10 Essential Attributes of a Successful Brand

A successful brand has several essential attributes. The presence of most of these attributes can guarantee long term eminence of the brand.

The world’s strongest brands have the following attributes:

i. The brand provides the benefits that customer’s desire. Customers buy a brand because its attributes, its image, its service and many other tangible and intangible factors create an attractive whole. Sometimes customers cannot even verbalize what they actually want.

Successful Brand

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They feel the brand is just right for them. Starbucks gives a complete experience to the customers through the aroma of the beans, the rich taste of the coffee, the product displays, the attractive artwork on the walls, the contemporary music playing in the background and the cozy, clean feel of the table.

ii. The brand stays relevant. Brand equity is tied to both the actual quality of the product or service and to various intangible factors.

Those intangibles include the imagery related to the type of person who uses the brand, to the type of situations in which the brand is used, to the type of personality the brand portrays (sincere, exciting, competent, rugged), to the type of feeling the brand tries to elicit in customers (purposeful, warm) and to the type of relationship it seeks to build with its customers (committed, casual, seasonal).

Strong brands stay on the leading edge in the product arena and tweak their intangibles to fit their times. Gillette always employs superior technology and its long-raining ads, ‘The best a man can get’ are tweaked to reflect contemporary times.

Besides advertising, customers’ perceptions of a company as a whole and its role in the society affect a brand’s strength as well. Their advocating some social cause helps.

iii. The pricing strategy is based on consumers’ perception of value. The company has to arrive at the right blend of product quality, design, features and price. Value pricing should not be adopted at the expense of essential brand-building activities.

There is nothing intrinsically right or wrong with low or high price. Whatever price the company decides to charge, it should be able to demonstrate that customers are deriving value from it in proportion to the price they are paying.

iv. The brand is properly positioned. Successful brands keep up with competitors by creating points of parity in those areas where competitors are trying to find an advantage, while at the same time creating points of difference to achieve advantages over competitors in some other areas.

They are similar to and also different from competing brands in certain reliably identifiable ways. Sony holds clear advantages in product superiority and matching competitors’ level of prices.

The task is much more difficult when a brand spans many product categories. The mix of points of parity and points of difference that works for a brand in one category may not be right for the same brand in another category.

v. The brand is consistent. Maintaining a strong brand means striking the right balance between continuity in marketing activities and the kind of changes needed to stay relevant. The brand’s image should not get muddled by a spate of marketing efforts that confuse customers by sending conflicting messages.

vi. The brand portfolio and hierarchy should make sense. Companies create and maintain different brands for different market segments. Single product lines are often sold under different brand names, and different brand names within a company hold different powers. Each brand should have a distinct image and its own source of equity.

Brands at each level of the hierarchy should contribute to the overall equity of the portfolio through their individual ability to make consumers aware of the various products and foster favourable associations with them. Each brand should have its own boundaries. It is dangerous to cover too much ground with one brand or to overlap two brands in the same portfolio.

vii. The brand makes use of and coordinates a full repertoire of marketing activities to build equity. Strong brands mix and match trademarked marketing elements like logos, symbols and signage to perform brand related functions like enhancing or reinforcing consumer awareness of the brand or its image and to protect the brand both competitively and legally.

Marketing activities play specific roles in building brand equity. Advertising is used to create consumer demand for a given product. Trade promotions are designed to push products through distribution. A brand should make use of all its resources and should ensure that the essence of the brand is the same in all its activities.

viii. Brand managers understand what the brand means to consumers. Managers of strong brands understand the totality of their brand’s image, i.e., perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour customers associate with their brand. If it is clear what customers like and do not like about a brand, and what core associations are linked to the brand, then it will be clear whether any given action will synchronize with the brand or it will create friction.

Bic was very successful with its non-refillable ball-point pens, disposable cigarette lighters and disposable razors, but when it used the same strategy for marketing perfumes, the effort was unsuccessful.

Bic had developed a utilitarian and impersonal image with its earlier offers. But this image did not gel with marketing of perfumes which is tied to customers’ emotions.

In contrast Gillette has been protective of the name carried by its razors, blades and associated toiletries. The company’s electric razors use the Braun name and its oral care products are marketed under the Oral В name.

ix. The brand is given proper support and that support is sustained over the long run. A firm foundation for brand equity requires that customers have the proper depth and breadth of awareness and strong, favourable and unique associations with the brand in their memory.

Brand managers should not resort to shortcuts and should follow all the brand building exercises starting from those which will achieve the necessary level of brand awareness to those which will build an image of the brand.

It is also necessary that there is no complacency once the brand has become strong. The company should maintain a level of brand building activities, especially a decent level of advertising, for all times.

x. The company monitors various sources of brand equity. A company should periodically conduct audit of its brands. A brand audit is an exercise designed to assess the health of its brand.

It consists of detailed internal description of exactly how the brand has been marketed and a thorough external investigation, through focus groups and other consumer research, of exactly what the brand does and could mean to consumers.

Finding out customers’ perceptions and beliefs uncovers the true meaning of a brand and reveals where corporate and consumer views conflict. It shows the company where they have to refine or redirect their branding efforts.

Building a strong brand involves maximizing all these characteristics. But in practice it is difficult, because in many cases when a company focuses on improving one, others may suffer. The idea should be to know the brand’s performance on all the attributes and then to evaluate any marketing activity from all possible perspectives.

Submitted by : Professor Lucas, Category : Brand Management, Tag : Brands