Branding

1.Brand Characteristics

There are many elements/characteristics associated with a brand, which need to be understood to facilitate brand creation and brand management.  These include brand identity, image, positioning, personality, culture and architecture, as well as brand components such as the text, visual images, and sounds.

1.1 Brand Identity

The brand identity is the way in which a brand/product is portrayed by the firm, with the aim of differentiating the brand from competitors while concurrently creating familiarity between the target market and the brand. This is achieved using a range of tools, which will include the brand image, positioning, personality, culture and architecture. The brand image uses these tools in a combined manner to create or embody a unique set of representative associations which helps to establish a relationship between the customer and the brand/product. The brand identity should create immediate recognition not only for the underlying product/service, but the values, positioning, and general benefits associated with that product or service as well as for example, Apple’s logo of a part bitten apple logo is immediately associated with the high-tech lifestyle products of the firm, likewise, Mercedes is associated with high quality vehicles, and the Nike swoosh logo is associated with sports apparel.

The brand identity is a convergence of the various brand elements, such as the brand image, positioning, personality, culture, and architecture. The brand identity will be heavily influenced by the brand image.

1.2 Brand Image

Brand image is intangible element; it is the ideas and associations that are linked to that brand in the minds of the potential purchasers. The image is the dimension indicating what the customer can, or will, expect from that brand, but unlike the identity, this is based purely on perceptions of the potential customers, and is not under the control of the firm, being influenced by third party messages and personal experiences or ideas as well as the messages which originate with the firm.  Many brand images may reflect the desired brand identity; for example, the Rolls-Royce brand of cars have an image of luxury status, whereas Skoda cars have an image associated with low cost and value. However, perceptions of consumer may not always be those desired by the firm; for example, Mont Blanc pens had a prestigious image, but when a marketing campaign publicised the ability of consumers to purchase a Mont Blanc pen for under £200, the image was tarnished; the aspect of exclusivity was diminished as the marketing message emphasising lower cost pens led to consumer perceiving the firm had shifted its positioning to appeal to a less affluent market. Mont Blanc made no changes to their product range but suffered as a result of the brand image changing.

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1.3 Brand Positioning

The positioning of a brand refers to the way the brand is placed by the firm within the broader marketplace, particularly against competing or substitute products. Effective brand positioning will involve a firm identifying and then managing the characteristics of the brand to create a unique place within the competitive environment which will reflect the product or brands differentiating features while concurrently being aligned with the interests, needs, or desires of the target market. Good positioning should place the brand is a position that is sustainable and is aligned with the organisational goals. Good examples of positioning include;

  • Volvo; positioned as a safe car brand with the positioning based on a category benefit (automotive safety).
  • Body Shop, with a reputation for reusing containers and following ethical practices positions the firm on how the company does business
  • Avis; the tag line in the US is “We’re #2, we try harder” which positions the brand against the competition
  • RyanAir the low-cost airline known for low pricess and penny pinching with a reputation being the airline ‘people love to hate’ is positions the product from the perspective of consumer perceptions and brand benefits

Not all aspects of positioning are unique, for example both Lidl and Aldi in the UK position themselves as low cost value supermarkets. These supermarkets also how how perceptions of consumers regarding positioning may impact on brand images. Prior to the recession Aldi and Lidl were generally perceived as catering for the lower end of the mass market; a target market with low levels of disposable income attracted by cheap products. Following the recession, the value aspect of the brand become kore attractive to the middle and upper mass markets, which facilitated the brands abilities to reposition. Lidl and Aldi started to market to more affluent consumers, which was reflected in its marketing and product mix, selling and advertising products such as champagne and lobster; the brands pursued the value position rather than the former ‘cheap’ position. The positioning needs to be supported by the brand personality.

Imagine you are developing a new rand for a luxury car company that targets male drivers, how would you position the brand, what characteristics would you use to support that positioning?

How would this change if you were targeting female drivers?

