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What is a brand?

According to American Marketing Association (AMA): A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, indented to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition Thus, the key to creating a brand, according to the AMA definition, is to be able to choose a name, logo, symbol, package design or other characteristic that identifies a product and distinguishes it from others. These different components of a brand that identify and differentiate it are brad elements. According to Sir Khalid Mehmood: A brand is a promise of consistency in quality What is a Product? A product is anything that we can offer to a market for attention, acquisition, use, or consumption that might satisfy a need or want Thus a product may be a physical good like a cereal, tennis racquet, or automobile; a service such as an airline, bank, or insurance company; a retail outlet like a departmental store, or supermarket; a person such as political figure. We can define five levels of meaning for a product. 1. The core benefit level: It is the fundamental need or want that consumers satisfy by consuming the product or service. 2. The generic product level: It is a basic version of the product containing only those attributes or characteristics absolutely necessary for its functioning but with no distinguishing features. This is basically a stripped down, no frills version of the product. 3. The expected product level: It is a set of attributes or characteristics that buyers normally expect and agree to when they purchase a product. 4. The augmented product level: It includes additional product attributes, benefits, or related services that distinguish the prduct from competitors.

5. The potential product level: It includes all the augmentations and transformations that a product might ultimately undergo in the future. Brand vs Product: A product is physical whereas a brand is emotional! A brand is therefore more than a product, because it can have dimensions that differentiate it in some way from other products designed to satisfy the same need. These differences may be rational and tangible-related to product performance of the brand-or more symbolic, emotional, and intangible-related to what the brand represents. One marketing observer put it this way: what distinguishes a brand from its unbranded commodity counterpart and gives it equity is the sum total of consumers perceptions and feelings about the products attributes and how they perform, about the brand name and what it stands for, and about the company associated with the brand Some brands create competitive advantage with product performance. For example, brands such as Gillette, Merck, others have been leaders in the product categories for decades, due, in part, to continual innovation. Other brands cerate competitive advantages through non-product-related means. For example, Coca-Cola, Channel No.5, and others have been leaders in their product categories. The difference between a product and brand is that a product refers to the physical object produced either a physical or a service, whereas brand refers to the title given to the certain product or services that is recognizable to the consumers. Product is the item which the brand produces. A certain product can have several brands meaning they are produced by different companies or manufacturers. There are also times when a particular brand produces different type of products Example: Product: Detergent Powder. Brands: Tide, Ariel, Henkel (...etc) Sometimes, there are brands that has other products. For instance, Tide has detergent powder, detergent bar, etc.

A brand can be far more than a product. A brand can be a service, a city, and even you can position yourself as a brand. A brand helps to recognize a product or service. In the earlier years of branding, a brand represented the quality of a product. Now it has gone far beyond that. A brand can represent a lifestyle alongside quality. People feel comfortable with a certain brand, not only because of the product but also because it gives self-esteem or creates an image. A brand can extend to almost anything! Importance of Brands for manufacturers:

Means of identification to simply handling or tracing Means of legally protecting unique features Signal of quality level to satisfied customers Means of endowing products with unique associations Source for competitive advantage Source of financial returns

Strategic brand management 3e , Kevin Lane Keller, prentice Hall, 2008(page # 24,25,27,29)

The Six Brand Value Exchange QualitiesA)Social Dimension To become a brand, an entity must have a social purpose. The social purpose can be to benefit the brand owner in his social setting, i.e., one that allows him to become more acceptable in a certain peer group or to perpetuate an ideal that the brand hopes to develop as a competitive edge, i.e., as a tool to grow a certain social trend or ideas which have a mass appeal for example, Nike-Just do it. To deliver and sustain this social dimension of the brand, companies must invest in the development of certain product features or create programs/ processes/ campaigns that will allow the entity to fulfill that purpose.An entity that has no social dimension is simply satisfying the functional purpose of what it is supposed to do, for example, Bata with its Power brand is just manufacturing sports shoes without much cost

