BUSINESS

Brand Strategy Decisions – A Major Challenge

Brand StrategyBuilding a strong brand is the quest of any marketer who wants to create a meaningful difference within the marketplace.

This, however, is not an easy task as it requires strategic thinking, an understanding of the dynamics of a competitive market environment as well as recognizing the capabilities and limitations of the organization for which one works.

The following therefore must be taken into account when building and managing a strong brand:

1) Brand Positioning
2) Brand naming
3) Brand sponsorship
4) Brand development

Brand Positioning

Effective brand positioning is contingent upon identifying clearly the fixed position; the brand should occupy in the minds of targeted customers.

Companies use different levels or approaches to communicate a brand’s uniqueness, differentiation, and verifiable value.

First, some companies position their brands on the basis of product attributes such as special ingredients, unique style, creative designs, and environmentally friendly packaging. However, this is rather limiting as competitors can easily adopt a “me too” position in this regard. But even more importantly, consumers are not looking for attributes per se but whether or not these attributes will make a meaningful difference to them.

Second, linking the name of the brand with a desirable and unique benefit is another approach that is used successfully by other companies. For example, FedEx brand position is based on guaranteed on-time delivery, Lexus focused on quality, and Nike is connected to performance.

Third, and by far the most important approach, however, is the brand positioning based on psychology. This encompasses a number of different factors such as core beliefs, attitudes, values, and perception. It goes beyond the level of attributes and benefits of the brand.

It can best be described as “soulish” in its appeal as it is based at a deeper and more emotional level. This approach leads to a cultic “followership” and relationship with the brand. Apple, for example, does not rely on its product attributes but more on intangibles such as experience, excitement, solution, and passion.

Choosing A Brand Name

There are different schools of thought regarding the selection of a brand name but in general the process begins with a careful review of the product and its benefits, understanding the target market, and proposed marketing strategies.

Some basic guidelines include:

1) The name should have some connection to the benefits and qualities of the product. For example, Blueberry, Beautyrest, Cable News Network (CNN)
2) It should be easy to pronounce, remember, and recognize for example, Tide, Apple, e- Bay
3) It should be distinctive, for example Lexus
4) It should be extendable, that is, the name chosen should be able to extend into other areas, for example Amazon has gone into several different categories of products although it started out focusing on books.
5) The name should lend to easy translation into other languages
6) It should pass the trademark and registration test

Brand Sponsorship

There are four options which are open to the producer. Ultimately, however, the decision on which option is best suited for the company rest with the strategic marketing approach the company chooses to undertake. These options include:
1) Launching the product as a national or manufacturer’s brand
2) Purchasing of the product by resellers and marketing it under their own name as a private brand
3) Licensing the product to a third party who markets the product as a licensed brand
4) Co-branding, that is two companies joining together in a joint effort in promoting a brand

Certainly, the company in its strategic approach to brand sponsorship must consider not only the relationship of the brand to its customers but also the cost/benefit analysis.

Brand Development

In terms of the development of the brand, a company has four choices. These include:

1) Line extension
2) Brand extension
3) Multibrand offerings
4) Addition of new brands

Line Extension

This means the company can extend an existing brand name to new product forms or categories, for example Lasco Whole Milk, Lasco Readi Milk, Lasco Milky Soy, and others. Most new products consists of line extensions. Companies, however, must be mindful of over extending their product line as this could easily lead to customer confusion and frustration.

Brand Extension

Brand extension involves extending an existing brand name to new product categories. For example, Arm&Hammer has extended its brand name to include Fabric Care, Personal Care, Pet Care, and Deodorizers.

Brand extension offers instant new product recognition, faster new product acceptance, and lower marketing and advertising cost. However, the company must be aware of the risks involved in brand extension. These include among others:

• brand name not being an appropriate fit for the new product.
• brand image confusion due brand name cannibalism
• brand extension failure of new product could harm main brand name

Multibrand Offerings

Companies introduce multibrands to the market with the view of promoting new features and appealing to different motives of its customers. It is also used as a means of occupying more shelf space in retail and wholesale outlets. The drawbacks to this however, is the inefficient use of the company’s resources as it entails spreading resources over a wide array of brands and ultimately the end may not justify the means.

Addition Of New Brands

Some companies choose to grow brand categories accordingly:

• add new products as a means of defense against competitors
• leverage its brand name in order to enter into new product category
• replace brands that lack market vitality

However, as with multibranding, the company must be mindful of the fact that the adding of too many new brands may result in spreading resources too thin. In addition, it may also lead to consumer fatigue and resistance as there may be too many brands with few differences. In fact there are instances where brand contraction or culling may be within the best interest of the company.

Management

Notwithstanding the foregoing, ultimately it’s the company’s management that will be held accountable and responsible for the success or failure of a brand. The onus is therefore on management and the marketing team in particular to ensure that the brand is managed carefully through out the different stages of the brand strategy decision process.

Furthermore, it means that effective communication with both internal and external stakeholders is of paramount importance as well as constant auditing of the brand to ensure that brands not only meet customers expectation but also exceed it.

Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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One Comment

  1. Yvad Billings

    informative and interesting read

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