How would this change if the car were a budget car and not a luxury car?

Clue; the brand position should appeal to the target markets wants, needs or desires, and should create a unique position.

1.4 Brand Personality

Brand personality is a of anthropomorphisation. Anthropomorphisation is the attributing of human characteristics to a nonhuman artefact, such as an object, an animal or a plant, in this case a brand. The personality refers to the way in which a brand communicates and is perceived as behaving which will result in the audience associating specific characteristics with the brand. The brand personality may impact on the brand image, and be managed in line with the brand identity, but differs from the former constructs as it focuses in the emotional associations of the brand rather than the tangible benefits which are reflected in the brand image. Brands may be created or interpreted using many different models; a useful framework was developed by Aaker (1997) after examining perceptions of 37 well-known brands. Aaker’s (1997) framework identified five dimensions with their associated values and traits, these are shown in table 1 below.

Table 1; Five dimensions of brand personality

Dimension

Traits

Sincerity

Domestic, genuine honest, cheerful

Excitement

Daring, imaginative, spirited, up to date

Competence

Dependable, reliable, consistent, efficient, responsible

Sophistication

Glamorous, pretentious, romantic, charming

Ruggedness

Tough, strong, outdoorsy, rugged

Using this framework, De Beers would be classified as sophisticated, whereas North Face would be rugged, and Volvo competent. However, other approaches may be used, for example, Dove may be seen as a feminist company with its ‘campaign for real beauty’, while Harley Davidson reflects values including non-conformity and independence which may lead to the brand being seen as a rebel. Brand personality can be useful as a source of differentiation between brands selling otherwise homogenous goods.

1.5 Brand Culture

Brand culture refers to the normal and values associated with a brand that are reflected in the visual images and symbols as well as the activities and general behaviour of the company and the employees and forms part of the brand identity. The culture provides a source of identification for consumers who will usually be attracted to brands which have a similar culture to their own. Where brands are likely to struggle if they have core values which their target market do not identify with. The is believed that brand culture can be highly influential in the consumers purchase decision. An example was the success of Anita Roddick’s ‘The Body Shop’, where the culture of the firm was developed to support and embody ethical and environmental practices before they entered the mainstream. The practices were embodied in the firms’ messages as well as the practices with the company actively encouraging relying as well as supporting non-profit environmental organisations. The culture of the petroleum Royal Dutch Shell was assumed to have profit driven culture when the company clashed with Greenpeace over the disposal of the Brent Spa Oil Rig. Greenpeace argued Shell’s plans to sink the oil rig at sea, Shell suffered a decline in sales as well as facing protests.

However, the influence of culture is complex; the clothing store Primark is for its’ low prices, with a culture of providing value. When Primark was subject of a documentary revealing the firm gained its low costs using firms which exploited child labour there was a public outcry; child labour is not acceptable in the western culture. However, while there were pubic objections, the culture of low costs was more important as the firm did not suffer a decline in sales. Therefore, culture is important, but it has a high level of interferences with other brand elements, and while it may provide a point of differentiation other factors will also be influential.

1.6 Brand Architecture

Brand architecture may be perceived as the brand ecosystem, the way in which the brand and its own brand categories relate to each other as well as other brands within a firm’s portfolio. There are various models which try to explain how brands may be developed within a broader portfolio. Some architectures are made up of many apparently independent brands, which all come under the umbrella of a single corporate identity, such as the portfolios held by Unilever. Where the corporate identity has also been developed as a brand there may be a ‘Branded House’, this is where there are sub-brands, but the different brands are recognised primarily though the main brand, examples of this include FedEx and PepsiCo. The main brand may also help to sell products, even if the sub-brand is well known, as seen with many automotive companies. Organisations may also choose to have only a single brand image and identity which is proliferated across different products as seen with Apple.

