Consumers are the main source of revenues and profits of many businesses. Companies always try to ensure that their consumers’ welfare are noted and considered in their decision making. Companies strategize their marketing campaign based on what their target market needs. They try to create a name and reputation for themselves that would be “loved” by all their consumers and keep them coming back. Companies do this by doing common forms of marketing strategy which well-planned. Some of these marketing strategies are those that people see everyday, all around, in different forms.These can be advertisements in billboards, radio, television, newspapers, flyers, etc. But as technology continues to present new means of communication, these forms have now evolved and now include media such as mobile phones and the internet. Branding Defined What most companies want is for their names or brands to be popular and well-known. Most entrepreneurs and company executives consider branding top priority in their “to-do” list. Some people think that branding is just merely a name or a logo that represents the company or the product.In its truest essence, branding is, in fact, more than that. Dunn defines branding as ‘a demanding, complex process that requires disciplined attention over an extended period of time. ’ For company heads who are serious in making a lasting impression and a great image for their company or product, branding is a major part of their everyday responsibilities. Dunn explains more: Branding is owning a single idea, concept or feeling in the mind or heart of the customer. Sometimes it’s just a word. A phrase. A thought. An emotion. Whatever it is, you want to own it in the mind of the customer.
A brand helps differentiate you from the competition. It makes your product, service or experience different from all others. It lets you stand out from the crowd. Without differentiation, you might end up competing only on price. And with price, there seems to be no bottom to the bottom. Markets today are extremely competitive and getting ahead of competitors and winning the hearts of customers are really important for any company. Customers now are also a lot wiser and smarter than before. They know what they want and they make sure that what they patronize is up to their set standards.
Branding, indeed, is a lifelong effort as continuous improvement is necessary in order to keep up with the current demands of customers. What people want today may not be the same tomorrow. Advantages and Disadvantages of Branding Every company’s goals are to be ahead in the industry it belongs, be known to its target market and be profitable. An important factor in achieving these goals is to create a brand that will make a lasting impression to the company’s target market and make customers love it. Effective branding requires a lot of time, effort and creative minds.
Geoffrey Randall enumerated the following that brands can benefit the customers: • Identity: the brand must identify itself clearly and unambiguously, so name, legal protection and design elements are important. • Shorthand summary: the identity should act as a summary of all the information the consumer holds about the brand. […] • Security: buying a familiar brand should be reassuring. The brand should guarantee to provide the benefits expected. • Differentiation: the brand must clearly differentiate itself from its competitors, and show buyers how it is unique. • Added value: the brand must offer more than the generic product.
These are just the five major things, but there are even more that brands can do to customers. Customers patronize brands for several reasons such as trust, instinct, perceived quality, knowledge and image. Customers like to try new brands but once they already found one that is a perfect fit for their taste, it is highly likely that they will stick to that brand for a certain period of time. It may not be forever, though, that they will just go with one brand, unless the brand keeps on reinventing itself and always stays up to date with the current market demands.
Thus, it is important for marketing people or brand managers to always be updated with the latest trend and be knowledgeable on what customers want. Nowadays, any industry, any market is so dynamic that changes happen every now and then. Being always in the loop on all market updates is imperative for all company owners and executives. Branding, indeed, has a lot of good benefits to the customers. However, with all the upside comes the downside of branding such as cost, time and difficulty in reinventing the brand.
For a company to establish a brand, a lot of money is required. From research and development, application, testing, up to finally marketing the brand, a huge investment is definitely needed to ensure everything works out smoothly. There are also times when brands tend to already have a fixed image which makes it difficult for companies to deviate a little (i. e. adding another product of different kind) and still maintain customers’ trust in the brand. Reinvention is one factor to keep the popularity of the brand and make consumers love it as time goes by.
However, when people already got so used to what the brand has to offer, it may be difficult to extend the brand which might create a new image for it. Time is yet another huge investment required in coming up with a brand and marketing it. Coming up with a good brand and make people love it does not happen overnight. These things, though, can all be worth it anyway when there is a solid plan on the table and an effective team working on it. Types of Branding There are different types of branding strategies that are adopted by different companies depending on how they want to be known by the market.
Among these branding types are the following: • Unique Branding – ‘A unique branding strategy allows a company to dominate a product area by building a successful brand that stands for just one thing. Such a brand can often become synonymous with the product. ’ A good example of this branding strategy is Procter & Gamble. This giant company manufactures a wide range of products. Each of those products has its own brand name such as Ariel, Pantene, Pringles, Pampers, Head and Shoulders, and a lot more. These brand names have been popular and have already been associated to its single type of product.
But behind all of those household names, there is just a single company enjoying all the success. With this branding strategy, companies can come up with same product types and market them with different brand names. However, ‘it takes a significant investment in time, money and effort to establish a new brand. ’ • Corporate Branding – This branding strategy is somehow the opposite of unique branding. The company has different product offerings but all using the same brand. An example of a company using corporate branding strategy is Apple.
When customers are already familiar with the brand, it is easy for them to patronize new product releases of the company. Once the company already has the customers’ trust, it can come up with new products and not have difficulty marketing it. Releasing a new product using corporate branding takes significantly lesser time and money than unique branding. However, companies using this branding strategy should also be careful to maintain the quality of their product as a failure of one may affect the entire brand. Also, range of products may be limited so as to avoid customers doubting the company’s dedication to its original product line.
