. The website, promotional materials, packaging, and ads of a company are all integrated in the company’s logo, so a company is able to communicate to the consumers.
The brand strategy is crafted by what about, when, where, how, and to whom a company wants to communicate and convey the messages. The choice and platform of advertisements, the visual and verbal elements of communication are all essential components of the brand strategy just like the distribution channels. A company can develop a strong brand equity by adopting consistently strategic branding. Brand equity means the added value assigned to the offerings of a company which provides the company with an opportunity to charge the consumers more for the brand compared to what unbranded identical product making companies are charging.
Coke vs any soda is an obvious example of this; Coca-Cola can charge customers more for its drinks without having the customers turned away because Coke has a strong brand equity whereas a generic soda might not even get half as many customers even by charging them much lesser than Coke. The added value is built in the form of emotional attachment or perceived quality.
For example, Nike keeps star athletes in its ads and promotional campaigns anticipating the transfer of the customers’ emotional attachment with those star athletes to Nike’s products. This implies that it is more than just the features of Nike shoes which plays an important role in their selling out. Defining its brand for a company is more like a self-discovery business journey. Defining the brand can be time-consuming and complicated as it requires a company to clearly lay out its mission, the intended features of its products and/or services, the benefits they would generate for the consumers, the prospective or desired image of the company, and the consumers’ existing association with the company.
Objectives of branding The objective of branding is to create wealth, customer loyalty, and most importantly influence in the market. The goal of branding is to encourage the consumers to purchase the offering repeatedly. Brands are robust symbolic entities with a lot of social impact which paves the way for increased loyalty on the part of the consumers. Brands are considered as communicators since they communicate the name, trademark, logo, type, communicating positioning, and contriving identity.
Brands play the role of value enhancers as they are visualized to carry additional values which are linked with a company and the products and/or services it offers. Having a company branded means that the quality of its offerings is guaranteed to the consumers. Brands help build relationships between companies and the consumers. It is the objective of branding to get the offerings of a company differentiated from those of its competitors so that the product and/or service can be easily recognized by the consumers.
Another objective of branding is to launch activities of promotion. These activities may include but are not limited to personal selling, advertisement, sales promotion, and publicity. One of the primary objectives of branding is to maintain the durability and high quality of the offerings for which they are valued by the consumers. Using brand name loses all significance and weight if a company fails to maintain the quality of its offerings. Branding provides a firm with legal protection and helps the company overcome legal obstacles. Summing them up, the objectives of branding, on one hand, are directed at producing quality products and/or services, and on the other hand, they are directed at fostering the relationship between consumers and the company producing those products and/or services.
The development of a brand The first and the foremost requirement of developing a brand is to have a logo that can be placed everywhere. Next comes the stage of crafting brand message. The company should write down the key messages that it wants to communicate through its brand. These brand attributes should be well known to each and every employee of the company so that all employees can display these attributes in their dealings with the customers.
Branding is not limited to just one aspect of a business i. e. marketing or selling; rather branding is intrinsically related to all aspects of the business ranging from addressing the customers’ complaints, communicating with customers professionally, and doing the maximum possible to keep the customers happy and entertained. The company needs to create its own voice that would reflect its brand. This voice is incorporated in all materials’ visual imagery and written communication.
The company should constantly evaluate where the brand lies on the scale with friendliness on one extreme and formality on the other. Ideally, a brand should lie in the middle of such a scale so that customers are dealt with in a friendly as well as a professional manner by the company’s staff. Writing a meaningful, concise, and memorable statement which contains a brand’s essence helps in the development of a tagline. The color scheme, look, feel, and logo placement should consistently be the same in all products and/or services, their marketing campaigns, and promotional platforms.
How Gucci developed its brand Gucci is a famous brand for luxury accessories and fashion wear. Gucci puts in a lot of effort in its branding. Gucci’s 90th anniversary celebration was year-long and completed with the establishment of a whole “branded museum in the Palazzo della Mercanzia located in Italian city Florence’s Piazza Signoria” (Hutzler 2011). There are three separate floors in the Gucci Museo each of which is dedicated to the permanent branded exhibits that narrate the brand’s story to the visitors.
There has been noticed an increase in the museum exhibits by top brands which shows that top brands feel the need to justify why they charge such high prices to the customers by telling them their history and brand’s story and worth. Branding expert Rob Frankel said, “After creating and building a brand, it’s critically important to nurture and sustain the value of the brand… This is where most brands fall down. They simply create it and hope it thrives, …But when a brand takes steps to show that it believes its own brand is worth cultivating, it makes a statement to the public” (Frankel cited in Hutzler 2011).
There are three shops, one café, and several rooms for exhibition inside the Gucci Museo. With the café being located at the museum’s entrance, the tourists are enticed to meet the locals in a coffeehouse. Such meetings promote an understanding of the importance of a brand even to the ones who are very remotely aware of it. Gucci provides an example of a top brand that invests heavily in its branding, but the investment brings about far more profit in return.
References: Okonkwo, U 2007, Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques, Palgrave Macmillan, Hutzler, K 2011, Gucci emphasizes brand value with independent museum, Luxury Daily, [Online] Available at http: //www. luxurydaily. com/gucci-celebrates-90-years-highlights-quality-with-branded-museum/ [accessed: 14 April 2015].