Summary and synthesis
What is a brand?
A brand is a distinguished name and/or symbol (such as logo, trademark, or package design) intended to identify the goods or services of either one seller or a group of sellers, and to differentiate those goods or services from those of competitors. From the customer’s point of view, a brand can be defined as the total accumulation of all his/her experiences, and is built at all points of contact with the customer (Kapferer, 2004). A successful brand is an identifiable product, service, person or place, augmented in such a way that the buyer or user perceives relevant, unique added values which match their needs most closely (Chernatony and mc Donald, 1998). A brand value is determined by the functional, emotional and self expressive benefits delivered by the brands which provide value to the customers. Brands evolve over time. The level pertains to express the identity of the producer (i.e. label). The second level is known as functional superiority (perceived by customer as differentiation). While the third level is referred to as emotional touch, fourth level pertains the power of self expression. At the top of the pyramid, the highest level (i.e. fifth level) is known as cult.
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What is brand identity?
Brand identity is a unique set of brand association implying a promise to customers and includes a core and extended identity. Core identity is the central, timeless essence of the brand that remains constant as the brand moves to new markets and new products. To be effective, a brand identity needs to resonate with customers, differentiate the brand from competitors, and represent what the organization can and will do over time (Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 2000). To ensure that the brand building is successful it is important to understand how to develop brand identity, it is important to know what the brand stands for and to effectively express that identity. Companies that present a cohesive, distinctive and relevant brand identity can create a preference in the marketplace, add value to their products and services, and may command a price premium (Schmitt and Simonson, 1997).
PCDL Model: a conceptual model for building brands
The PCDL model stands for
Positioning of the brand
Communicating the Brand Message
Delivering the Brand Performance
Leveraging the Brand Equity
Also, the article states case studies of three Indian brands i.e. Archies, Boroline and Dabur Vatika which were undertaken to describe the approach for brand building adopted by them. The PCDL model was reinforced in the brands to help understand the brand building characteristics.
Why is brand building essential?
As stated in the article Branding: a trend for today and tomorrow by Joseph Arthur Rooney, branding is not the answer to all the problems facing businesses today. There are substantial negatives to branding that must be considered. However, if branding is carried out correctly, the advantages outweigh the problems (Lorenzini and McCarthy, 1992). A good brand will give the customer value for the dollar and give employees the satisfaction and confidence in their products (O’Malley, 1991). Strong branding can also accelerate market awareness and acceptance (Berry et al, 1988) of new products entering the market.
The author in this research paper has a positive or an interpretivist approach. Interpretive approaches rely heavily on naturalistic methods i.e. interviewing, observation and analysis of existing texts. (Orlikowski and Baroudi 1991) say that “interpretive studies assume that people create and associate their own subjective and intersubjective meanings as they interact with the world around them. Interpretive researchers thus attempt to understand phenomena through accessing the meanings participants assign to them.”
What is the nature of reality?
The purpose is to identify the key findings and action elements in building brands in a competitive market, which provide customers with maximum satisfaction and value for money. Thus, using the PCDL model which is subjective in nature.
What is the relation of the researcher to that researched?
The research method is theoretical in nature hence the researcher does not directly have a link with the
What is the role of values?
The researcher does not have any personal interactions with the subject of research but factors like customer satisfaction, value for money, brand loyalty etc play a vital role.
What is the language of research?
The final outcome of the research paper is to help deliver promises to customers through all company departments, intermediaries, suppliers etc. Therefore it proves that the language used in the article is more personal and informal.
What is the process?
In the research paper the author has explained the essentials for maintaining a good brand image, for this reason he has used a conceptual model and further implemented it in the case studies.
The author in the article suggests a PCDL model in application to the case studies which helps a brand to strategically build its brand identity in the market.
Positioning the Brand
Positioning a brand means emphasising the distinctive characteristics that make it different from its competitors and appealing to the public. It results from an analytical process based on the four following questions:
A brand for what?
A brand for whom?
A brand for when?
A brand against whom?
Positioning is very competitive, when it comes to brands customers tend to compare so a product will only be considered only if it is clearly a part of the selection process. By strategically positioning it in the minds of the target audience, the company can build a strong identity or personality of the brand. Chernatony and McDonald, 1998 say a successful brand aims to develop a high-quality relationship, in which customers feel a sense of commitment and belonging, even to the point almost of passion. Positioning is a two step process.
First, indicate to what category the brand should be associated and compared. Second, indicate what the brand’s essential difference in comparison to the other products and brands of that category. Upshaw (1995) identified eight alternative positioning tools used by companies as: feature driven prompts, problem/solution driven positioning, target-driven positioning; competition-driven positioning, emotional/psychological positioning; benefit driven positioning; aspirational positioning and value positioning. Brands that are well positioned occupy particular niches in consumers’ minds.
Communicating brand message
A brand needs to carve a vision of how that brand should be perceived by its target audience. The brand positioning helps to in priortizing the focus of the brand followed by the communication strategies which help the company to put forth the communication objectives like the type of message, brand differentiation to be achieved and themes that appeal to the target customers. The challenges faced by companies in building brands are: to be noticed, to be remembered, to change perceptions, to reinforce attitudes, and to create deep customer relationships (Aker and Joachimsthaler, 2000). A differentiated, “ownable” brand image can build an emotional and rational bridge from customers to a company, a product, or a service (Knapp, 2000). The major channels of communications used widely to position the brands in the minds of consumers are advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, sponsorships, endorsements, public relations, the internet and integrated brand communications. It is necessary to develop and implement long-term integrated communication strategies demonstrating the brands value to the customers.
