Critical review of brand strategy

Executive Summary

Section 1: Critical Review of "Brand Strategy"

Establish Understanding of "Brand Strategy"

In my home country, India, Shah Rukh Khan, a Leading Indian Celebrity was Brand Ambassador for Pepsi was removed by the Brand. Hence he started endorsing Coca-Cola. What was the Brand Strategy of Pepsi and Coca -cola? Any ordinary person thinks that Shah Rukh Khan left Pepsi as Coca-Cola must have offered him more monetary incentive. Pepsi came with "YOUNGISTAAN" campaign (completely meant for the Youth) and Pepsi felt that Shah Rukh Khan no more represented the YOUTH. He has grown old.

If Coca Cola thought that he could not add to its base customer increase and enhance its brand image, positioning and equity, it would have never hired him. In matters of branding, a personality helps to humanize an otherwise inanimate object or service so that a prospect's defenses are lowered. An attractive brand personality can pre-sell the product /service before the customer, reinforce the purchase decision, and help built an emotional connection that binds the buyer to the brand for a long time.

If we ask what brands do for customers and consumers, one answer (adapted from Randall, 1993) is that they perform five main functions:

  • Identity: the brand must identify itself clearly and unambiguously, so name, legal protection and design elements are important.
  • Shorthand summary: the identity should act as a summary of all the information the consumer holds about the brand. Memory seems to work by storing packets of information in networks, and the brand should provide access to this network, triggering associations.
  • Security: buying a familiar brand should be reassuring. The brand should guarantee to provide the benefits expected.
  • Differentiation: the brand must clearly differentiate itself from its competitors, and show buyers how it is unique.
  • Added value: the brand must offer more than the generic product.

Brands (Google, Starbucks) are created to enrich the customer experience at every touch point[1]. The different touchpoints must create experiences that clients will have when they are dealing with the companies. It is significant for each company to look at every touchpoint in its business and ensure that it maximizes the desired brand experience for its client.

Branding is not necessarily part of sales promotion. In fact sales promotion follows after determining the branding strategy. Clarity about the product is essential to build a brand name for the product; Lexus stands for luxury and may be success achieved by the individual who drives it. Thus we observe at all the 4Ps; Product, Pricing, Promotion and Position. Lexus stands for luxury, it has to be priced, promoted and positioned accordingly to reflect its image. Everything the product must convey a message and impress the consumer.

The luxury clients in the world over are undergoing a parallel transformation in attitudes, interests, brand perceptions and overall psychology. They are driving the shift in the 'top-down ' relationship that has existed for centuries with luxury brands to a bottom-up affiliation where the client has become as important as the product. An additional shift in power is taking place through the emergence of new luxury markets such as China, Russia, India, the Middle East, Brazil and Mexico. We observe that the shift is from Brand Image marketing to Brand Innovation.

The value of any brand asset depends upon whether it has delivered on its past promises and is believed likely to do so in the future. It takes years of effort to build brand trust but only a few months—or minutes—to squander it. A brand that has lost consumer trust is no longer a brand; it is merely a name.

As consumers develop more confidence in a brand's performance, they trust the brand and a relationship grows, thereby reducing the anxiety of selecting and using the brand. In effect the relationship is an added value of the brand. In Cleopatra Veloutsou's paper which focuses on brands of lipsticks, she finds evidence of brand relationship being a multidimensional concept. The first dimension is communication. Marketers should take heed of the fact that consumers are not only willing to receive news about their chosen brand, but will also provide feedback enabling the team to fine tune the relationship. The second dimension is the emotional exchange whereby the sense of closeness comes from the feelings developed with the brand. Given the characteristics of these dimensions, marketers should be better equipped to develop stronger relationships in this market.

The Chinese market is a moving target, and continued change is the only thing a company can count on when planning its brand strategy. Some consumer segments will mature rapidly, especially in the biggest cities, and shoppers could quickly become loyal to specific brands. But as income levels rise across China, a continuing influx of new consumers will be first-time buyers of many products and eager to try new brands.(mck)

If a brand is to thrive over time it could be speculated that the values that form part of its identity would need regular subtle adjustments in order to synchronize continually with consumers' needs.

Although Vodafone has a large subscriber base, a majority of the subscribers are unaware about the range of services that Vodafone is offering. Almost 30 different services of Vodafone were highlighted using the ad campaigns. This new brand ambassador of Vodafone, Zoozoo has created a rage and has been successful in giving the company a makeover and establishing maximum brand presence. Vodafone created many stories featuring the Zoozoos in order to promote its value-added services.

Kapferer (1997) is one of the few academics to have considered brand evolution as values change in society, albeit briefly addressed and done within his identity model.

Regular tracking of environmental changes would result in managers re-evaluating the suitability of their brand's values. Techniques would be instigated for sustaining their brand's core values and appropriate amendments would be made to the peripheral values.

Given the increasingly important role of branding in e-marketing, it is surprising that to date no attempt to measure brand equity has taken into account the internet and its related technologies. Experience with this interactive medium has shown that simply replicating offline marketing effort online is at least inadequate (Meyers and Gerstman 2001). As is well documented, the internet's unique characteristics (cf. Paterson,Balasubramanian and Bronnenberg 1997; Hoffman and Novak 1996) have implications for developing and managing brands (de Chernatony 2001). This does not imply that the principles which have informed brand management for half a century are not relevant today (Porter 2001). A "brand" is a universal concept regardless of setting. What changes online is the enactment of the brand (de Chernatony and Christodoulides 2004). It is therefore postulated that the ways in which brand equity is created online Conceptualizing and Measuring the Equity of Online Brands are different from traditional contexts.

