Branding is the essence of a business success. Phillip Kotler, a famous marketing author said “communicate value is called branding”. Businesses communicate value of a brand. So, branding is the action to communicate about a brand. He also said that “branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand”. Thus, Thanks to the power of a brand, we can sell better our products and services. The role of Branding is about adding value to a brand, and positioning it in the customer’s mind. In order to understand the term of “branding”, we need to know what does brand mean.
What is a brand? What does it mean?
Some words come to our mind when we think about “brand”: product, logo, name etc. But, a brand is much more than that. We can find thousands of definitions on what a brand really is. Here, we are going to see just a few of them.
Phillip Kotler said “A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitor”.
This definition is interesting, because tells us that a brand can be identified and differentiated. First of all, we can identify a brand by some elements: the brand identity of a business answers to the question of who you are. It’s a personality. The visual identity, it’s the way a business present itself to the world with different elements: logo, colors, fonts, website, print materials like business cards and brochures etc. And then, we can differentiate a brand by our perceptions: A brand is a totality of perceptions. Everything we see, hear, read, know, feel, think about a product, a service or business. What is important here, is the “how people perceive you”. The brand positioning is how do you want consumers perceive you? All these questions have to be asking by the marketers, to build their brand. Jeff Bezos CEO Amazon said “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person”. His definition of brand is important here. According to him, brand is also about what people feel about you. It’s emotional. Kotler also defines brand like a distinctive position in customer’s minds based on : past experiences, associations and future expectations, attributes, benefits, beliefs and values, that differentiate, reduce complexity, simplify, the decision making process.
Another famous American marketing author Seth Godin’s calls brand “a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” it is how do you build your brand which will influence the choice of people; brand is also about experiential: living the brand. Some customers will choose a product or a service because they have a connection with the brand. It’s like a relationship with a person.
A brand is a promise according to Kotler. Brand promise is the marketer’s vision of what the brand must be and do for consumers. A brand stands for something. For instance Starbucks does not stand for serving coffee but for “serving people”.
And finally, according to George Lewi, Jérôme Lacoeuilhe, marketing authors: “band is a mental landmark in a marketing place based on tangible values and intangible values.” This definition is important to describe for understand the notion of branding.
The authors define tangible values as objective elements that we can compare and measure. There are: product and services, notoriety and qualitative objectives point of view.
Product or service characteristics are mostly connected to a brand. A product has an identity with its packaging, functions, options etc. The consumers can recognize a product by all these elements. For instance, we can recognize a soft drink “Coca-Cola” by a red packaging. We can compare this packaging with “Pepsi” which is mostly black. These elements help the consumers to identify a product. The specific characteristics of the product will help the consumers to make a choice. Besides, it is measurable: we can measure how many elements are in the product? Are many ingredients? It is the description of the product. It is also the same for a service. Amazon.com has a resell service and fnac.com as well. Here we are talking about e-brand because it is online. We can compare the services of both e-brands. In amazon.com we can accumulate credits and in fnac.com we can have a loyalty card. It is important to make the difference between a brand name and a brand promise. For instance, Apple chooses different names for its products: Ipod, Iphone , Ipad etc. But the brand promise is making by Apple. All the products and services follow the same spirit of Apple. Sometimes, we do not connect the product to a brand. When that happens, means the products are not branded well. The brands are not strong enough to be recognized by the consumers. But that does mean the products are not selling well. It often happens in supermarket for instance. We can choose a product with “no name” or with an “unknown name”. Why? For example for its characteristics: price, ingredients, size etc. We can think also that the “no name” is also a strategy to be recognized like a discounted product. But, we need to remind the role of the brand is to win a place in the customer’s mind.