Delivering the brand performance
Companies need to track their brand performance against the effect of competition, especially in the face of aggressive competition. They should keep an eye on the progress as to how their brands are doing in the marketplace and what impact certain market interventions will have on the brand equity. Progress can be monitored in terms of the level of purchasing, consumption, brand recognition, brand recall, advertising awareness, etc. This approach will enable brand marketers to assess the effect of marketing campaign in influencing the target consumers, which in turn leads to measure the brand strength. In product driven companies, service is playing an important role in the brand experience as they view the brand in terms of this entire relationship with their customers. progressive company cultivates its brand philosophy across functional lines throughout the organisation, evaluates al contact points with customers, and streamlines organisational processes to meet customer needs and deliver a consistent brand experience. A manufacturer’s existing brands are potentially vulnerable to successful new brands from competitors. It is, therefore, in the manufacturer’s interest to maintain the relative functional excellence of its existing brands. This means continuously upgrading their performance. The best discipline to focus attention on this upgrading is to carry out regular blind product tests of the manufacturer’s brand against competitors (Jones, 2000) helps the firm to maintain the relative functional excellence of its brands. This approach enables the firm to protect its brands from the impact of the successful new brands of the competitors and gain brand loyalty.
Leveraging the brand equity
Leveraging the brand equity means linking the brand to some other entity that creates a new set of associations from the brand to the entity as well as affect existing brand associations. Companies employ different strategies in leveraging their brands namely through line-extensions, brand extensions, ingredient branding and co-branding (Keller, 2003b). In ingredient branding, key attributes of one brand are incorporated into another brand as ingredient is gaining increasing popularity in markets. The ingredient branding enhances the differentiation of the host brand from competition by characterizing the ingredient attribute in the host brand more specifically (Desai and Keller, 2002). This results in establishing brand alliances between number of firms as they link through their products/services or marketing activities. In brand extensions, the parent brand experience appears to have little impact on long-term repeat purchasing of an extension across a range of cases in which perceived similarity between the parent and extension categories varied considerable considerably (Swaminathan et al, 2001). If the brand extension fails, it can harm the brand equity of the parent brand by producing negative reciprocal effects. Further, they stated that parent brand experience has an impact on extension trial but not on repeat purchase.
Further, case studies of three Indian brands were undertaken to define the brand building strategies adopted by them. The PCDL model applied to the case studies is explained briefly.
Positioning the brand
Positioning brand associations
Feelings and emotions
Greeting cards and soft toys. Gift items for youth
Value for money
Antiseptic skin cream
Premium quality, pure coconut oil.
Coconut hair oil
White and green bottle
Communicating the brand message
Radio, TV, FM channels, cable and satellite channels, Hollywood movies, Bollywood movies.
Newspapers, magazines, radio, outdoor advertising, festivals, sponsorship of cricket and football matches.
Sponsored events and shows, music, awards, TV shows.
“The most special way to say we care”
Focussed on sentiments, feelings and emotions
“combining modern chemistry and the science of ancient Indian Ayurveda”
Trust of generations of consumers.
“Values of youthfulness and natural beauty”
Featuring modern, young, multi-faceted, confident, and achievement driven women celebrities.
Tie up with NGOs (Help Age India, Child Relief and You, etc.)
“Save trees” campaign, financial assistance to patients requiring heart surgery.
“Vatika Super Model India 2001” and “Vatika Zee Sangeet Awards” to recognize talent in society
Delivering brand performance
Advancing social expressions, and products at different price points.
“Gaurd and cure against dry skin problems”
“Benefits of natural products in a single pack”
“Archies gallery” stores, organised franchising
Availability at retailer level
Easy accessibility at retailer level
Leveraging the brand equity
Key chains, wide range of stationery, gift items etc.
Hair care products, detangling shampoo and pain balm.
Cream conditioning shampoo, anti-dandruff shampoo, fairness face pack.
The research paper talks about the various steps involved in building a good brand identity and maintaining the brand name over a long period of time. The author in this article has considered all important factors which would deliver a good branding experience to its customers. But, it should also be taken into consideration that using the same methods over a long span of time will cause the brand to become stagnant. Thus, to make sure the brand does not fall into stagnation it is important to research on the other areas involved in building a strong brand. Brand innovation is one of the fields that need to be explored in detail by researchers. Brand Innovation practices are a core competence for today’s organizations and a key driver for future success. Michael Schrage: “Tomorrow’s innovators will invest more in playing with prototypes, modelling marketplaces, and simulating scenarios because that will become the best way to create new value and profitably deliver it to customers. Innovative models inspire innovative behaviour.”
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“Unless we change the way we think and what we value, we will just do the old things more effectively in the future? Is this enough? Will the future ever really be the same?” These are some of the questions that need to be answered. Brand Innovation revolves around our ability to interrupt and test new ideas in an ongoing simulated strategic conversation. The lesson for organizations innovating their Brands is to accelerate their prospecting and discovery process by connecting their leading edge creative thinkers internally and externally and then sensing and simulating for new opportunities.
Consistency of integrated marketing communications and message along the brand identity dimensions targeted towards customers is critical to the success of brand-building efforts by delivering a consistent, self-reinforcing brand image. Companies need to make sure that the brand remains strong even during difficult times and offer value that is consistent with the brand promise. The above article thus serves as a guideline to managers and executives in building brand identity of their brands in their target markets. The four stages suggested in the model namely, positioning of the brand, communicating the brand message, delivering the brand performance and leveraging the brand equity can enable companies to build strong brands. Along with the above mentioned methods the researcher should throw some light on brand innovation which helps the brand to re-innovate itself to compete with the other brand and maintain its brand image in the long run.
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