When a firm wishes to increase sales, they may undertake a brand extension strategy; where the brand name is leveraged, usually to support the introduction of a new product category. Examples include the sale of perfumes and watches by luxury fashion houses and the sale of boots by Caterpillar. The new product gains from the core brand values and association, with the potential for the brand expansion to facilitate a product expansion strategy, defined by Ansoff (1965) as selling more products to the same market. The extensions for luxury goods may also open up new markets, where aspirational association sell the extension products to consumers who could not otherwise afford, or need, the core product, as seen with Chanel Perfume and Caterpillar boots.

In each case firms will assess the way in which the product and the brand images may interact with each other, supporting, enhancing, or detracting from sales. Tesco have a diverse brand architecture which includes budget value ranges and premium ranges under the name ‘finest’. This architecture allowed the firm to capitalise on its position as a retailer while meeting the needs of different consumers with brands targeting different consumer segments/needs.  In 2016 Tesco launched a new range of products using fictional farm names, such as “Rosedene Farms” for its apples and “Boswell Farms” for its beef, the firm was seeking to create new brands which the consumers would not associate with Tesco; diversifying their own brand architecture by adding a new dimension. These were designed to be freestanding brands. Tesco probably believed that the different associated of a separate brand would help them to maximise sales of their own products. This was an addition to the firms brand architecture extending it. Tesco is not unique, other firms such as Aldi, have also pursued this strategy. Another example of a freestanding brand is Lamborghini which is owned by Volkswagen. Lamborghini is a very exclusive brand selling less than 6,000 cars a year to a very elite clientele. The association with Volkswagen has the potential of undermining the exclusive reputation of the firm, so the is a lack of transparency in the everyday marketing.

1.6Brand Components

The brand itself is represented by a number of attributes, which markets will select to reflect and support the brand identity, image, positioning, personality and culture, these include the text, other visual images and sounds.

1.6.1Text

Text refers to the content of the written word as well as the design of the fonts. The content of the message should be attractive to the target market, guided by the brand message, providing information on the product, what it is, with a focus on why the consumer experience; the benefits the consumer will gain from buying/using the brand. The text should be presented in a manner the consumer can read; this include selection of language, phrasing, as well as the font. Many of these issues will also be related to the marketing strategy, however tag lines have a direct association with the brand.

The font is also important, with different fonts potentially influencing the way the brand is perceived. Script fonts may be associated with feminine products or sophistication, block fonts may be seen as more masculine or functional. Fonts may provide a source of differentiation and aid with brand recognition. For example, the Coca-Cola script is easily recognisable; even if the brand is seen in a different language the brand may be recognised. Likewise, the golden arches of the McDonalds ‘M’ logo are also a part of the McDonalds identity. Both of these examples also show the importance of colour combined with the font; Coca-Cola is known for the white text on a red background, whereas the McDonalds ‘M’ is in a golden yellow. Other examples include Google, with the multicoloured letters, and Facebook with the white text on a blue background. In each case the font and colour have been developed to stimulate or support the brand image and values, and aid with the creation of an identity.  Colours help to stimulate memories and link with stereotypes which brand creators can utilise to make message more effective; a brand with pink text is more likely to appeal to women, whereas darker colours such as blue, green and brown, are more likely to be used to appeal to a male target market, and bright colours may be used to appeal to children. Colours will also impact on other visual images.

1.6.2Visual Images

Within marketing there will be the use of many images, in the context of branding the main visual images will be the logo. The logo may be purely text based, but can also be a picture, such as the Twitter bird, or the Nike swoosh. More often, the logo is a combination both text and image, such as the Harley Davidson logo, where the name is placed into a shield, or Starbucks with the name and the image of the mermaid. The images may be directly related to the brand or is values with the design develop to stimulate specific associations. Conversely, larger organisation may develop a brand logo that differentiates the brand and will then create association for the benefits of the brand. The association may be created by the content of the image as well as the colour; red is frequently perceived as exciting or reflecting danger or lust depending upon the context, conversely blue is associated with safety and conservativism. It is unsurprising that many financial organisational have logos with blue content or text.