Business strategies and brand strategies are seldom carefully integrated. The brand strategy is usually marginalized in the business plan and brand strategies may also appear as abstract or overtly concerned with details by general managers (Kapferer, 2001). In addition, branding is often seen as the exclusive prerogative of marketing and communication departments, a world view, which may hinder a solid brand strategy and business growth (Kapferer, 2008). As a natural consequence of this incongruence between business and brand strategy, the brand often becomes isolated and reduced to a tactical marketing entity while in reality, it belongs to the realm of strategic management assets (Aaker, 2001). Consider how this incongruence becomes very transparent through the contrasting views in one of Interbrands discussion forums about brand and business strategies:

Kellogg's set up a branch in India and started producing cornflakes to give consumers the real thing. What they didn't realize was that Indians, rather like the Chinese, think that to start the day with something cold—like cold milk on your cereal—is a shock to the system", says Bhabha. "And if you pour warm milk on Kellogg's cornflakes, they instantly turn into wet paper.

A branding strategy is often based on three cornerstones, the brand structure, vision and core values and the brand identity (Aaker, 1996). The brand hierarchy represents the Business and Brand Strategy: A Framework for Integration underlying brand architecture for the firm to work with, some companies manage every business under the corporate brand such as Virgin, often referred to as a branded house, other companies like Yum Brands (fast foods) are organized as holding companies with distinct product brands in a classical house of brands model. Domestic brands such as Indian business conglomerate and car manufacturer Tata are based on a portfolio with distinct product brands. Some of the product Brand vision and core values can help the brand to navigate towards the future. First, the brand vision should articulate something about an intended future.

Sony had a vision for their brand in the 1950s:to change the bad quality image of Japanese products globally. The brand identity can create consistency and be a promise from the organization towards its customers; identity is the association that the company aspires to create and maintain in the marketplace.

Section 2: Analysis of "Twitter"

Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006. It was formerly launched publicly in July 2006. Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to post their latest updates. An update is limited by 140 characters and can be posted through three methods: web form, text message, or instant message. The company has been also adding various features to its base product to enhance user experience and convenience.

I believe Twitter has employed the 4Ps of marketing to create its brand in just 3 years of its existence. It has become a force to reckon with in the Social Web World and is believed to be giving tough competition to its competitors like Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Let us examine how Twitter has increased its Brand Equity in such a short time.

Product: The Twitter product is an online networking site that is simple to use and understand. It helps to achieve the basic purpose of sharing your thoughts and happenings in life. A lot of value is achieved.

Pricing: Twitter being an online service is completely free of charge. Since the structure is simple, very little time is spent on using the service on a daily basis.

Promoting: A list of celebrities has joined Twitter and this has contributed largely to its success and creating brand equity for itself. The customers of Twitter love to see what are happening in the celebrities' life and an emotional link is established. This also sets an impression that since the celebrities have time to tweet so can others.

Positioning: Twitter is an online service through which the gap between the customers and their celebrities has considerably reduced. An emotional and real bond has been established. No online Advertisement has made the service more enriching. The service has provided a strong marketing medium for corporations to reach its consumers without any expense. The corporations have identified Twitter as a medium to understand consumers' needs easily. It has also become a tool to stay updated on the latest happenings in the world.

A brand cannot be created until the company knows its identity and what makes the company and its business remarkable.

Twitter has used the medium or tool of Brand Innovation to create its new brand image. "Obvious Corporation" or previously "Odeo Corporation" was facing a bleak future. A brainstorming session was underway that dealt with the question to seek for an idea to communicate to small groups about one's happenings. It was based on the model of Short Message Service (SMS). Finally, an idea emerged that enabled the creation of social groups through short-form communication. Hence, Twitter was established. Gradually, due to the process simplicity, its process was named as "Tweet" - the term for the 140 maximum character messages posted on Twitter. Thus a differentiator, identity was created which established into a brand in three years and created a media revolution. The evolution of brand twitter proves that if a company does right, it will stand the test of time. However, if the company is unable to implement its brand strategy the company will constantly change and tweak what it has done, which essentially causes the company to start over every time in building brand recognition and value. Companies that get it right not only have loyal followings, but also they have fanatic followings. In this case, with

Brand Innovation

There has been a shift from brand image marketing to brand innovation: more interactive, involving, authentic and dynamic. These two paradigms are not just alternative methods, they are competing views of how brands work.

This development seemed to happen for a number of reasons:

  • It was an advance, the development of new creative approaches.
  • There is a surfeit of old-style messaging and advertising resistance.
  • It was a response to the opportunities to use new media channels.
  • These new channels have also inspired new ideas of what is possible in the old channels.
  • It reflects a shift in who is doing brand marketing, towards media, services, retail.
  • It responded to more dynamic, fast-evolving business strategies.
  • It responded to change and uncertainty in people's lifestyle choices, needing new ideas to live by.

  1. TouchPoint: Touchpoints are the various points in your business that a prospect or a client will encounter when doing business with you

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