Consumers are human beings. They know brands, express about brands, think about brands, recommend brands, reject brands, buy brands but do not buy brands through a combination of Brand name, Brand associations, Brand attitude, Brand looks and brand personality.
All these are not just a matter of semantics. These are specific manageable concepts, born and brought up in the minds and hearts of consumers, linked to each other in more than one ways. These if added to a product, lead to the creation of a brand. These form part of the suggested process of Branding, and together lead to Brand Relationship, the output of the process of Branding.
Branding is a process, a tool, a strategy and an orientation.
Branding is the process by which a marketer tries to build long term relationship with the customers by learning their needs and wants so that the offering (brand) could satisfy their mutual aspirations.
Branding can be viewed as a tool to position a product or a service with a consistent image of quality and value for money to ensure the development of a recurring preference by the consumer. It is a common knowledge that the consumer’s choice is influenced by many surrogates of which the simplest one is a brand name. Although there may be equally satisfying products, the consumer when satisfied with some brand does not want to spend additional effort to evaluate the other alternative choices. Once he or she has liked a particular brand, he or she tends to stay with it, unless there is a step rise in the price or a discernible better quality product comes to his/her knowledge which prompts the consumer to switch the brand
Branding can be used as a differentiation strategy when the product cannot be easily distinguished in terms of tangible features (which invariably happens in case of many CNDs, service and even durables) or in products, which are perceived as a commodity (e.g. cement, fertilizer, salt, potato chips etc.) In all such situations marketers use branding as a differentiation strategy and try to develop and deliver customized products and auxiliary services with tailor –made communications to match with the customer’s self – image. Such differentiation is an on-going process and the initial and on-going actions are depicted in Exhibit 2.1:
Table: Differentiation Mechanism in Brand Building
Brand building is a conscious customer-satisfaction orientation process. The brand owner tries to retain you as a customer to its fold over their competitions by a mix of hardware and software because when you feel satisfied you may develop a kind of loyalty for the same. Therefore, a strong brand, apart from name, symbol or design, ensures quality, stability of assured future market and effective utilization of assets. Further, a strong brand, which a retailer wants to stock because of high customer pull, also provides the owner of the brand with a platform for the sale of additional products.
We can describe Brand symbol as a visual entity and includes Brand Character and Brand Logo. Both are elements of brand identity. Brand Symbols lead to:
- Awareness of brand, e.g. the Doughboy for Pillsbury, the Captain for Captain Cook, the devil for ONIDA, Gattu for Asian Paints, the rabbit for Energizer, and the penguin for Kelvinator.
- Brand associations, e.g. lightning for Rin, jetfighter for Jet Mosquito repellents, rose for breeze, lime for Cinthol Fresh and mangoes for Frooti.
- Likeability and positive feelings, e.g. McDonalds (Ronald’s) smile and Amul Girl.
- Stronger memories for the brand, e.g. Jolly green Giant, which is present on all packs of Green Giant products, and Amul girl.
Brand symbols can be created across ten concepts in order to add value to brands:
- Non-living characters, e.g. Jolly Green Giant, Doughboy for Pillsbury, Captain Cook, strongman for MRF tyres, lady Milkmaid, two men for Citibank, cricketer batsman for MILO.
- Animal, e.g. tiger for Tiger Biscuits, tortoise for Tortoise Coils, camel for Camel cigarettes, robbin bird for Robin Blue, crocodile for Lacoste, black cat for Eveready and penguin for Kelvinator.
- Nature, e.g. coconut tree(s) in Parachute, apple in Apple Computers, lightning in Rin, rising sun for Aditya Birla group, rose in Breeze, butterfly for HPCL, sunrays in Sunlight detergents, lime in Cinthol Fresh soap and mangoes in Frooti.
- Pack, e.g. bottle of Coke.
- Things, e.g. wheel for Wheel detergents and cup for Nescafe, dagger for Dettol and tooth for Pepsodent.
- People, e.g. mother with sleeping child for Good Knight, a range of faces for Fair Glow, a girl in a frock for Nirma and babies for Farex.
- Geometric shapes, e.g. Maruti, Power, HP, BPCL, Whirlpool, Castrol, Ceat, and Britannia.
- Scenes, e.g. Marlboro country, and Liril waterfall.
- Monuments, e.g. Taj Mahal for Tata tea, Red forte for Lal Quila rice, and Charminar for Charminar
- Logo, e.g. Pepsi (more on logos in next section). When none of the above exist for a brand, its logo is the only symbol.
Marketers develop living or non-living characters and add personality and meaning to it in the context of brand development. These characters give rise to Brand Symbols.
Marketers present their brand character in a static manner. Captain Cook does not walk and Mc Donald’s sits. However to create likeability among consumers, their interactivity (i.e not static) could be exploited. Doughboy plays a role in the ads of Pillsbury. Internationally, the movements and action of Doughboy have been defined. Its ‘belly poke and giggle’ was used in the launch ad of Pillsbury atta in India. Apart from making the character loveable, this action is supposed to connote softness of the chapatti made from the product. When the Doughboy interacts with the housewife playfully with humour, it is projecting the interaction with the brand of the housewife. The brand’s pack or logo cannot do this.
It has been observed that 80% of consumers’ learning happens through their eyes. It is easier to link in memory visual elements (e.g. Brand Character) rather than words (e.g. Brand Names). Hence it is for the marketer to decide/plan to exploit the opportunity provided by the Brand Character in the process of creating learning about the brand. Obviously, a character is of no use if it is linked in memory to a brand name, and advertising has to do this job.
The overall research process to decide on a brand character involves both qualitative and quantitative research.
In order to make a word in a page standout, we highlight it, underline it or circle it. This increases the noticeability. It gives an identity to the word. Similarly, for a brand name to stand our marketers use shapes and colours. This we see on packs and across communication media. This combination of shape and colour is called Brand Logo. Note that the brand name may or may not form a part of it, e.g. Coca-Cola is in the logo, but Pepsi is not.
The Brand Logo stay in the mind with colour distinctiveness. It is the visual signature of the brand. It is a long-term property of a brand and need to be handled cautiously. Each brand has a logo, though the elements of the logo vary across brands.
Elements of a brand:
A brand logo consists of five distinct elements:
- Brand Name: ( Castrol in Castrol Logo)
- Geometric Shape: This includes non – copy visuals like Maruti, whirlpool, Star TV, Maggi and Nestle have.
- Colour: This is a necessary condition as the brand name also is in the colour and the latter is a necessary condition for a brand logo.
- Slogan: Brand slogan in the brand logo is a rare observation. One such example is Britannia: Eat Healthy, think Better.
- Font: All copy matter including the brand name has a specific font, e.g. Coca –Cola is always written in a particular manner.
Brand Equity is the price at which the brand can be sold by one organisation to another. Building brand equity requires a significant effort, and some companies use alternative means of achieving the benefits of a strong brand.