The word “brand”, when used as a noun, can refer to a company name, a product name, or a unique identifier such as a logo or trademark. There was a time when fences were used in ranching to keep one’s cattle separate from other people’s cattle, ranch owners branded, or marked, their cattle so they could later identify their herd as their own.
The concept of branding also developed through the practices of craftsmen who wanted to place a mark or identifier on their work without detracting from the beauty of the piece. These craftsmen used their initials, a symbol, or another unique mark to identify their work and they usually put these marks in a low visibility place on the product.
Today’s modern concept of branding grew out of the consumer packaged goods industry and the process of branding has come to include much, much more than just creating a way to identify a product or company.
So we can say that branding today is used to create emotional attachment to products and companies. Branding efforts create a feeling of involvement, a sense of higher quality, and an aura of intangible qualities that surround the brand name, mark, or symbol.
Definition of Brand
A Brand can be defined as a name, word, symbol, design, or a picture or a combination of all of them to identify the product and distinguish it from that of the competitors. A brand is an offering from a known source.
A product, but one that adds other dimensions that differentiate it in some way from other products designed to satisfy the same need.
- Rational and tangible
- Symbolic, emotional and intangible
Often confusion exists around the concept of product and brand. Are two the same or different?
It is very important to be clear about the difference between Brands and products. Brands are rarely developed in isolation. They normally fall within a business’ product line or product group.
A Product is anything that is offered in the market for attention, acquisition, use, or consumption. It can be a physical object, service, person, place, organization, idea, or a combination.
A product line is a group of brands that are closely related in terms of their functions and the benefits they provide. A good example would be the range of desktop and laptop computers manufactured by Dell.
A product mix relates to the total set of brands marketed by a business. A product mix could, therefore, contain several or many product lines. The width of the product mix can be measured by the number of product lines that a business offers.
The Product and the Brand
Characteristics of Brand
Our definition of a brand adheres to a model which shows the extent to which a product or service can be augmented to provide added value to increasing levels of sophistication. This model, views a brand as consisting of four levels
The generic level is the commodity form that meets the buyer, or user’s basic needs, for example the car satisfying transportation need. This is the easiest aspect for competitors to copy and consequently successful brands have added values over and above this at the expected level.
Within the expected level, the commodity is value engineered to satisfy a specific target’s minimum purchase conditions, such as functional capabilities, availability, pricing, etc. As more buyers enter the market and as repeat buying occurs, the brand would evolve through a better matching of resources to meet customers’ needs (e.g. enhanced’ customer service).
With increased experience, buyers and users become more sophisticated, so the brand would need to be augmented in more refined ways, with added values satisfying non-functional (e.g. emotional) as well as functional needs. For example, promotions might be directed to the user’s peer group to reinforce his or her social standing through ownership of the brand.
With even more experience of the brand, and therefore with a greater tendency to be more critical, it is only creativity that limits the extent to which the brand can mature to the potential level. For example, grocery retail buyers once regarded the Nestle confectionery brands as having reached the zenith of the augmented stage. To counter the threat of their brands slipping back to the expected brand, level, and therefore’ having to fight on price, Nestle shifted their brands to the potential level by developing software for retailers to manage confectionery shelf space to maximize profitability. Experienced consumers recognize that competing items are often similar in terms of product formulation and that brand owners are no longer focusing only on rational functional issues, but are addressing the potential level of brands.
The benefits of a strong Brand
Here are just a few benefits you will enjoy when you create a strong brand:
- A strong brand influences the buying decision and shapes the ownership experience.
- Branding creates trust and an emotional attachment to your product or company. This attachment then causes your market to make decisions based, at least in part, upon emotion– not necessarily just for logical or intellectual reasons.
- A strong brand can command a premium price and maximize the number of units that can be sold at that premium.
- Branding helps make purchasing decisions easier. In this way, branding delivers a very important benefit. In a commodity market where features and benefits are virtually indistinguishable, a strong brand will help your customers trust you and create a set of expectations about your products without even knowing the specifics of product features.
- Branding will help you “fence off” your customers from the competition and protect your market share while building mind share. Once you have mind share, your customers will automatically think of you first when they think of your product category.
- A brand is something that nobody can take away from you. Competitors may be able to copy your products, your patents will someday expire, trade secrets will leak to the competition, your proprietary manufacturing plant will eventually become obsolete, but your brand will live on and continue to be uniquely yours.
In fact, a strong brand name may be your most valuable asset. Brands help people connect with one another.