Brand Management - Performance

Since the idea of branding came into existence and settled in practice, some brands such as Nike, Coca Cola, Nivea, Amazon, etc., have been ruling the marketplace as successful ones. They were novice and had started as ordinary names with some innovative products or services at some point of time. With the efforts required for growing in the contemporary market, these brands became leading, exemplary, and powerful.

In this chapter, we see what makes a brand successful over a long frame of time and how to assess brand performance.

Launching a Brand

Brand launching is not the same as product or service launching. Products change but a brand is to stay. Brand launch is a long-term project unlike product launch.

When a brand launches a product say P, and advertises for it, the competitors copy it after some time. Since all products go obsolete after some time, the brand chooses to replace the product P with some new product NewP, advocating its benefits and upgrading its quality to the consumer. This NewP often gets the benefit of the previous known product P. This is how a brand comes into life.

From this point onwards, the products under the brand are sold by brand itself and not by mere advertising. Here, the product name (common noun) becomes a brand name (Proper noun). Over a time, brand gets more unique, builds its way of communication, and develops a rich meaning. Thus, a brand starts with a product and continues growing with multiple products.

This was all about how a new product is converted to a brand. But launching a new brand is different.

A successful brand launching needs treating a brand as a large entity than as a product. Right from the start, a new brand is considered as a complete entity in itself endowed with functional and non-functional values and presenting as if it is well-established.

Steps for Launching a New Brand

Take the following steps while launching a new brand in the market −

Step 1 − Draft the brand program. Try to get the answers for the following questions −

  • Existence − Why is the brand necessary? What will the consumers miss if the brand does not exist?

  • Vision − What is brand’s vision in some X product category?

  • Ambition − What does the brand want to change in its consumer’s life?

  • Values − What will the brand never compromise on?

  • Know-How − What are brand’s capabilities?

  • Territory − Where is the brand providing its lawful benefits? What are its product categories?

  • Style, Tone, and Language − How a brand is going to communicate?

  • Reflection − What image the brand wants its consumers to render about itself?

Step 2 − Define brand identity prism.

Step 3 − Create brand positioning.

  • Identify potential added values for the brand based on its image, identity, and heritage.

  • Explore four major scenarios: Why? Against whom? For whom? When?

  • Test the above scenarios, redefine or eliminate them if required. Conduct consumer studies, ideas and formulations.

  • Conduct strategic evaluation of potential sales and profits in the marketspace.

Step 4 − Determine flagship product of the brand. Carefully choose which product or service you think you should introduce as a first campaign. This star product is going to form the brand’s identity subsequently.

Step 5 − Choose a strong brand name. Choose it by estimating the future changes the brand can undergo. Look for meaningful, short, and easy to pronounce names. Do not choose a deceptive or descriptive name.

Step 6 − Create brand slogan and jingle that is easy, meaningful, and memorable by consumers.

Step 7 − Reach out to opinion leaders (people who are influencers) and conduct brand advertisements in various media to create awareness among the consumers.

Sustaining a Brand in the Long Run

Many brands have been with us for a long time and many are still struggling for survival. Why do some brands sustain by escaping the effects of time and why do some brands vanish?

There are many reasons why brands start performing low and eventually lead to vanishing −

  • A brand not being able to withstand market changes and competitors.

  • New cheaper entrants in the market, which destabilize added value of the established brand.

  • A brand not able to suffice consumer’s needs, or customized requirements.

  • A brand not able to attract upcoming generation of consumers all over again when current consumers grow old.

  • A brand marketing and management team lacking foresightedness.

These are few most common facts why brands start to decline. To last for a long term, the following vital points a brand must adhere to −

  • Keep on innovating on the fronts of product quality, design, and consumer’s convenience.

  • Always keep its reputation good.

  • Always remain contemporary with the changes in the consumer’s culture, preferences, economic and technological changes, and new market openings in the world.

  • Always keep itself noticeable to the target market.

  • Work on not to lose its market share for cheap copies of the products.

