THE POWER OF BRANDS
Dr. Hemant C Trivedi
Mudra Institute of
“What is there in a name?” asked the famous
playwright ages ago, but than the power of a name is vindicated in
the strong brand names that ring through the populations across
continents. Today nobody questions, what is there in a name! The
very existence of major corporate entities depends on the power of
their brand names.
Branding - A Strategic
Amongst other things, branding
becomes a strong tool for the development of a marketing strategy.
JK Industries operates with the JK Tyre brand at the premium end
with its radial, and the brand Vikrant at the medium and lower ends.
Branding does not only help in giving an identity to a product, it
also helps in developing a differentiation strategy; P&G offers
thirty two different brands of detergents, each differentiated from
each other on customer need identification. Thus branding decisions
become a major component in marketing-man's arsenal. With a sound
strategic approach a brand can signify many things at the same time.
For example, Tata, a surname of Parsi community is an umbrella brand
for a large range of products selling in myriad markets. While it is
respected equally well in all product categories that it sells, it
has a promise of freshness in Tata tea, and the advantage of iodine
in Tata salt, while a strong contender for the most advanced wholly
Indian car in Tata Indica. Marketers through creative message
development and execution derive a lot of mileage from a brand.
Maggi spends Millions of Rupees just to convince the customer that
the tomato ketchup is ‘different'.
What A Brand Should Be
Observing and analyzing many strong
brands it is evident that a strong brand should represent a strong
value proposition, a benefit sought, a promise fulfilled. The recent
sale of IBM's PC division to China 's Lenovo Group is a great
example of modern day power of brands . The success of ‘Promise toothpaste in the early
years is to quite a degree attributed to the promise of the age old
clove oil remedy for toothache. Today Close-up still achieves
tremendous score in the fresh breath promise, so much so that the
number one brand Colgate has to devise a totally new campaign to
beat the promise of fresh breath by their own ‘Talk to me' version.
As a brand, Close-up sports a name with a meaning that's totally
appropriate to the brand's own core benefit (the confidence to get
up close with the opposite sex). Colgate on the other hand manages an overall top
brand position in a vast, diverse market, through a common appeal.
By defining it value set in universal terms. Colgate portrays itself
with its protective ‘ring of confidence' as an oral health ensurer.
Thus, the brand is ‘one thing to all people', and has not wavered in
the single-mindedness of its proposition down the years, developing
a high degree of brand integrity.
But brand integrity should not
restrict strategic flexibility. So long as brand cohesion is not
harmed, Colgate lets its sub-brands use numerous other
sub-propositions too. Maruti while stands for the most modern
technology car, has a fuel efficient small car luxury offering Zen,
while the most economical large cabin space Omni, and the status
enhancing Esteem, and then the common man's Frontie is for all.
While not doing much for its all terrain Gypsy, Maruti has tried
with the big-B-Bachchans to enhance the value proposition in its
Versa model. While the same company does not need a brand ambassador
for the recently introduced Swift nor did the company use a loud
promotional effort for their more premium Baleno.
In being a strong value proposition
a brand should also relate to its customer and his value system or
culture. Dandi namak is a valiant effort, as also was the Ganga
toilet soap, to en-cash the socio-cultural heritage of an Indian
consumer. The brand needs to have a staying power in terms of being
easy to remember. The symbol that goes along with the brand often
does this job, as in the case of Wheel detergent, (A Chakra is very
easy to remember for low literacy Indian population, and is also a
symbol of power, cleansing the mankind), or Cadbury's Dairy Milk
with two glasses of milk poured into a chocolate. For a better
recall a brand should be a short word or combination of words, with
the smallest number of syllables. Brands may also be derived from
the key characteristics, features or ingredients of the product,
Sofwash of Modicare, PUF – Cold Gold of Godrej and Meswak
toothpastes are examples respectively.
If a brand is successful in making
a connection with people and communicating its distinct advantage,
people will want to tell others about it and word-of-mouth
advertising will develop naturally—not to mention writers in the
press will want to write about the brand. Once that type of
differentiation is established in the consumer's mind, advertising
can help maintain and shape the brand.
What is needed in branding is to
communicate what the brand distinctively stands for, using as few
words or images as possible.
Branding is all about creating
singular distinction, strategic awareness, and differentiation in
the mind of the target market--not just awareness. When the brand
becomes successful, it will start building equity for the brand.
Brand – Loyalty!!?
