Branding is one of the most important aspects of any organisation, large or small. If asked what a brand is, most people would be able to identify a brand giving examples such as Coca-Cola, BP, or Lamborghini. The idea of a brand will automatically create associations with the product or service that is offered, and the characteristics that are associated with that product or service. Marketers work hard to create the associations as a way of influencing the purchase decision, using a range of tools. This chapter looks at branding, starting by defining what it is and the different components that come together to make a brand. The chapter will also explore the benefits of branding, the similarities and differences comparing branding in the commercial and consumer markets, and the concept of brand equity.
What is Branding?
Branding is part of the marketing process. A brand will be developed with the aim of creating a unique identity for a product or service. Effective branding facilitates the creation of positive associations with the brand, these association may be linked to the product itself and the benefits it will provide but may also relate to values and/or aspirations, which are brought to mind in the target market when they see the brand. Many examples of successful and effective branding exist; McDonalds with the golden arches ‘M’ located above the restaurant roof, the white script style Coca-Cola text, and the Nike swoosh. Companies may spend high amounts to create and then sustain brands; an article in Forbes Magazine in 2017 claimed the average cost was between US $1,000 - $50,000 (Silva, 2017). Major brands may spend many millions of dollars, not always successfully. Gap develop a new logo for their brand and abandoned it with months as it was unpopular with their customers.
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While companies spend a great deal to develop brands, the evolution does not take place in a vacuum; external events may also impact on brand associations, which may either support the brand messages/association, or may contradict or undermine the brand image. BP suffered negative publicity as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The messages in the news, with accompanying images were so powerful, the brand could not escape. It is unsurprising that the firm rebranded following the disaster, seeking to create a kore up to date image and positive message. Whatever the status of the branding; to create and maintain a positive brand message, or the desire to overcome poor brand association, there will be commonalities in the strategies adopted, including the way the brand components are developed and brought together. There are many different components, these can be considered individually and proceed the introduction.
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