Think about starting up a new company selling products that are friendly to the environment, what colours would you use for the text and why?  Would the colour be different if the company was selling children’s toys, if so why?

Hint; while there is no single right or wrong answer, you may wish to choose colours that draw on existing associations or stereotypes

1.6.3Sounds

Branding may also use sounds. The sounds may have direct relevance and reflect brand value or identity by drawing on existing stereotypes or associations, alternatively, the branding strategy may create the association. For example, Coca-Cola adverts often use the sound of a bottle opening with the probable aim of creating a Pavlovian response of thirst, creating the association between Coca-Cola and the ability to refresh and satisfy a thirst. Conversely, the sound the Microsoft computer operating system; Windows and iconic sound when starting, this sound has become associated with the firm and the Microsoft and the Windows brand. However, despite this strong association Microsoft has stopped using the recognisable sound, probably as part of the ongoing brand renewal strategy which is ongoing.

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2.Benefits of Branding

Branding is undertaken to help support sales and revenue generation; stimulating initial sales and then retain sales. By creating a string brand name with the associations identified above in terms of brand identity, the consumers perceptions may be influenced which potential to impact on the purchase decision.  When a consumer makes a purchase, they will traverse the purchase process model, usually defined as occurring in five stages; need/desire recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post purchase behaviour. Branding has the potential to impact across all of these stages, potentially influencing the process in favour of that particular brand. Strong brands have the potential to stimulate the perception of a need or a desire; as seen with Coca-Cola and the sound of the bottle opening included in the advertisements, often accompanied by images of an apparently refreshing drink, seeking to stimulate thirst. Apple have also been good at stimulating a need or desire with the launch of new products, which consumers decide they want. However, in many instances, the need recognition will be associated with a product or product category rather than a specific brand, with branding playing an important role in the information search and subsequent evaluation. After a need/desire is recognised, the second stage involves an information search in order to garner knowledge of the potential alternatives on the market which may satisfy that need. Where a company has successfully stimulated the need, the information search may be limited. However, depending upon the type of purchase being made, the information search may be extensive, the collection of data from a number of sources. The sources will include existing perceptions regarding the company and its products, as well as marketing messages, which will be heavily influenced by the branding. If a brand is known, there will be preconceptions that will provide information. If a brand is not known, rebranding itself is likely to create assumptions based on the associations created by the brand presentation. During the evaluation stage, consumers will choose the product/brand which they think is most suited to their needs, this will include consideration of elements such as functionality, quality, price, as well as intangible elements such as company values and practices. Branding has the potential to influence perceptions across all of these potential considerations. For example, Ryanair and easyJet have brands which represent a low price and value, Apple has a brand identity associated with innovation and premium pricing. Effective branding can reduce the amount of effort placed into both the information search and the evaluation; if a consumer believes they have found a product which will meet their needs are unlikely to continue searching. Within the evaluation stage, familiarity decreases the potential risks associated with a brand, making the purchase of that brand more likely. Branding also has the potential to support loyalty and increase the amount of repeat purchases. Where a consumer has a positive experience with a brand they are more likely to make repeat purchases, with brand recognition facilitating the process. Customers may gravitate automatically to brands they know, like, and are familiar with, effectively reducing competition.

Once a brand has been purchased, there is the potential for associations with the brand to provide psychological satisfaction to the consumer. During the purchase process, the considerations will have included many dimensions, including the associated brand values and brand culture. Consumers may feel good purchasing brands they associate with good ethical or environmental practices or may also utilise brands as a form of conspicuous consumption, where the use of the product is undertaken in an overt manner providing one method of the individual displaying their own personality, tastes or values.

Therefore, branding has a number of benefits, including influencing the purchase decision, increasing consumer trust, leveraging associations to stimulate a desire/need, reducing perceptions of risk, creating positive associations for the target market, increasing recognition, and reducing the amount of effort placed into the cognitive processes when assessing alternative choices, all of which have the aim of increasing sales.