• Range Branding – This is a combination of the two abovementioned branding strategies. A single company creates two or more brands depending on the market needs and customers’ existing perception to its original brand. A good example of a company that utilized range branding is Toyota. The company Toyota came up with Lexus, another brand of cars but meant to be marketed to the upper societal class. Toyota decided to do this because people already have the perception of Toyota being an affordable brand and most of its clients belong to the middle class.
Using the same brand to reach the upper class may be difficult for them as their original brand was already stereotyped. Branding Methods Development of brands can be done in different ways. Branding starts in identifying a striking brand name which may represent the characteristics of the product; or it may be a name that is easy to remember. It takes a substantial amount of time before companies can come up with a brand name that will be released in the market. On the more creative side, companies also do come up with logos associated with their brand name.
Logos help companies attract more customers who will also tend to remember the brand better because of the visual representation. Brand names and logos are important aspects of branding because those are the things that really represent the product. However, there is more to branding than just those representations. Branding should also happen within the company. The work environment and culture of the company should also coincide with what it is trying to promote. Executives and all employees of the company also represent the brand. They should embody the company’s and the brand’s beliefs, mission and vision.
In short, employees should be able to “live the brand. ” For example, in a fast food chain promoting quick, appetizing food on the go, the staff should act as quick as possible but still treat customers very well; packaging should be sturdy enough and really meant for people who like eating while moving; machines and equipments should be efficient to meet daily demands. The overall process in making the product and delivering the service should indeed “live the brand. ” Advertising is also one other aspect which should not be taken for granted in branding.
Coming up with the brand name and logo is one thing, but introducing it to the market is another. Creating an identity and making a name in today’s very dynamic market is not a walk in the park. A lot of time and great deal of effort is required for the company to reach out to customers and be known. Establishing the brand is the hard part but can be done if all the people behind the brand work together. The abovementioned brand development greatly applies to brick-and-mortar companies. Today’s generation needs more than just the traditional branding methods.
Customers are now looking for more interactivity and convenience as today’s technology continuous to get better and better. Companies should now also try the world of e-commerce or building brands in the internet. Most people now have access to the internet and are aware of the different things they can do with it, which include researching, communicating, and online shopping. Companies trying to establish a new brand, want to extend their existing brand or want to reach more market will benefit with the interactive world of the internet. However, branding in the virtual world is a lot different.
The only representation the company will have over the internet is its webpage. The homepage should have a very attractive and interesting layout that will make visitors stay. Backend should also be stable and reliable with fast servers and wide bandwidth. Existing brands who have already made its name offline should also keep their image online because that is what people will actually look for. Also, online presence also requires human intervention in terms of customer support which should be available 24 by 7, if possible. The website should also have an easy-to-remember domain name.
‘Even the best web site will be overlooked if users cannot remember where to find it. ’ In online branding, customer experience is very important because this is where customer loyalty starts. Capturing customers’ attention right from the start and providing excellent customer experience through the company’s virtual presence translates to an effective online branding. ‘For an online business, the look and feel of its website and the quality of the interface is the most important way to communicate its brand. ’ Schools of Internal Branding
The importance of employees embodying and living the brand has already been mentioned. This is, in fact, termed as internal branding. Within the company, all the employees should ‘fully understand and appreciate their brand [for them] to provide the desired brand experience to customers. ’ There are four schools of internal branding defined in book by Van Gelder. These schools are as follows: • Mission school – asserts that organizations must have a corporate belief, extolled by visionary management, that functions as an internal bonding mechanism and strategic directive.
• Strategy school – brand-based strategic management, in which the brand is the leading organizing principle of a corporation and drives all corporate activities. • Communications school – sees branding as an internal and external communications strategy which is aimed at educating staff and customers alike about the brand. • Organization school – aims to establish internal conditions that allow employees to deliver the correct brand experience to consumers during so-called moments of truth.
These schools aim to deliver the best customer experience by making the company’s employees understand the brand and the image the company wants to create, and equipping them with the right tools and knowledge to accomplish their jobs. Whether branding is done offline or online, these things are important as there are always people working behind the brand. Conclusion Creating a name that will be inculcated in the minds and hearts of consumers is definitely not an overnight job.
It takes a lot of time, effort and money to plan, strategize and decide on the right branding strategy that will be the best match for the products and services the company is selling. Technology, indeed, has opened more opportunities for companies to build and create a name. Yet, the requirements to be successful in making a name on the virtual world are more comprehensive. Marketing and building a brand through the internet is totally different from the common media that people have been used to. Nevertheless, the benefits of this, if done correctly, are better and more exciting than the usual means offer.
Bibliography Dunn, D, Branding: The 6 Easy Steps, Cameron Street Press, Oakland, 2004. Mauro, C, Visual/Interactive Brand Development, TaskZ, 2000, retrieved 4 May 2007, < http://www. taskz. com/visual_interactive_indepth. php> Randall, G, Branding: A Practical Guide to Planning Your Strategy, 2nd ed, Kogan Page Limited, Dover, 2000. Seidenberg, J, Three Types of Branding, Deltaflow, 2006, retrieved 4 May 2007, <http://www. deltaflow. com/? p=235> Van Gelder, S, Global Brand Strategy: Unlocking Brand Potential Across Countries, Cultures & Markets, Kogan Page Limited, 2003
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