on advertisements, knowing that people dont really go for their sports range and stick to Batas formal collection. They compensate by displaying those shoes in their main Bata showrooms which gives them satisfactory sales. On the other hand a company like Reebok is trying to convince its customers of the social relevance of its brands by starting an add campaign staring Thierry Henry one of the best football players in the world to promote its slogan Run Easy. In India it is using Henry along with our cricketing Gods like Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for that very purpose. B) Personal Enrichment Dimension A brand must bring relevance to the person who owns it. It must be able to bring about fulfillment that is more than just the functional purpose of the entity. Why would people be willing to pay 3 to 4 times the normal price for a bouquet of roses on Valentines Day? It is because Valentines Day is a brand and on that day, couples can fulfill their desire to show the degree of affection and love to each other. Its not about the roses or oopsI paid three times more. When the roses exchange hands between the giver and the receiver, both of them feel happy; their lives are enriched by the brand called The Valentines Day.Thus the true brand must be able to capture that essence of bringing about personal enrichment to the brand owner. Without that essence, its just another product or service or company. C) Influence Dimension A brand must be able to provide the brand owner with the capacity to influence an individual, a group, a situation or a society. However the most important influence that the brand must have is to enable the brand owner to influence himself on the ideals that he hopes to achieve or gain. An entity that lacks the capacity to influence cannot be classified as a brand because it offers no real capability to earn economic value, such as enabling high growth increment in sales.This perhaps explains why many companies invest heavily in advertising and promotional activities yet they fail to achieve high sales return from those investments. While these companies see high sales only during the period of promotion, they suffer an almost exponential slump in sales when those advertisements are stopped. There is no strong sustainable high sales growth because their entity lacks the power to influence. D) Innovation Advantage Dimension These days innovation is the key word for the business to survive. Companies wishing to become a brand cannot afford to be followers. They must invest significantly on innovation that will provide them the first mover advantage to quickly capitalize on the opportunity of the day and maximize the economic returns from their market share. There is no point in claiming to be branded while you are just a laggard or copycat to innovative ideas brought by others. Society admires and support leaders who bring meaning to their lives. This has been so in the past

and it will be so for times to come. Innovation can be in many forms like the product functions, aesthetics business processes related to the brand, etc. E) Security/ Assurance Dimension Security, or in laymans language peace of mind, is an important quality of a brand makeup. No company should seriously claim to be a brand or that it owns when it cannot afford its market the peace of mind form the point when the brand is first communicated to the point when the brand has exhausted its usefulness to its owner. Security and assurance builds trust which is important for a brand to grow its economic value and profit from it. Although the security assurance aspects of the brand can be provided by process means like providing lifetime warranty programs, etc., it is even more important for the brand to project and provide this quality from the experiential and psychological aspects of the brand.F) Access and Availability Dimension It is not uncommon to find great and truly unique products or services that can have considerable mass appeal to be completely inaccessible or unavailable. For an entity to be a real brand, it must be reachable to the target markets through proper development of access channels. The brand distribution must blanket the entire market it intends to cover through various mediums.Companies must also put in place policies and business processes that encourage the brand to be as close as possible to its prospective markets. You and I have come across many situations where the policies and the business processes or procedures of a company simply turn off our initial interests in getting to know more of the brand. It is not uncommon to come across many red tapes and barriers to access a certain service due too policies that are put in place. We have also experienced inconvenience to locate a certain brand due to its retail location, strode environment, etc. Inappropriate price barriers also turn off customers. All these barriers prevent the brand to become successful. Therefore, a true brand management must seek to address these issues and begin to build greater accessibility and availability as a part of the quality of its brands.These six value exchange dimensions are important to define what a brand is today. This is the essence of a true brand and a better understanding of what a brand means today can help companies to manage their brands better for the future. Companies need not waste money and resources on programs and activities that have no impact on their strategic goals.