  • Work on acquiring superior image and then keeping it.

  • Price its products appropriately depending upon the target market’s income.

  • Present itself in the quality environment which is as high as its product offers.

  • Control the relationship with the opinion leaders and distribution of products.

  • Defend its intellectual properties against theft or sneaking intrusion.

Adapting the Brand to Suit Various Markets

A brand cannot survive if it does not change according to the market changes. Brand management needs to cater to different branding policies to introduce the product in different countries around the world.

The market is not the same worldwide. First, the growth takes place in developing countries, then in underdeveloped countries, and finally in developed countries.

In developing countries such as India, the economic growth rate is fast and there are favorable business conditions. It is also revealed that the customer in developing countries is more brand cautious than that of in the developed countries.

In developed countries of USA and Europe, the market is matured. There is not much significant growth and innovation taking place. In such matured markets, brand needs to stimulate the new desires and new experiences of the consumer.

Brand managers need to work by considering changes in the domains of politics, economics, evolution of society, technology, consumer behavior and fads, all of which play an important role while branding in different markets.

Handling Brand Name Changes

When it comes to brand name changes, some examples flash such as Anderson → Accenture, Datsun → Nissan, Pal → Pedigree, and Phillips → Whirlpool, Backrub → Google, to name a few.

Brand Name Changes

Brand transfer is a lot more than brand’s name change. A brand’s established name has links with emotional associations, empathy, and preference in its consumers’ mind. The loyalty and trust of the customers cannot be transferred easily to just one entity: the brand name. The brand image is required to be transferred.

When to Change a Brand Name

A brand’s name is changed in the following scenarios −

  • When the existing name sounds weak or is not able to establish its position in the market.

  • When a brand wants to present its upgraded product or service.

  • When a brand wants to introduce more clarity in its name.

  • When a brand needs to distant itself from negating effects of the existing name.

  • When a brand wants to get instant recognition in the market while expanding globally.

What to do Before Changing a Brand Name

There are few estimations the brand managers need to work on −

  • Estimate and quantify the costs

    It includes the costs required for changing −

    • Promotional properties such as banners, hoardings, website ads, business properties such as letterheads and business cards.

    • Company literatures such as white papers, data sheets, and presentations.

    • Electronic properties such as website, newsletter, blogs, etc.

    • Other in-house properties such as templates, folder names, network node names, etc.

  • Judge the benefits and losses

    Try to find out answers for the following questions −

    • How long the existing name is in use? How much goodwill has the existing name built?

    • How would it affect the consumers?

    • How would it affect the market share of the brand?

  • Analyze target audience and market

    • Consider the target audience, culture, language, symbols, and preferences.

    • Consider the average purchasing frequency of the customer.

    • Identify the characteristics the customer associates with the brand.

Handling Brand Transfer

To handle actual brand transfer, follow the given steps −

  • Chalk out a plan of brand transfer.

  • Let every department know, that it is going to be a combined effort of all departments in the company.

  • Warn the employees, retailers, opinion leaders and prescribers well in advance.

  • Communicate clearly to the customers about the brand change.

  • Invest time for all customers to know about the brand transfer.

  • Keep the transitional period of the brand transfer minimal.

Brand Image Transfer

The following three factors facilitate brand image transfer −

Product Resemblance

When consumers consider source brand’s product and target brand’s product or product category similar. For example, it is more likely for a pasteurized milk brand to boost a lowcalorie cheese brand than a soap brand.

Target Group Resemblance

If the target brand aims for the same target group as the source brand, there are high chances of target brand succeeding as the initial purchases of a target brand will mainly be made by consumers of the source brand. When the target brand tailors to another target group then initial sales will not be significantly high.

Family Resemblance

Family resemblance means that the look and feel of the source brand and the target brand have to be largely the same. The consumers are perceived by symbols and colors while assessing the brand hence a similar style can transfer their associations with the source brand to the target brand.

Family Resemblance

Image transfer may still become successful, provided the marketing communication is clear and aggressive, and advertising campaign is intensive.