Branding -- Is it Still Relevant? Principles Multiple Chapters

Pages: 25 (8213 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Business - Advertising

Branding -- Is it Still Relevant?

Principles of Traditional Branding Strategies - Introduction

Branding is subject to numerous definitions, but for author Matthew Healey he begins with the definition of "brand" from the Old Norse or Germanic root; it literally means "burn" (Healey, 2008, p. 2). Obviously, branding beef cattle is different than branding Budweiser. Meantime, a brand in the marketing genre may be: a) the name of a product or service (Ivory Soap; BBC News); b) a trademark for a product such as Panasonic; or c) the belief a customer may have about a product or service, based perhaps on a slogan like "Please don't squeeze the Charmin!" (Healey, p. 3).

The brand is also a promise from the manufacturer that there will be satisfaction, Healey goes on; a brand is an "metaphor operating as an unwritten contract" between the company producing the service or product and the consumer. In other words, if you buy this product, which you have seen on television, on the Internet, in magazines and newspapers, you will be satisfied and the purpose for which you made the purchase will be realized.

There is a "continuous struggle between producers and customers" to define the exact promise of the branding, and the meaning of the branding, Healey explains. Yes people make their own decisions about what to buy, how to live, which they should be, but they do so "under circumstances shaped by brands' advertising, marketing, and publicity," according to Healey.

In times of economic affluence, brands pop up everywhere and when there is an economic downturn, brands "starve," the author explains. The early pioneers of branding go back to the 18th Century when breweries like Guinness and Bass were branding their beer products. In the U.S. Ivory soap (made by Procter and Gamble) launched the very first national ad campaign in 1882, Healey reports. What does branding actually do and what are its components?

Healey lists five components of branding: a) Branding is positioning one's product or service in the market; b) branding involves story telling; c) design is a big part of branding; d) the price of the product plays into the dynamics of its branding; and e) the relationship the brand has with the customer is vitally important. Positioning: Branding should be a two-way process, the author adds, rather than just the producer telling the consumer what is good and useful about the product. Storytelling: humans have been telling stories for thousands of years, and it is still true that a good story will be a compelling reason for consumers to pay close attention to the message.

Design: The design is the "liquid as well as the label, the nuts and bolts as well as the name, the self as well as the surface," Healey continues in his Introduction (note: there are no page numbers offered in this portion of his book). Price: Though the price is critical to the sale, and Healey says that if two cheeses in the store look the same and one is more expensive, in most instances customers will buy the "more expensive one." But the company cuts prices "short-term" at its own peril, Healey reminds, because the image of the brand at a certain price will suffer if it is allowed to be sold cheaply. Customer Relationship: the branding corporation wants consumers to feel special, and so at the heart of "every branding effort there has to be a kernel of truth," according to Healey. And within that truth there has to be a story told, to "make it look good" and to build it into a "valuable emotional bond between producer and customer" (Healey).

Beyond just making a sale and getting the customer to become loyal, branding can do the following, according to Healey: a) "reinforce a good reputation"; b) "encourage loyalty"; c) "assure quality"; d) help convey a "perception of greater worth" which then allows the product to be sold at a higher price resulting in more profit; and e) branding gives the buyer a "sense of affirmation" and an "entry into an imaginary community of shared values" (Healey). Your brand, the author continues, is what "your customers think it is"; and moreover a branded item "makes you feel better" because when you buy "Heinz beans" you get to step into the shoes of the person in that television commercial with "the ideal kitchen, the ideal family, the ideal lifestyle" (Healey).

Branding on the global level and the internal level

Author Sicco Van Gelder explains that internally brands have a three-component legacy that needs to be understood: a) the "birthright" (whoever founded the company that developed the brand usually had a "dominating influence" on that brand; Henry Ford is a classic example of a brand creator that carries his name and his influence); b) the "milestones" (events along the way to the brand becoming a household word are the milestones; Apple, for example, introduced the Apple Lisa in 1983, the first "home computer with a graphical user interface" and that was a defining milestone); and c) "role of the brand" (this relates to how the brand is "perceived" in terms of how the organization benefits from it as well (Sicco, 2005, pp. 25-26).

Literature Review

"The term 'brand' itself may be too broad in its meaning to be useful…the word 'brand' is perilously close to becoming a synonym for 'thing'" (Skinner, 2008, p. 921).

Destination Branding

According to Heather Skinner in the Journal of Marketing Management there is a great need among marketing professionals to define their terms, in particular when promoting a place for tourists to come. "Destination branding" (as academics refer to place marketing) is growing very quickly as one approach to promoting tourist destinations, Skinner writes. Also called "destination marketing," the process of destination branding has led to a confusion of terms, Skinner writes, because the geographic location is considered as the destination brand and "location brand" is "aligned to the corporate brand" (Skinner, 2008, p. 917). This points out how important it is for marketing people to manage the precise communications that the customers will be receiving about a place.

In discussing the importance of communication about a place, in the context of destination branding, the author uses the example of how the post-communist nations within the European Union have tried to upgrade the attractiveness of their image to bring in more travelers. But when those governments (and not professional marketing talent) lead initiatives to "change a negative place image" (when sometimes the problem with a place's image is "more imagined than real") they often have "little consideration of the varying levels of importance of those outside who hold that negative image" (Skinner, p. 919). This in turn goes back to the confusion within the marketing industry as to whether to embrace destination branding or place branding. When marketing people are trying to attract tourists to a city, they must understand that "branding a city is not just about slogans and slick commercials," Skinner explains (p. 921). By definition, a city "is a brand," Skinner continues.

At the conclusion of her article, Skinner insists that place branding is best used in the context of promoting a place's "promotional activities" (in other words, the interesting things that go on within that place, not the place itself) from the "inside-out approach" (p. 923).

Brand management for cities

Gregory Ashworth and Mihalis Kavaratzis take the issue of branding cities (and nations) farther than Skinner. The authors assert that it is perfectly appropriate for a country to develop a strong "nation brand" -- "countries have more stable and enduring brand images" -- but cities are more dependent on the "trends of the market" and they tend to fulfill "more self-expression needs compared to countries" (Ashworth, 2009, p. 525). So would it be smart to create what the authors call an "umbrella" nation brand, with the nation as the main brand and the cities as sub-brands beneath the spokes of the umbrella? They say that would not be a good strategy, that in fact it is better to maintain a "clear distinction between the nation and city brands." That distinction is seen in myriad nations around the world. New York is a destination and a brand in the U.S., as is Seville in Spain and Amsterdam in Holland. Few advertising campaigns promote Holland per se, but Amsterdam is a brand that is known worldwide for its liberal laws regarding entertainment and social interaction.

As to the similarities between product / corporate branding and city branding, Ashworth on page 524 insists there are many linkages: a) both "address multiple groups of stakeholders"; b) both are complex and intangible; c) both must be accountable to a sense of social responsibility; d) both have "multiple identities; and e) they both need "long-term development." An intelligent, well-defined and integrated brand marketing plan for cities should be created as a hexagon, Ashworth explains on page 525. The hexagon framework has these components: presence (a city's image in the world); place (the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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