While many may question the
strength of a brand name in evolving the brand loyalty of the
consumer, a monogamous relationship with your brand, brand managers
seem to stand by their brands. But do the customers stand by their
choice of the most recognized, respected or appreciated brands? Not
always. When questioned about usage propagation and promiscuity,
many consumers are found philandering, trying out other brands. This
suggests that consumers while virtually brand loyal do still keep
looking around for the best value for money delivered.
Since brand choice is supposed to
reflect one's self-image or personality, the marketers need to pay
adequate attention to the brand image; what it stands for. ‘Ruf
& Tuff' stand out more for denim jeans as against ‘Blue Lagoon',
(an old forgotten jeans brand). Consumers are observed to be
offensively defensive for their choice of brand, which again is
based only on the generated brand image rather than the actual
product attributes. It is the marketing acumen of the brand
marketers that leads to a staunch brand preference over a hairline
differentiation in the tangible and the intangible factors.
In an advanced stage of Customer
Relationship Management, and an application of the fan-club concept
to a brand, we come across what is known as a brand community.
Technically a brand community is a fabric of relationships in which
the customer is situated. Crucial relationships include those between the
customer and the firm, between the customer and the brand, between
the customer and the product in use and among fellow customers.
Marketers attribute the promise of long-term profitability and
market share, to the brand loyalty and the customer retention. Consumers are observed to be forging and
strengthening a variety of relationships. Many recent attempts at
customer loyalty enhancement have led to a dependence on
relationship marketing (Garbarino and Johnson 1999; Gruen, Summers
and Acito 2000). As a new imperative in marketing practice (Berry
1995; Deighton 1996; Gundlach, Achrol and Mentzer 1995) a focus on
customer relationship is presented as an avenue to competitive
Consumers and Marketers are now
found jointly building communities, and in exploring those
communities, loyalty can be understood in a new way. A community is
made up of its member entities and the relationships among them.
Communities tend to be identified on the basis of commonality or
identification among their members, whether a neighborhood, an
occupation, a leisure pursuit, or devotion to a brand. Through
communities, people share essential resources that may be cognitive,
emotional or material in nature. Communities can be identified,
whose primary bases for identification are either brands or
consumption activities, that is , whose meaningfulness is negotiated
through symbolism of the market place. A brand community as defined
by Muniz and O'Guinn (2001, p.412) as “a specialized,
non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of
social relationships among users of a brand” Their study indicates
that inter-customer relationships figure importantly in the loyalty
equation. They envision a brand community as a customer –customer
–brand triad. A new customer-centric model of brand community is
presented at figure 1.
Another important branding decision
area is the logic of ingredient branding. A decision of increasing
importance is how ingredient attributes that make up a product
should be labeled or branded, if at all. Research empirical as well
as experimental, has confirmed the effect of ingredient branding on
consumer's acceptance of a novel line extension (or one that has
been introduced before) as well as the ability of the brand to
leverage that ingredient to introduce future category extensions. The huge success of Godrej's PUF (Polyurethane
Foam) insulated refrigerators are an example to site as a successful
ingredient branding strategy. The strategy is useful for both type
of novel line extensions or brand expansions, one where the level of
existing product attribute changes or where a totally new attribute
or characteristic is added.
Ingredients of a strong
Some of the vital ingredients for a
strong brand are-
• Quality product or service
that delivers superior performance.
• Identify the brand's
singular distinction (if not present then create one), define the
message, position the brand.
• Tap into emotion.
• Build the image.
• Live the message
• Measure brand equity
against the competition and review.
The power of brands is thus
understood in a variety of ways and strategic alternatives. It may
now not be the ‘eyes that sailed a thousand ships', but ‘the name
that launches a thousand products'. Under a strong brand may
flourish thousands of product ideas through a thoroughbreds'
lifecycle, winning in multiple steeplechases of high competition
global marketplace. Long live the brands, May a brand never die.
* Dr Hemant C Trivedi is head retail academic area
** Vivek Khandelwal is pursuing Post Graduate
Programme in Retail Communications Management at MICA
- Mayank M Singh, Rallying for Control, A&M Magazine, 15 th
- Mode-A&M, Top Brands Survey, 2001
- McAlexander James et all, Building Brand Community, Journal of
Marketing, January 2002
- Bhattacharya, Rao and Glynn, 1995, Reicheld and Sasser 1990
- Kalpesh Kaushik Desai & Kevin Lane Keller, The Effects of
Ingredient Branding Strategies on Host
- Brand Extendibility, Journal of Marketing, January 2002