The Branding Matrix by Uche Nworah

Branding is the marketing and management process that gives a product, service, organization or personality a unique identity and image such that it is easily and positively identifiable and distinct from the competition. Branding therefore is not just a marketing activity but a continuous and planned process that involves every part of the organization, this is because product, organizational and service promises needs to be fulfilled and matched by performance by all staff and designated spokespersons that have contacts with the external publics and stakeholders, any negative action could impact on the public perception of the brand.

An example is David Beckham, the England and Real Madrid footballer that fronts for Pepsi and Adidas, His wife (Victoria aka Posh spice)who equally lives a high profile lifestyle was photographed sometime ago clutching a can of coke while their son Brooklyn was caught on camera wearing Nike trainers, a rival brand. These actions may seem harmless but is embarrassing to the companies that pay Beckham millions of pounds to front their brands, such ‘slip ups' are not value for money for Beckham's sponsors. It is indeed surprising that African companies, especially Nigerian firms have not fully exploited the fame of some of our footballers by featuring them in their advertising campaigns, in a coordinated and well managed/organized manner, rather than the usual one-off commercials these firms sign them for, players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo (in his good Arsenal FC days) are examples of wasted advertising and brand building opportunities.

The Brand is made up of the ‘finished product' or service that the consumers buy, feel or experience; it is the tangible and intangible (image and experience) aspects of the product or service. A brand name however is a symbol of differentiation such as Zenith bank, GTB, MTN, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Burger King, Guinness, NEWVIC, Oxford, Pepsi, Virgin, Sheraton, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ovation, T-Mobile and BEVISTA etc. These symbols can be expressed in many different ways such as by brand names, logo, colour, values, customer service levels, price, packaging etc.

THE WHY? AND HOW? OF BRANDING.

There are still un-branded products and services available today in the market that are sold in their original generic forms, however such products and services are available only on a small scale and limited to particular local areas or markets, the sellers or service providers have no long term growth plans and are often seen to be offering services of a personal nature to their customers. In the wider and increasingly globalized markets, Branding and strong brands can make the difference between corporate growth and demise. Organizations therefore actively and effectively seek to build and enhance the image of their brands for the following reasons:

Information overload in the media especially the large amount of commercial messages in the media that audiences and customers are exposed to. This then provides a need for uniqueness and differentiation.

Products and brands proliferation, brands therefore have to be ‘strong' and ‘tall' to be seen and heard.

Decreasing product and service differentiation as a result of almost equal access to technology and research, companies now have equal access to resources and have sometimes introduced taste-alike, look-alike and sound-alike products to the markets, the much desired differentiation can only be done through branding.

The need and desire by companies to be brand leaders in the market, this is expected to transform into increased customer purchases and ultimately bigger profits and higher returns – on – investments (ROI). Researches have shown that customers tend to prefer bigger and better known brands (bandwagon effect).

THE ROLE OF THE BRAND

A strong brand will provide a reassurance that can have an enormous impact when a buyer has to choose between two objectively fairly similar offers, for example in Nigeria, MTN has capitalized on its brand image, carried over from its successful operations in other African countries to be the leading GSM service provider.

A strong brand in a market sector creates barriers to entry as the huge costs of entering the market and competing successfully is discouraging e.g. Microsoft and its market dominance in the Software industry has created a huge barrier for other software companies.

A well-established and correctly built brand will easily communicate a distinct set of values such as trustworthiness, reliability etc much quicker and more effectively than any expensive commercial message, Today people still associate German made products with quality and durability hence two of their famous exports Mercedes and BMW do not require such huge advertising budgets unlike the Japanese models; Honda, Kia and Hyundai.

Strong brands give the employees confidence and sense of pride, people like to work for companies such as IBM, Accenture and particularly for Shell, First Bank, MTN, Nigerian Breweries, and Cadbury in Nigeria.

Brands represent continuity which is important in the sense of winning and managing customer relationship, brands are often much older than the companies that own them and some have been handed down from one generation to the next.

BRAND NAMES

Name is part of but not all there is to a brand. Brand names are no longer just a way of identifying and differentiating one brand from another, they are also used as communicators of distinct values particular to the brand.

Names could be purely imaginative such as Kodak or formed from the names of towns where the manufacturers are located e.g. BMW (Bayerische Motor Werke), 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co.), it could also be originated from the manufacturing ingredients e.g. Coca-Cola, a combination of coca leaf and the kola nut.

There are also other sources of getting suitable brand names, ranging from the name of the company founders – Lever Brothers, John Holt, the names of towns and places e.g. Embassy cigarettes to brand names devised to capitalize on specific values e.g. Flora vegetable magarine, pampers nappies, Holiday Inn hotels etc.

