Marketing Brand Equity Position Strategies

Marketing and Branding

Discuss the history of brand and ways brands have evolve over time.

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The history of brand has quickly evolved from a relatively simple approach taken by companies to differentiate their products and services by name or graphical representation alone to highly targeted, effective, emotive approaches to communicating value. Brands have evolved from fairly generic approaches to communicating the functional value of a product or service to evoking emotions customers attain when using them. An example of this is the progression of Proctor & Gamble (P&G) to communicate the utilitarian values of soap in the previous centuries of their branding to the psychographic benefits to parents of providing clean clothes for their children. P&G continues to excel on this progression from the utilitarian or functional value their products deliver to the psychographic and emotive nature of them. Today the branding and positioning from P&G and other consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers concentrate on the contributory value of their products to the roles of consumers using them. In other words, using P&G soap and cleansers are marketed to imply a mother is more capable and caring for their family by using these products.

The progression of the Coca-Cola brand is also a case in point. This company is masterful at the evolution of brands, progressing across over 150 nations with their branding strategies, creating a highly positive, energy-charge persona of their customer. All of these factors are orchestrated to create a highly effective strategy of reinforcing the core messaging and differentiated value of Coca-Cola.

2) Discuss methods of building brand equity and ways of sustaining brand value.

The best brand managers seek to invest heavily in the brand equity of their brands through reinforcing of key factors that show it is worthy of trust, is consistent in delivering value, and can continually deliver value to the customer. Brand equity often takes years of work to create, as is evidenced by the Nike brand and their “Just Do It” initiatives and programs. The focus on how to bring the competitive advantages, energy, vitality and sense of accomplishment out of the experience of using their products also contribute to greater levels of brand equity than nay amount of advertising alone can contribute to.

The best brand marketers are continually looking at this intersection of the customers’ experience and the brand’s claimed attributes to further underscore the unique value proposition of the product. From this vantage point, it is the continual promises that brands make and their continual ability to keep those promises, delivering above the expectations that deliver brand equity. Brand equity can very well be equated to trust in a brand as well, as the greater the engrained behaviors are of the most loyal customers, the more likely their continued loyalty and repurchase of a given product.

Brand equity is built through a continual reinforcing of the innate, differentiated values of a given product and its experiential value over and above the utilitarian functionality it delivers. In the long-run the only way brand equity can be sustained is by continually exceeding customers’ expectations over the long-term. Sustaining brand value over time takes a skilled brand management team who anticipates shifts in customers’ needs and reacts quickly to stay relevant.

3) Identify and discuss the positioning strategies of Store Brands, Private label products and International Brands.

The positioning strategies of store brands, private label products and international brands all vary significantly based on market positioning, the unique value propositions of each product, extent of pricing elasticity in each product, and in the case of international brands, their level of congruence to cultural norms and values. Beginning with the positioning strategies of store brands, the goal of this type of branding centers on creating greater store or grocery chain loyalty, thereby driving up greater share of spending per shipping trip. This is especially the case in grocery chains that are increasingly rely on in-store brands to capture greater share-of-wallet spending on each trip to a store by their customers. Many grocery chains use store brands to test the elasticity of demand for highly profitable products they are selling for CPG manufacturers. An example of this is how the Safeway stores have created their own in-store brand of Centrum-level vitamins to compete with the highly successful vitamin line they also resell. Private label products fulfill a comparable role, allowing retailers to rebrand these products and therefore attain higher levels of brand loyalty over time. Private label products’ biggest advantage is that they alleviate the costs of manufacturing while freeing up brand marketers to focus entirely on brand equity management and creating product demand. International brands fulfill an entirely different role in that they are concentrating on the unique and often highly differentiated needs of a given market. As the cultural needs and requirements of a given market can vary significantly, international brands are often tailored to reflect the specific cultural, religious and often moral requirements of a given market. The Islamic communities throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East have very strict requirements for products, and international brands need to be cognizant of these and define product strategies accordingly.

4) Discuss the emerging trends of consumer brand products in the 21st. century.

Of the many trends influencing consumer brand products in the 21st century, by far the most pervasive and powerful is the rapid adoption of social networks. There are a myriad of implications for brand marketers of social networks and their pervasive adoption, yet the most significant is the fact that consumers are choosing entirely new channels of how to learn about new products. Hey’re also changing how they choose to stay connected with existing brands as well. All of this equates to a fundamental shift in the strategies, programs and product planning and launch cycles of consumer brand-based companies. The speed of this change is accelerating as well, as social networks are making it possible for customers to create and sustain their own communities online.

An ancillary point to the explosive growth of social networks is the need customers most loyal to brands feel the need to be involved in the brand itself; they seek to be part of the experience. The popularity of YouTube video contests, social media-based programs to get customers involved in brands, and their willingness to our time and money into these pursuits all signals a shift in how brand management needs to be handled today and well into the future. No longer can branding be just focused on the functional, or worse, the utilitarian aspects of a given product. Branding must focus on the emotive aspects of products, underscoring the value of customers interacting with and becoming part of the brand strategy itself. The branding trends today all point to the customer wanting to be increasingly involved in each aspect of the branding mix itself and in effect create the branding experience for themselves. In essence the customer wants to help create the brands they love and are; loyal too; and the precursor of this is how amazingly strong the brand value is for Apple, Harley Davison and Nike are for example.

5) Identify and discuss six reasons why successful brands failed over time in the market place.

He six reasons why successful brands have failed in the marketplace include the following: losing track of the customer and their needs; arrogance of a successful brand making a company complacent; inability of product development to keep pace with market requirements; violating the customers’ trust by not telling the truth about a brand; seeking to create a market based on technology instead of market needs; and reverting back to speaking in the language of the company internally rather than that of the customer.

The cardinal sin of brand failure is losing track of customers and their needs, both from a function and more importantly, from an emotional standpoint as well. Brands die when they forget about customers. Second, success without humility can lead to any brand failing due to complacency and a tendency to assume momentum alone will support future growth. The inability of a product development team to stay in step with customer requirements also will lead to a brand failing, when brands violate the trust of customers by promising more than they can deliver or worse, creating bad products, a brand will quickly fail. The tendency of many technology companies to speak first of their technical prowess instead of customer needs will over time kill a product or if done long enough, a company brand as well. Finally, if a company chooses to speak in their own language internally instead of that of the customer, there will be brand attrition and eventually it will fail. Companies need to always speak in the language of the customer, respecting their needs, to succeed over the long-term.

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