When people say brand, the brands that come to mind straight away would be Coca-Cola, Nike or even Versace. The dictionary defines a brand as ‘a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic’. However, in marketing terms it is defined as ‘a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers of a product or service’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007). A brand can be defined in many ways, and there are several characteristics that make up a strong brand. Furthermore, strong brands have strong brand loyalty and the importance a strong brand is shown when brands expand their products. Moreover, brand strategy is important for a strong brand to exist, and consumers can convey an image of themselves when they buy. All these factors show how a strong brand is important in the eyes of the consumer. Getting back to ‘what is a brand? There are different views of the definition of a brand than Kotler’s. For example, another definition of a brand is that it is ‘a mixture of tangible and intangible attributes, symbolised in a trademark, which, if properly managed, creates influence and generates value’ (Clifton and Maughan, 2000). This definition describes brands in a broader perspective and it further considers manageable qualities of a brand, which Kotler’s definition does not. Since manageable qualities of a brand are in all strong organisations, people must consider this. A brand is much more than just a logo, such as McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s ‘swoosh’ symbol, it also includes what the brand represents. In these cases, McDonald’s represent quality food made quickly, and Nike represents high quality shoes. Furthermore, there are three characteristics shared by the strongest brands, ‘clarity, consistency and leadership’ (Melewar, Sambrook, 2004, p167). Clarity is a ‘clear and distinct vision of their brand’s identity’ (Melewar, Sambrook, 2004, p168). For example, Ferrari represents a clear identity, which means that their cars represent what the brand is about, which is high performance sport cars. Strong brands also are consistent in what they produce, for example Porsche produces expensive sport cars consistently, but until recently they have produced a four-wheel drive, which has been ‘inconsistent with Porsche’s traditional sporty image’ (Melewar, Sambrook, 2004, p169). Leadership is what also makes up a strong brand, it is a ‘brand’s ability to lead and exceed expectations, that is to ake people into new territories and new areas of product, service, technology and even social philosophy at the right time’ (Melewar, Sambrook, 2004, p169). All these characteristics is what makes up a brand, and distinguishes the strong brands from the weaker ones. Strong brands are important because they can influence consumers to buy their product even though they might pay more for the good. Brands are much more than names and symbols, they can represent the consumers’ perceptions and feelings about the product at hand and how it performs. Therefore, the importance of a strong brand is its ‘power to capture consumer preference and loyalty’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007). Brand equity is defined as ‘the value of a brand, based on the extent to which it has high brand loyalty’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007). Therefore, a strong brand has high brand equity. The importance of this is that consumers would be more willing to pay for that brand, even if it means paying a higher price. For example, in case study conducted it found that ‘72% of consumers would pay a 20% premium for their brand of choice relative to the closest competing brand’(Bello, Holbrook, 1995, p. 125). Having good brand equity makes a strong brand, this is important in many ways as the brand will ‘enjoy a high level of consumer awareness and loyalty’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007). Furthermore, as the brand carries high creditability, the company can more easily launch brand extensions. A strong brand also has protection against the competitive prices surrounding its product. The most important factor in brand equity is customer equity, which is ‘the value of the customer relationships that the brand creates’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007), what this means is that the real asset for a strong brand is the loyalty of its customers. Brand strategy plays an important role in making a brand strong. For example, ‘brand strategy decisions involve brand positioning, brand name selection, brand sponsorship and brand development’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007). With strong brands, their brand is positioned on ‘strong beliefs and values’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007). These strong brands arouse different emotions, for example, the brand Nike might make the consumer think that wearing Nike will give them a ‘cool look’. Another example of this is that using Colgate toothpaste will give consumers ‘healthy, beautiful smiles for life’ (Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, Armstrong, 2007). The importance of a brand is also important in a strong brand as it influences the types of brands that consumers will buy. In a study conducted by Swedish students, they found that consumer lifecycle stages affect how they view different brands. For example, when a person is single they seek to ‘define their self-identity’ (Saaksjarvi, Kedzior, 2006, p2). Therefore, the importance of a strong brand is that consumers can find the right brand for them and feel empowerment of what that represents. For example, ‘a woman can choose to be a sporty Esprit girl or a classy Armani woman’ (Saaksjarvi, Kedzior, 2006, p2). Strong brands can ‘communicate the status and attractiveness of the owner’ (Saaksjarvi, Kedzior, 2006, p2). What this shows is that, when wearing certain brands it can show a person’s personality, which is what brands want to represent. In conclusion, brands cannot be described in one sentence, but rather they are a collection of many factors. Factors such as consistency, clarity and management make up a brand, amongst other intangibles. Strong brands have loyal customers, which are essential to the organisation and is what helps make the brand what it is. Finally, brand strategy in strong brands is essential for them to exist and it is important for strong brands to exist so that consumers can convey their personalities through what they buy. Brands are important for customers as they convey meaning to what product they buy and the reasons behind that purchase. Reference Clifton R, Maughan E (2000) The Future of Brands. London: Macmillan Business. David D, Holbrook M (1995), Journal of Business Research, p. 125 Kotler P, Brown L, Adam S, Burton S, Armstrong G (2007) Marketing. Australia: Person Learning Hill Melewar, T. C. , Sambrook, Lydia (2004), European Business Journal, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p167-177 Saaksjarvi, Maria, Kedzior, Ryszard (2006), Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p334-335
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