With the increasing influence of pop culture and the mass media in our daily lives, names of certain individuals and celebrities have now achieved brand status; the most notable among the lot are Madonna, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan and David Beckham. While David Beckham may not be the best footballer in England, he is certainly the most famous and also has the most earning potential, a combination of factors such as a good brand building and management team, occasional brilliance in the football field, his marriage to Victoria, also known as posh spice as well as a lavish flamboyant lifestyle made more intriguing by rumours of infidelity have raised his profile highly to brand and iconic status. For a name to achieve brand status, it has to fulfill certain criteria such as:
Carry distinct values.Differentiates.Is appealing.Has a clear identity.

A Brand strategy that runs through the entire organization and translated into the key elements of experience, quality, identity and communication are highly essential in building competitive brands, these elements form the brand building model as represented in this matrix.

THE BRAND BUILDING MATRIX
· EXPERIENCECustomer perceptionsCustomer serviceActions of sales & delivery people etc.Brand evolution over the years, changes to any aspect of the brand must reflect the changing market demands · QUALITYTastes & levels of serviceIngredients & raw materials used etc.Product/service durabilityGuarantees and warranteesCutting edge technology
· IDENTITYStrong & visible Memorable namesLogos & coloursSponsorshipsPackaging etc.Shelf position & displayVehicle displays and brandingCorporate uniforms· COMMUNICATION
PR & Advertising strategiesQuality letterheads & writing materials.Internet presenceNews Releases, sponsored press articles etc.Other verbal and non-verbal means used in communicating with stakeholders.



BRAND TERMINOLOGY.

PRIMARY BRAND
: A brand leader, strong in the market place and generally regarded as the ‘bench-mark' brand, has high customer awareness and is usually a ‘must stock' item for retailers e.g. coca-cola (FMCG). There could be more than one brand from competing companies occupying this position e.g. Persil/Omo/Ariel.

SECONDARY BRAND: Positioned as number two, three or four in a market sector, usually a brand customers would choose not as a pro-active choice but as a result of the original choice not being available or being too expensive. In Europe most Asian made cars such as Kia and Daewoo would fall under this category.

TERTIARY BRAND: This is not present in all markets and usually sells at a heavy discount to the brand leader by up to 25-30%. It is also of average quality and without much brand profile.

CHANNEL BRANDS: A brand policy of manufacturing specific brands for each main channel of distribution, this strategy is usually adopted in electrical household goods where a company might use one brand for discount stores and another for the more upmarket retailers.

OWN BRANDS: The strategy whereby retailers manufacture their own branded goods to compete with the more established brands in the same shops, Tesco, Kwiksave and Sainsbury's supermarkets in the U.K all have own brands, also known as O/L – own labels or P/L- private labels.

CO-BRANDING: Certain brands are compatible and are therefore jointly marketed together by the manufacturers, one brand could endorse the contents of the main brand e.g. BOSCH washing machine endorsing Calgonit washing powder, this strategy could be also expressed in form of co-operative advertising or dual branding e.g. NATWEST VISA card, Barclaycard Visa etc. The host brand gets the benefit of the endorsement of a well-known brand and both brands benefit by the co-branded product having greater perceived value.
FIGHTING BRAND: A mercenary way of marketing whereby the brand is sold at a discount of over 30% of the market leader, the brand receives no Marketing support and sells only on the price platform, it has a different or ‘diluted' formula to the main brand and this difference is highlighted in the product information on the pack. A fighting brand is usually introduced in order to protect the main brand when attacked by low-priced alternatives.

It is usually a short-term strategy and the brand is quickly withdrawn as soon as the primary brand's position is stabilized.

BRAND STRETCHING/EXTENSION: This is the process whereby established brands are used in other products or service areas that may or not be similar to the original brand's market segment. Examples are the Virgin brand, which has stretched into airlines, radio, beverages, finance etc. Also the Easy group whose other Easy divisions include Easyjet, EasyMoney, Easyinternet, EasyCar, EasyCinema etc.

BRAND IMAGE: The actual and current image of the brand as perceived by the customers and other publics, this is different from the WISH IMAGE which is the perception the company has and thinks the customers have of the brand, the wish image is deceptive and does not represent a true Image of the brand, which could be discovered through a brand audit.

BRAND LOYALTY: This means that a customer is loyal to a particular brand and will buy it on a regular basis, preferring it to other competing brands.

BRAND AWARENESS: The level of promotional support a brand receives determines the brand awareness; it means that the customers are able to identify a particular brand and its characteristics as opposed to competing brands.


Uche Nworah
Lecturer of Business
Newham Sixth Form College
Prince Regent Lane, E13 8SG
London, United Kingdom
unworah@newvic.ac.uk uchenworah@yahoo.com


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