3.B2B/B2C Branding

Business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) have a number of similarities as well as differences. It is frequently argued that the requirements of branding for these two different types of transaction are different with the assumption that business buyers will choose suppliers utilising a less emotional buying model, utilising predetermined objective measures which reduce uncertainties. This assumption may be accurate, especially where contracts put out to tender, and choices are made on the lowest bid satisfying relevant threshold criteria. However, this does not mean branding is not beneficial within the B2C market. The B2B buyers may still be influenced by conscious and subconscious explicit and implicit messages that are created through branding practices, which makes them susceptible to those messages and associations. The main difference between the B2B and B2C purchase process is of the target market; branding for a company that undertakes pure B2B transactions may be more limited, as it has a smaller target audience. However, many commercial organisations that undertake pure B2B transactions will seek to increase awareness of their brand across a larger audience, as their buyers are also members of the wider community. For example, JCB sell only to business purchasers and users, with a relatively small potential target market, but they undertake branding, supported by PR exercises, which will appeal to the mass market. For example, dancing tractors often shown at country shows, as well as JCB racing at Diggerland in Kent. Therefore, branding has the same potential benefits, and may operate in the same way, within the context of a slightly altered purchase process, which may be reliant on more inputs, and a greater level of effort placed onto the evaluation of the alternatives.

Many B2B firms operate in dual markets, selling to both businesses and consumers, for example, Microsoft sell operating systems and associated software to businesses and consumers, while Caterpillar sell earthmoving machinery within the commercial environment, but have footwear and other clothing ranges that are sold to the mass market. In these cases, branding will support both markets, as long as the grand identity and its accompanying image and culture is conducive to the needs of both markets.

Branding within the B2C market may benefit from shorter processes, and a greater level of emotional or impulse inputs into purchase decisions. These elements may benefit from positive branding, as it reduces the cognitive processes to make a brand purchase easier. However, branding within this market may also be more complex due to the greater potential diversity of consumer needs, and differences concerning the way branding messages may be interpreted.

4.Branding Equity

The effectiveness at a brand at impacting on buyer decisions, supporting and revenue generation, is reflected in the concept of brand equity. Brand equity may be defined as the value that a brand adds to a product, when it is compared to a similar product without a recognised brand name, and the value this creates for the company. For example, if there are two tins of baked beans, one has a generic label, and one has a Heinz label, it is likely the team with the Heinz label will have a higher price. The price premium on the brand, reflects the brand equity. However, not all of this price premium will always make it back to the manufacturer, with retailers or third-party intermediaries often taking a cut for facilitating the transaction. This makes measuring brand equity difficult to ascertain, with several approaches developed to quantify brand equity. These include:

  • The difference between the price premium for the branded goods compared to the generic products. For example, if a tin of branded baked beans sells at £1, and a non-branded tin sells at 75p, the price premium is 25p.
  • Returns created for shareholders based on the value of the brand creates through price premium and/or increased market share. This can be more difficult to ascertain and requires assessment of the returns for the branded company compared to the returns created by similar non-branded firms. This approach will require adjustments to be made to account for differences which increases the subjectivity of this approach.
  • The potential earnings of the brand in the long-term, this is a variation of the dividend discount model where the future earnings of a firm are assessed and discounted to allow for the time value of money, to give a current value. This is also subject measure and can be difficult as the forecasts for future sales may be wrong, especially if new brands emerge of the brand suffers a setback. For example, if BP used this measure to assess brand equity before the Deepwater Horizon disaster it would have been much higher when compared to the measurement immediately after. Assumptions regarding the time value of money (including inflation) may also be wrong; the longer the time period used the greater the potential for errors.
  • Increases in sales volume or value created by the brand when compared to similar category number and it products. This can also be difficult to measure, as not all the sales increases/decreases will be due to branding. Comparisons may also be difficult, with adjustments being required for differences in the size and scale of comparator operations to create a like for like comparison.
  • Prices of the organisations shares when compared to similar organisations without branded products. This also requires adjustments made to allow for differences in terms of operating and other costs
  • A combination of factors which draw on firm/brand performance based on market share, revenues, profitability, price sensitivity, cost of customer acquisition and retention, and marketing investments, benchmarking the firms’ inputs and outputs to nonbranded firms, or industry averages.

