Regular readers will know I posted a fairly light-hearted blog about brand marketing and silly car names a little while back. This belies the fact that I detest brand marketing with a passion and would gladly buy unbranded goods every time, if that were an option. Not that I don’t appreciate some, but for the quality of the products, not the intelligence-insulting artifice and mystique created by the marketeers to justify selling the product at five times the justifiable price, and to plant ideas in the heads of wannabes to buy products they don’t need.
A brand is, according to Wikipedia:
“…the personality that identifies a product, service or company (name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them) and how it relates to key constituencies: customers, staff, partners, investors etc.”
“Some people distinguish the psychological aspect, brand associations like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and so on that become linked to the brand, of a brand from the experiential aspect.
“The experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand and is known as the brand experience. The brand experience is a brand’s action perceived by a person. The psychological aspect, sometimes referred to as the brand image, is a symbolic construct created within the minds of people, consisting of all the information and expectations associated with a product, service or the company(ies) providing them.
“People engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique. A brand is therefore one of the most valuable elements in an advertising theme, as it demonstrates what the brand owner is able to offer in the marketplace. The art of creating and maintaining a brand is called brand management. Orientation of the whole organization towards its brand is called brand orientation. The brand orientation is developed in responsiveness to market intelligence.
“Careful brand management seeks to make the product or services relevant to the target audience. Brands should be seen as more than the difference between the actual cost of a product and its selling price – they represent the sum of all valuable qualities of a product to the consumer.
“A brand which is widely known in the marketplace acquires brand recognition. When brand recognition builds up to a point where a brand enjoys a critical mass of positive sentiment in the marketplace, it is said to have achieved brand franchise. Brand recognition is most successful when people can state a brand without being explicitly exposed to the company’s name, but rather through visual signifiers like logos, slogan’s, and colors. For example, Disney has been successful at branding with their particular script font (originally created for Walt Disney’s “signature” logo), which it used in the logo for go.com.”
And in particular:
“Consumers may look on branding as an aspect of products or services, as it often serves to denote a certain attractive quality or characteristic (see also brand promise). From the perspective of brand owners, branded products or services also command higher prices. Where two products resemble each other, but one of the products has no associated branding (such as a generic, store-branded product), people may often select the more expensive branded product on the basis of the quality of the brand or the reputation of the brand owner.”
Here are the key facts:
- Branding is artifice. It creates an image for something that has none, in order to sell product. My view is that the product should sell based on its merits, not on aspirations designed to appeal to a market segment.
- Some branded goods are of higher quality and function, but many are no better than generic goods. Why would you pay £2 for a pack of Anadin when you could pay 40p for a pack of generic aspirins with precisely the same dose of active ingredient?
- Creating a lifestyle image for an otherwise mundane product does not make the product any better or more usable. No amount of whizzy brand awareness will help there.