It is everything that a company's clients perceive to be its business. It is the very thing that provides the connection between company and its clients. A brand is the concept that creates the trust that company's clients give it , and the lasting relationships that result from it.
BRAND = COLLECTIVELY, WHAT PEOPLE SAY, FEEL & THINK ABOUT COMPANY'S PRODUCT, SERVICE OR COMPANY.
WHAT IS BRAND BUILDING ?
The establishment and improvement of a brand's identity, including giving the brand a set of values that the consumer wants, recognizes, identifies with, and trusts. Values developed in the process of brand building include physical and functional properties that consumer desire and should always identify a property that is unique to that brand.
BRAND BUILDING INCLUDES THE FOLOWINGS:
Quality is the identification of a good brand. The consumer's expectation towards a brand's product is that the product of that brand will be of a good quality. These product must be delivered well, consistently. Research confirms that, statistically, higher quality brands can achieve a higher market share and higher profit than their inferior competitors.
Positioning is about the position of a brand occupies in a market and in the minds of consumers. Strong brands have a clear, and unique position in the target market.
Positioning can be achieved through several means, including brand name, image, service standards, product guarantees, packaging and the way in which it is delivered.
Repositioning occurs when a brand tries to change its market position to reflect a change in consumer's tastes. This is often required when a brand has become tired, perhaps because its original market has gone into decline. For exp. Change in consumer's tastes.
Communications also play a key role in building of a successful brand. Whenever a company do not communicate about its brand with its target customers how a brand can build an image in customers minds. With the help of communication a company can change the perception of customers towards its brand.
Business strategists often talk about the first-mover advantages.
It means that it is possible for the first successful brand in a market to create a clear positioning in the minds of target customers before the competition enters into the market. However, being first into a market does not give any guarantee of long-term success. Competitors can earns more profit by copy the best elements of the leader's brand.
This leads to an another important factor of brand-building: the need to invest in the brand over the long-term. Building customer awareness, communicating the brand's message and creating customer loyalty takes much time. This means that company must "invest" in brand, perhaps at the expense of short-term profitability.
Finally, company should ensure that the brand is marketed "internally" as well as externally. It means that the whole business should understand the brand values and positioning. This is particularly important in service businesses where a part of the brand value is the type and quality of service that a customer receives.
The Importance of Branding
One of the truths of modern business is that there is almost nothing that the competitors can't duplicate in a matter of weeks or months. If the company have a great idea, then it can be certain that somebody will copy it before long and also will be able to sell the product at lower cost.
"A brand is the one thing that company can own that nobody can take away from company."
Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small. An effective brand strategy gives company a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. Branding is a way by which company make promise to give best products to its customers. It tells customers what they can expect from company's products and services, and it also differentiates the company's product from its competitor's product.
The foundation of company's brand is its logo. Company's website, packaging and promotional materials are the way to communicate company's brand.
What Goes Into a Brand?
If company's product or service is new or unique, the task of branding is made easier. Since there are no pre-existing biases toward the product or service, it will be easy to manipulate customer attitudes.
Brand identity is comprised of:
- Pricing - It is the thinking of the customers that only that product has good quality which price is higher in the market and low price means low quality of product.
- Distribution - Limited distribution of a product or service may imply exclusivity to discerning consumers.
- Quality - Obviously, higher quality will translate to more satisfied customers who come back again and again to purchase Company's products.
- Presence - Products or services with a high-profile market presence will lead to brand recognition and increased sales.
- Awareness - The higher Company offering's awareness, Can help in the better sales results for company.
- Reputation - Enduring public opinion of brand character, which is built over time and difficult to change once established.
- Image - An image of brand can be set in the customer's mind by providing them good quality. Like reputation, image is difficult to change once established.
- Benefits - consumers may equate certain positive and negative points with use of company's product or service; these may be warranted or unwarranted.
- Positioning salience - Differentiation from the competition, which is established by a combination of all elements of the brand.
- Preference - A predisposition to buy displayed by consumers who are establishing brand loyalty.
- Share of market - Increased market share is a direct result of a successful branding campaign.
- Customer commitment - Loyalty is built through long-term branding and close consumer contact.
"The software company includes businesses involved in the development, maintenance and publication of computer software using any business model. The company also includes software services, such as training, documentation, and consulting."
HISTORY OF SOFTWARE COMPANIES:-
The software industry started in the early 1960s, almost immediately after computers ('mainframes') were first sold in a more or less standardized way. Universities and businesses began to use these computers and to seek out programs to do certain computing tasks. Many of these programs were written in-house by full-time staff programmers. Some were distributed freely between users of a particular machine for no charge. But others were done on a commercial basis, and the very first standalone software firms started in the United States in 1959-1960. Pretty soon, the computer-makers started bundling operating systems software and programming environments with their machines. IBM, which delivered most of the computers at the time, became a household name in corporate businesses worldwide.
