Branding is a major pillar in any corporate strategic marketing. A brand represents unique name, term, signs, symbols or a combination of all, that stakeholders in a particular business (producers and consumers) identify with, in a particular industry where competition in sales is imperative. In general, a brand distinguishes a product from others competing in the same market. Brand Management involves the creation and sustenance of a particular brand in the market.
Branding reduces the costs associated with search of a particular product or service to the consumers. Thus, branding attaches specific product responsibility to a specific producer. If consumers’ expectations are consistently met over time, in a given brand, with regards to product performance, availability and pricing, brand trust and loyalty is achieved.
One of the major elements of brand management is corporate social responsibility (CSR). This is where a company communicates its core values to the stakeholders, who may include general public. This also helps in establishing a brand territory. Over and above conducting business as usual, CSR is guided by obligations of moral values to the society within the legal framework.
A successful CSR must take into consideration the consumer knowledge of a given brand. In other instances, a company may appoint an ambassador to crusade the values associated with consumption of a brand. Branding should be taken as a long term investment for the company which will have a great effect on future consumers and thus guarantee future profits.
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The other key component of brand management is brand differentiation. This basically involves making consumers to recognize and perceive the difference of a particular Brand in regards to other close competitors. This is because brands in the same category and/or sector may have similar attributes and thus confuse the consumers.
Product differentiation is a major goal of branding. In brand management, the complexity of branding which essentially involves capturing the attractiveness, true meaning and a personalized identity of the product has led to some brand managers using such terms as “super brand” and “power brands” to clearly draw the line between their products and those of competitors.
This is aimed at making the consumer perceive that other similar products are inferior. Brand differentiation plays a vital role in overcoming consumers association with traditional brands and global brands such as the “Apple” and “Facebook” for new products so that a market share can be developed.
In branding, too many similar products exist to the extent that the consumer may get confused while making decision on which product to opt for. A successful brand manager should ensure that his or her brand achieves “consumer seduction”. This is where a consumer goes beyond mental recognizing of a brand; to finding something that attracts him emotionally to buy a particular brand.
Brand management is an incomplete concept without the aspect of Brand Equity. This is the net effect of product differentiation on consumer responses to brand marketing. It is achieved when consumers attach personal attributes to a particular brand.
In addition, Brand Management also entails semiotics whereby a particular brand is recognized by a symbol. In a competitive environment, consumers will incur less cost in locating the logo. Besides brand positioning, semiotics also helps brand managers to effectively communicate their product and remain relevant in a volatile market which is saturated by many brands.
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