Once a firm has built a brand equity, they need to retain that equity through the utilisation of maintenance marketing; continuing to support the brand and its messages. This may include renewing the brand image, especially if the product or the firm is reaching the maturity stage of its life-cycle, as well as adapting it to accommodate new tastes. For example, Apple have changed their branding strategy several times over the years, with a multicoloured Apple designed by Robert Jan off between 1977 and 1998, the company moved briefly to a blue Apple in 1998, before adopting a black monochrome silhouette of an Apple between 1998 and 2000, a semi-translucent aqua coloured Apple between 2001 and 2007, then 2007 the brand logo being a two-tone white Apple. Throughout all the changes, the shape of the logo remained the same, but the colour and effects changed to remain stylish and up-to-date. Brands may also be reinvigorated with the adoption of new text or taglines, as seen with McDonald’s and the adoption of the tagline ‘I’m Lovin It’ adopted in 2003 which became the company’s first global branding campaign. Similar to any marketing campaign, branding needs to remain relevant and up-to-date in order to avoid losing its relevance in becoming obsolete.

Think about a product category where there are branded and generic (or own brand) products. What is the price difference, how might this relate to brand equity?

Hint; there is more than one way of measuring brand equity

5.Conclusion

Branding is an element within the promotional aspect of the marketing mix, utilised to create a brand identity which consists of the image, positioning, personality, and culture, which supports and is also supported by the brand architecture. The creation of the brand identity will include many different facets which are incorporated within the marketing, and include both tangible and intangible aspects, not only the values and general marketing messages to create assumptions, but the physical aspects such as the text and font utilised, colours adopted, as well as other visual and auditory images. By undertaking branding, companies are seeking to enhance their reputation and positive associations in order to support the sale, and ongoing repeat purchases, of their products. This is true regardless of the type of transaction, with branding in B2B and B2C having more similarities than differences. Were undertaken effectively, branding will create value for the organisation through the increased sales, which will also reflect on the organisation’s performance and valuation, with the value being referred to as brand equity. Therefore, branding may be seen as one of the most important elements of the marketing strategy.

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Recommended Texts

Aaker, J.L. (1997). Dimensions of Brand Personality. Journal of Marketing Research, XXXIV 347-356.

Ansoff, H.I. (1965). Corporate Strategy: An Analytic Approach to Business Policy for Growth and Expansion. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Silva, P. (2017). How Much Does Branding Cost? Forbes, July. Available from https://www.forbes.com/sites/piasilva/2017/07/13/how-much-does-branding-cost/#2314caae667c.

Wheeler, A. 2012. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team. London. John Wiley & Sons

References

Aaker, J.L. (1997). Dimensions of Brand Personality. Journal of Marketing Research, XXXIV 347-356.

Ansoff, H.I. (1965). Corporate Strategy: An Analytic Approach to Business Policy for Growth and Expansion. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Silva, P. (2017). How Much Does Branding Cost? Forbes, July. Available from https://www.forbes.com/sites/piasilva/2017/07/13/how-much-does-branding-cost/#2314caae667c.

Case Study 1 - Lamborghini

Lamborghini is a well-known ultra-premium sports car brand. The company has had a difficult history. Lamborghini was founded in 1964, but faced financial problems in the 1970s, traversing bankruptcy on four occasions between 1978 and 1981. In 1998, Lamborghini was purchased by Audi, who are part of the Volkswagen group. However, despite all its difficulties, the company has been able to maintain a very strong brand image which has continued to support sales and retain customer loyalty.

