A brand refers to any symbol, text, image etc. that is used to give an identity to a product (A product can include a good, service, person, idea etc.). The part of the brand that is registered is known as a Trademark.
Branding is considered to be a crucial management function and forms a part of the Product Mix under the various Ps of marketing. However, what's interesting to note is the evolution of branding from an add-on function to a source sustainable competitive advantage. Companies have now awakened to the power of effective brand positioning.
Branding has been targeted at achieving the following objectives:
A brand is to a product what an Adhaar card is to you i.e. a legitimate valid ID proof. It enables the product to carve an identification amongst the clutter and create a recognition for itself. Whenever you see the letter M on the hoardings on the road, you know McDonald's is round the corner. The brand has become an identity for McDonalds.
A strong brand distinguishes a product from it's competitors. It enables a customer to choose his/her preferred brand from the available alternatives. Customers distinguish the pizza and garlic bread at Pizza Hut from the pizza and garlic bread at Domino's as these are two different brands.
A lot of times brands are used for perceived differentiation i.e. where customers perceive two products to be different as they are offered by different brands without there being any major difference in the offerings. A classic example of this is Pepsi vs. Coca Cola.
Testifies Company Values
A brand is an identification for the company and it's product. It bears testament to the company values and what it stands for. The brand TATA has become synonymous with the company values of integrity and honesty and is one of the most loved and trusted brands of the country.
Once a brand becomes successful, a company launches new product under the same brand to capitalize on the brand equity. As a result, a company floats a portfolio of different products in the market under the same brand. This is known as Umbrella Branding. Maggi is one of the most powerful umbrella brands. Nestle has launched different products such as noodles, pasta, ketchups, masala etc. under the same brand i.e. Maggi.
Successful branding leads to unprecedented customer loyalty. It creates a pool of customers that are not just loyalists but march a step further by becoming brand advocates. Customers tend to develop an emotional connect with the brand. This leads to repeat purchases and referrals fulfilling the twin objectives of customer retention as well as customer acquisition.
Apple has successfully positioned itself as a cult brand and has a dedicated pool of loyal customers and advocates. The frenzy surrounding the launch of every latest model of iPhone bears testimony to this.
The true success of a brand is reflected by it's competency to position itself as a product in the minds of the customer. There are a few brands that have effortlessly entered the customer parlance with such finesse that they have become synonymous with the product. Infact the customer has forgotten the actual product altogether.
Some of these brands (actual products) are as follows:
Google (Search engine)
Jacuzzi (Hot tub)
Photoshop (Image editing)
Oyo (Hotel room)
Sellotape (Transparent adhesive tape)
Thermos (Vacuum flask)
Marketers today are striving to up their branding game in order to outdo their competitors. A lot of deliberation goes into selecting the most apt brand ambassador. A brand ambassador whose persona is aligned with the brand values can catapult the brand success tremendously. For instance, Manyavar roped in the-most happening couple Virat and Anushka (amidst speculations of them being hitched) for their wedding collection. The campaign was super successful with memes floating on social media describing the campaign as their pre-wedding shoot. Infact they came out with a sequel for the campaign an year later with a sartorial take on 'shadi ke side effects'.
Strong brand positioning has enabled marketers to generate and reap the benefits of brand equity which is strategically leveraged to establish a competitive edge in the market. With competition becoming more intense and fierce than ever, successful brand positioning can go a long way in winning customers and their hearts!