Notoriety is another element of tangibles values. It is defined like the degree of awareness to a brand: How many people know your brand? How many consumers know your product or services? This is the Brand Awareness. More your notoriety is strong, more your brand is recognized. But the brand awareness is also linked to the brand image. A company needs to build a strong brand image: the impression in the consumer’s mind of a brand. People have to talk about a brand in a positive way. If the impression is bad, the consequences in the activities of a company can be huge. For instance, The German car giant, Volkswagen has admitted cheating emissions tests in the US and about 11 million cars worldwide, including eight million in Europe, are fitted with the so-called "defeat device". Because of this scandal, the giant carmaker will lose a lot of money: consumers have lost the trust for the group. The new CEO of the Volkswagen Group, Matthias Müller said "My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group - by leaving no stone unturned". In this situation, a lot of people who does not know the company will know it: but not with a good image. The role of the company is to control its image and make sure people talk about its brand in a good way.
According to the authors, there are 4 degrees of notoriety:
Spontaneous notoriety it is when a brand is mentioned by memory. It refers to someone who says the name of a brand, without help. For example, what brands do you know in toothpaste market? And someone says “Colgate, Signal and Aquafresh”.
Top of mind means “the first name that comes to mind”. So, in the last example the top of mind was the brand “Colgate”. This action becomes symbolic in the market as a reflex.
Assisted notoriety it is when we help a person for mentioning a brand. For example, we can ask “which brand do you know?” By showing her the brands: Colgate, Signal and Aquafresh.
Qualified Notoriety it is when we ask a person to say all the products or services that she knows about a brand. For example, “what are the products of Apple that you know?” Someone can say “Ipod 5 and Iphone 6”.
For me, there is another degree of notoriety: “brand verbification notoriety”: When a brand becomes a verb. Nowadays, a lot of brands are using as a verb: Google, Skype, Photoshop etc. For example, we are saying: “I want to google. I need to skype. You have to Photoshop” Here, as we can see, a brand is more than a brand: it is verb. It is something that we use for talking.
The power of notoriety can lead to the brand loyalty. It is the degree of customer attachment to a brand. There are two degrees of brand loyalty:
Preference: it is when a consumer decides to choose a brand’s product. For example, when someone has the choice between a Samsung mobile and a LG mobile: he has decided to choose a Samsung mobile.
Insistence: it is when a consumer insists for having a product. We are used to say: it is a “must-have” product. It often happens for the products of games. The game “GTA 5” was one of the most expected products by some consumers. All of them have to buy the product before the release date.
All of the degrees of notoriety are measurable. It is possible to make a survey by asking questions to some consumers for instance. It is also possible to measure visits website etc. The Key performance indicators are important for evaluate the performance of a brand. Each company uses its own KPI.
Qualitative objectives point of view refer to all the elements of a product or service, which can satisfy the needs of the consumers. For instance the testimonies of consumers about a product or service can help a future prospect to make a choice. Some qualitative certifications from a product can also help a future prospect. All the elements have to be created by an exterior party, in order to be truly objective. We can notice that the exterior party builds the brand: organizations, consumers, clients and so on. All of them, participate to the branding. And all the elements created can be measurable.
The authors define intangible values as unmeasurable perceptions. There are characteristics that we cannot compare or measure. All of them are based on emotions or memory. The intangible values revolve around two axes: Sensory emotions and associates values.
Sensory emotions are created for stimulate consumer’s senses: sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste.
Sound: A company can use a sound in different situations. For example, we can use a specific music for a campaign: Swatch Group launched the watch “Swatch Touch”. The group released a TV spot and used the lively music of MC Hammer “can’t touch this”. The Watch was the first touch screen watch of the group. They used the lyrics “can touch this” instead of the original one. A sound can be used in a store for create a specific atmosphere. For instance, we can hear loud music in Abercrombie stores: it is like a night club.
Sight: the first visual brand identity that we can see, is the logotype. The logo takes part of the visual identity of a brand. There are different components: signs, colors etc. Each logo meaning something. Let’s take an example with the logo of
The typography is simple. The company uses two colors: purple and orange. But, we can see the arrow between the letters “E” and ‘X”. We can guess the meaning: the arrow represents the movement and the letters the word “express”. So the meaning could be: express delivery, because FedEx is specialized in merchandise transports. The logo is perceived by the audience and have to be coherent with brand promise.