The brand identity has been created to reflect extremely high-quality cars which will provide a high performance and pleasurable experience for purchasers. The brand identity is made up of several elements. Firstly, the image of the brand reflects the use of the cars, with the branding supported through social media, highlighting the exclusiveness of the cars, with an image of luxury, flamboyance, and association with Italian style. The image also infers the relationship the brand has with its target market; exclusive and elitist. The brand logo is a raging bull, portrayed in a shield, with the ball and the word Lamborghini above it in gold, against a black background. The image of the bull may stimulate associations with raw power and masculinity, while the colours reflect opulence and luxury, as well as providing a highly stylised badge which is immediately recognisable. The association with the bull is also enhanced through the way the company names the different vehicle models, all of which are named after different types of bulls.

The strength of the branding can be appreciated by examining the companies following. Firstly, the company has a very loyal following, with many buyers purchasing additional cars as they are released. The popularity of the brand can also be seen on social media, where the company has many millions of followers on Facebook, despite only selling cars, and not undertaking any significant brand extensions to leverage its brand name.

Lamborghini is different to many other sports car brands, with a very limited range of cars, indicating a highly constrained brand architecture, not even participating in Formula One motor racing, a strategy seen in other major manufacturers such as McLaren and Ferrari. Many other sports car brands have also leveraged their names with an extensive brand architecture to maximise sales across different segments of their target market, selling not only cars, but licensing additional branded merchandise such as clothing ranges. The Lamborghini approach emphasises exclusivity and may be argued as increasing the perceived value of the brand to the existing purchases. It is also noticeable that the Lamborghini brand does not leveraged its association with its owner companies, either Audi or Volkswagen, which means the Lamborghini brand may be categorised as a freestanding brand. With a reputation for exclusivity, and a super-premium price, the brand benefits from its independence, as associations with lower market brands may have a negative impact on the brand perception.

The brand appears to go from strength to strength, with company sales increasing consistently between 2010 and 2017, with the financial performance invariably reflecting the high level of brand equity created by the brand identity.

Case Study 2 - Colgate Packaged Meals

Colgate, owned by Colgate-Palmolive, is a US-based firm which is well known for its toothpaste. Colgate, which was founded in 1806, are known for their toothpaste which is available with a range of different options to suit different consumer preferences, for example different flavoured pace, as well as toothpaste for different types of teeth, with the choice and effective branding making it one of the world’s leading toothpaste brands.

In 1982 the company decided to undertake a diversification strategy in order to increase revenues. Examining the marketplace, Colgate decided that there was an opportunity in the frozen food market, with the sale of ready to eat meals. The company designed and launched a new range of frozen meals in the United States called Kitchen Entrees, with the package emblazoned with the Colgate name and logo. The idea was to benefit from the growing market for ready meals, with the company presuming a link between eating and subsequent dental hygiene, believing people would eat the meals and then clean their teeth with Colgate toothpaste. Colgate targeted single people with the aim of appealing to a desire for convenience. Colgate had a stronger financial performance of time, so invested significantly in the marketing, including advertisements on the Lifetime Channel, as well as print advertisements in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, as well as Glamour Magazine.

The campaign was a complete failure. Consumers did not purchase the product, with reports of consumers saying the Colgate image which was pictured on the package created the perception of a toothpaste taste, which undermined the messages needed to sell the meal.

Colgate had believed they could leveraged their brand image to broaden their appeal, utilising a brand extension strategy, and moving towards a branded house strategy utilising the Kitchen Entree brand name which was utilised alongside Colgate. However, consumers did not see the alignment, and the cobranding caused confusion. In this case, the brand architecture was not managed effectively, with the associations of one product being transferred to another, creating negative perceptions. It may be argued that if Colgate had created a stand-alone brand they may have had a different outcome.


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