The industry expanded greatly with the rise of the personal computer in the mid-1970s, which brought computing to the desktop of the office worker. DOS, Microsoft's first product, was the dominant operating system at the time.
Microsoft Corporation is a software company based in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft's flagship product, the Windows operating system, is the single most popular operating system for home desktop use. Its other desktop products, namely Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player, are either bundled directly with the Windows operating system, or are often sold together with Windows as preinstalled software on new computer systems. Additionally, the company manufactures and sells computer hardware such as keyboards and mice, the MSN Internet portal, and the Microsoft Encarta electronic encyclopedia.
Microsoft's popular Internet Explorer web browser was originally a rebranded version of Spyglass Mosaic. Microsoft products have traditionally been plagued with security problems, leading to an entire malicious software industry today. Although all major operating systems and computer programs have been subject to attack at one time or another, Microsoft's latency at resolving issues, and the simple number of them, has tarnished the company's image.
AS THE MANAGER OF MICROSOFT CORPORATION THE STRETAGIES ADOPTED BY ME (MANAGER) FOR COMPANY'S BRAND BUILDING IN INDIA:-
Brand strategy is about understanding the behavior of business and improving on it. Brand strategy is neither branding nor brand alone. It is neither marketing, nor strategic development but rather the development of a clear set of plans and actions, governed by a single stated direction. The plans and actions allow a business to improve its competitiveness, and boost its position and reputation in the marketplace.
The first strategy adopted by me as a manager of Microsoft company for its brand building is Line Branding. This Strategy is of the type 'One brand many products'. Sometimes a brand is launched with a distinct concept e.g. Microsoft ("ALL COMPUTERS SOFTWARES"). The brand appeals to a distinct market segment who appreciate and like the brand concept. The core idea is that the brand connects with the consumer group. Now the customers do not tend to be content with the one product, which the brand offers. Rather they want additional product which go hand in hand with the brand concept or application.
Line branding strategy illustrates how well cultivated brand can be extended on to a host of related products under a common concept. This strategy seeks to penetrate the customer rather than penetrating the market. It seeks to fulfill all complementary needs that surround a basic need. Line brands start with a product but later extend too a whole range of complementary products. The products in the line draw their identity from the main brand. Marketing products as a line enhances the brand's marketing power rather than selling them as an individual brand.
If the Microsoft company has a sound financial position then as a manager of Microsoft company I would adopt the product branding strategy because this strategy is very costly on the other hand the advantages coming from this strategy are very much. In this product branding strategy the brand is promoted exclusively so that it acquires its own identity and image. This way the brand is able to acquire a distinct position in the customer's mind. The thrust is on making the brand acquire its 'own' set of associations and stand on its own. Product branding allows a brand achieve exclusivity and differentiation.
It does not share other products and does not take on company associations. The company's name takes a backseat and the product does not get benefits from the company name. The greatest advantage in this case is that a brand can be targeted accurately to a distinct target market or customers because its positioning can be precise unambiguous. Customers connect easily with product brands since what the brand represents tends to be clear.
Another advantage is that with an identifiable brand uniquely positioned and directed at a segment, the firm is able to cover an entire market spectrum by making multiple brand entries. So for the benefit of Microsoft company I would adopt this strategy as well.
This strategy is adopted by managers for introducing new products to the marketplace, under the 'One brand all products' type of brand strategies. This strategy helps in brand building in a new market segment. Brand extensions come in two primary forms: horizontal and vertical. In a horizontal brand extension situation, an existing brand name is applied to a new product introduction in either a related product class, or in a product category completely new to the firm. A vertical brand extension, on the other hand, involves introducing a brand extension. In the same product category as the core brand, but at a different price point and quality level. With the help of Brand Extension a company can change the consumer's mind for acceptance its products. So, it is a useful strategy for Brand Building.
This again is of the type 'One brand all products'. An umbrella brand is a parent brand that appears on a number of products that may each have separate brand images. consumers can only observe quality ex post. Like Microsoft Computer's Windows, Microsoft Office, and many other software.
Investing in a single brand is less costly for the company than trying to build a number of brands in the market. Using the umbrella branding to enter into new markets the manager of the company can tell the advantages of brand to the consumers and establish the brand image in the market. Considering these factors it can be said that umbrella branding is a superior strategy when there is a significant overlap between the set of buyers of each of the firm's products. The main danger associated with umbrella branding is that since many products share the common name, a debacle in one product category may influence the products because of shared identity. So, I (manager) would also adopt this strategy for brand building in new market.
Endorsement branding makes the product brand name more significant and corporate brand name is relegated to a lesser status. The umbrella brand is made to play an indirect role of passing on certain common generic associations. It is only mentioned as an endorsement to the product brand. By and large, the brand seeks to stand on its own. The brand gets the endorsement that it belongs to specified company.
Computer window gives the signal that it belongs to Microsoft company.
Though these brands enjoy their unique image, somewhere in the image the makers association is also a part. Endorsement branding strikes a balance between umbrella and product branding. So, this is also a very useful strategy.
