For modern consumers, brands represent a unique symbol that defines and determines the comp[any and its products. Branding has a great impact on a company’s market position and adds value to its image. A company’s market share, current, and future may fluctuate readily. Competitors’ marketing mixes are designed to switch customers to their own brands. Thus, executives are concerned with brand switching–they wish to increase the switch-in rate and decrease the switch-out rate. In spite of the great popularity of many brands, “Brands cannot be expected to last forever”.
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Brands cannot last forever because they are just a company’s image, which can be changed and transformed. From historical examples of the Enlightenment period or Rococo, it becomes evident that social and cultural values and tastes are changed greatly. It is difficult to imagine that a popular product of the Enlightenment would be still relevant today and would keep its name and features (Gregory 2007). The problem is that brands are not cultural symbols and representations of the historical epoch. From the corporate point of view, the total branding purpose is to capitalize on existing and potential resources and translate them into profitable marketing ventures. The example of Adidas or McDonald’s shows that to do so, the companies shape, change, and modify consumer behavior to bring it into line with corporate objectives and thereby gain a competitive advantage. Hence, although consumers shape business activity, marketing programs are designed to influence consumer behavior. During periods of expanding markets, volume, price, and distribution channels are important factors and mass branding supports them. As markets mature, branding becomes a competitive weapon. Now minor product adjustments are stressed to persuade consumers who know the product to select it over competitors’ products, and to endeavor to increase the rate of use. Branding does support the actual distribution of products and can be used to push or pull a product through distribution channels. By creating demand at the ultimate consumer level, L’Oreal branding can influence retailer and wholesaler decisions to carry a product — this pulls the product through the channels (Gregory 2007).
Brands and branding should not be confused with art, culture, and social symbols. Brands are a part of marketing, and if the company disappears from the market or bankrupts in some years, its brand would disappear also. The brand does not exist in isolation from the company, marketing campaigns, and consumers who buy the product (Aaker, 2003).
A lack of consensus often exists within a company as to what branding is designed to do. The role and purpose of branding are to burst sales, introduce a new product, develop a general image, or promote a brand name. All of these are legitimate branding tasks, each of which requires a different solution. It is useful to distinguish the task of maintaining market position from that of cultivating and developing new markets (Ind, 1998). Marketing management must define its branding tasks unambiguously before effective campaigns are launched (Schmitt and Simonson 2008). The nature of branding tasks is indicated by the decisions that must be made: the amount of money to be spent on branding, the allocation of the budget among classes of media, the specific media to be selected within each class, the frequency and continuity of ads, the makeup of the specific messages to be presented, and the kinds and amount of branding research.
Aaker, D. 2003. Managing Brand Equity, New York: Free Press.
Gregory, J. R. 2007. Leveraging the Corporate Brand, Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books.
Ind, N. 1998. “An Integrated Approach to Corporate Branding,” Journal of Brand Management 6 (5): 323-329.
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