Touch: the consumers can choose a product because of the sensation by touching. When a company sell a product by internet that could not be possible. The touch is very important in the decision making process of the consumers. For instance, the company Timberland uses a specific material, suede leather for its famous boots. We can recognize Timberland boots just by touching them.
Smell: A company can also use the smell to be recognized by its consumers. For instance, McDonald uses specific odors in its food. From far away, we can smell and recognize the food from McDonald. We can take also the example of the perfumes. It is the same story. Jean-Paul Gauthier perfume is easily recognizable by its fragrance. When we smell it, we can recognize it. The power of the smell, is the power of the brand.
Taste: the consumers can also choose a product because of its taste. If we close our eyes and we could recognize the brand of the product that means the brand is strong. For instance, when we taste a “kinder Bueno”: it is easy to recognize the product. There is a unique recipe owning and using by Ferrero Group.
In sum, a company can create emotions by the five senses and be easily recognized. A strong brand has the power to be identified and differentiated. But a firm can also create emotions by associating values. For example, “Amor Amor” perfume from Cacharel is very famous for its packaging, colors and fragrance. The color of red is mostly present in order to be associated to “passion”. Most of the time, we associate values from different signs or symbols etc. By using the red color, the consumers receive an emotional connection with the product. And when we understand that, we notice that everything is connected. The name of the product means “love love”: it is about a romantic feeling. Associate values in the customer’s mind is another way to build a strong brand. If people feel what you would like to share with them: you create an emotional connection. Nowadays, create emotions is everything. Why? Because today, most of the time people do not look at the product but look at the brand. Some products do not need to be sold by its functions: you just need to say it is from “Louis Vuitton” and people will buy; or you just need to create emotions, stories etc.
1.2.2 Brand Content
The notion of “brand content” is important to understand the term of branding. Nowadays, brands act as publishers, providing content for entertainment and information purposes. The role of the brands is to consider what is being created across the channels, who is interested for and what purpose it serves. It is through unique attributes that the brand can create an emotional connection with consumers. A company has to make sure that the content created represent the brand well: brand personality (it is like a guide that differentiate a brand in the marketplace). The content created by a company has to target a desired audience. The consumers need to find what they are looking for, what do they like, what do not they like etc.
What are the steps for building brand content?
Use its brand identity for associate values and themes with it.
Match formats and goals. A company needs to keep consumers engaged by using format that allow them to do so. A lot of formats are possible: photos, white papers, videos, audios, tweets, posts, articles etc.
After the content created, it is necessary to assemble together all the contents and see how well or not each content has an impact to the consumers. It is essential to analyze the results by using: Key Performance Indicators (KPI). The choice of the KPI would depend on the formats and goals selected.
Kevin Spacey, a famous American actor spoke to 2,600 marketers from 50 countries at Content Marketing World 2014, held September 8-11, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization. CMI teaches enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI's Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September in Cleveland, Ohio, USA
The actor said “the story is everything, which means that, it is our job to tell better stories”. According to him, it is necessary for a company to bring stories to the table for the consumers. “Good storytelling is conflict because conflict creates tension. And tension keeps people engaged with your story.”
The authenticity is the essence of the brand. It is important to “stay true to your brand and true to your voice. An audience is all responded that authenticity with enthusiasm and passion.”
He said “It is no longer about who you know, or how much you can afford, but what you can do”. People want stories. So, the job of the marketers is to give them what they are looking for. And they will talk about it, share it etc. Thus, they will build your brand.
In conclusion branding is everything about a company needs to communicate and support its brand positioning. Marketers need to teach consumers “who the product is by giving it a name and other brand elements to identify it. First, identify who are you? Second, what are you doing?
A brand needs to be memorable – the question is how easily do consumers recall and recognize the brand elements and when? At both purchase and consumption? A brand needs to be meaningful. The brand elements have to be credible. The aim of branding is to win customer’s heart and mind.