SOME OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS WHICH I (MANAGER) CAN USE FOR BRAND BUILDING:-
- Get a great logo:- Place it everywhere on the product.
- Write down company's brand messaging:- What are the key messages company want to communicate about its brand? Every employee should be aware of company's brand attributes.
- Integrate company's brand:- Branding extends to every aspect of company business- how company's salespeople answer customer's phones, company's e-mail signature, everything.
- Create a "voice" for company that reflects company's brand:- This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is company brand friendly ? Be conversational.
- Develop a tagline:- Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of company's brand.
- Be true to your brand:- Customers won't return to me--or refer me to someone else--if I (manager) don't deliver on my company's brand promise.
- Be consistent:- I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important point I can adopt. If I can't do this, my attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
HOW CAN I (MANAGER) ATTRACT THE NEW CUSTOMERS:-
- Provide the product on trail basis:- I (Manager) can give my company's products (software) to new consumers on trail basis(free). Once the consumer like your product then after they will actually purchase your company's product (software).
- Public speaking:- Manager can join with business group organizations and get them to invite you to speak at one of their meetings. Try and tie your product or service into global or national trends and promote your speech as a way that their audience can prevent the most common pitfalls that most companies face.
- Establish relationships with reporters:- Find out which reporters cover your industry and call them up to introduce yourself and ask them how you can help them. All reporters are looking for reliable sources that do not come across as purely self-promoters. All national association events will have reporters assigned by industry magazines. Call the event sponsor and get the names of the media that will be at the event. Contact the reporters that will be covering the next national industry event and ask how you can help give them an angle that is interesting to their readers. By all this the customers will know about company's products.
- Advertisement:- In present days no company can sale its product in the market without giving any kind of advertising. So, a manager can give his company's product advertisement in T.V., RADIO, NEWSPAPER, INTERNET etc. for establish his product in customers mind.
- Relationship:- A manager should maintain healthy relationships with his existing customers. He should put some effort into keeping customers happy and impressed by his product and service. This can effect on making new customers.
- Start A Free-To-Join Club:- Having people join your club is a creative way to attract new customers. People want to belong to something, why not company's online club. The club should be related to company's product or service. Manager could give away a free e-mail newsletter for club members only . Have a members only message board, e-mail discussion group or chat room. Post your advertisements on all the club information.
- Sponsor Contests:- Send out a fax or letter asking prospects to sign up to win something. It should be a considerable prize and some thing that is useful. Why wait for the annual expo to attract visitors to company's booth. Get them involved at all times of the year. Get them to go to company's web site. Promote the contest to the media and industry experts. Keep all entries and get them on company's mailing list.
POINTS WHICH I (MANAGER) CAN USE FOR BUILDING CUSTOMERS LOYALTY:-
- Communicate:- Communication is the best way to keep in touch with the customers. Whether it is an email newsletter, monthly flier, a reminder card for a tune up, or a holiday greeting card, reach out to company's steady customers.
- Customer Service:- Provide company's customers best service. Go the extra distance and meet customer needs. Train the staff to do the same. Customers remember being treated well.
- Employee Loyalty:- Loyalty works from the top to down. If manager are loyal to its employees, they will feel positively about their jobs and pass that loyalty along to company's customers.
- Employee Training:- Train employees in the manner that manager want them to interact with customers.
Empower employees to make decisions that benefit the customer.
- Customer Incentives:- Give customers a reason to return to your company's business. Provide your regular customers some kind of incentives which can help company in building customer loyalty.
- Product Awareness:- Keep in stock that products every time which your regular customers buy regularly. If once your customer not get any product from you they will automatically shifts to your competitor.
- Reliability:- If your customer wants to purchase something, its your (manager's) duty to deliver that product to company's customer on that day (on which the order placed) only. Be reliable. If something goes wrong, let customers know immediately and compensate them for their inconvenience.
- Be Flexible:- Try to solve customer problems or complaints to the best of your ability. Don't give any kind of excuses to customers.
- Know Their Names:- Get to know the names of regular customers or at least recognize their faces.
After study the all above we can say that the manager has to do many thing for entering into a new country's market. He has to adopt branding strategy like (line branding, product branding, umbrella branding, endorsement branding etc.) The most important work for a manager is to build his company's brand image in the minds of people. Creating band image is most difficult thing, doing this a manager has to give advertisement, provide customers the best service, create best relationship with the reporters as well as customers, create the habit of using company's product in customers by giving them samples (software on trail basis) etc. The most important work for a manager is to satisfied his customers. If a manager is not able to satisfied his customers then there is no value of brand building. If a person became the customer of the company then its manager's responsibility to convert that person into regular customer (building customer loyalty). Manager has to know about his new customers as well as regular customers wants. While entering into a new market a manager has to face many problems like competition, habits or wants of the people in that country etc. sometimes government create some problems also. So, entering into a new country is very difficult work for manager as well as company also.
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