Friday, 14 January 2011 04:26

Brand Management Over Time

I believe we all agree that the marketing environment has been evolving and changing. This situation will continue, and usually in very significant ways. Changes in consumer behavior, innovative technology, government regulations, competitive environment and the firm's own strategies can greatly affect a brand's image, meaning, and other aspects of a brand's equity. The challenge of effective brand management lies in the proactive strategies to at least maintain, if not enhance your brand's value. FiG will spend the next 2 weeks discussing some brand strategies to reinforce brand meaning and adjustments to marketing programs to identify new sources of brand equity.

Reinforce Brand Meaning-Use marketing actions that consistently convey the meaning of the brand to consumers in terms of awareness and image"

First you need to know the long-term effects of marketing activities on your brand equity. Consumers develop their knowledge towards your brand from responses to marketing activities. They hear your brand's name on the radio, see your products on web searches, and read news and reports about your company in magazines and newspapers. Today they have millions of channels in which to know you, understand you, and develop a personal feeling towards you.  You feel this in sales trends, interaction with you through customer service, and talking with friends about you on Facebook or Twitter. One sentence: Consumers change their brand knowledge by responding to past, current and future marketing activities.

Therefore, it is of great importance for a company to have long-term marketing strategies that constantly reinforce brand. While doing so, one of the most essential considerations is the consistency in the nature and amount of marketing support the brand receives. Kevin Lane Keller, the notable author of Strategic Brand Management, once said: "Brands with shrinking research and development and marketing communication budgets run the risk of becoming technologically disadvantaged-or even obsolete-as well as out-of-date, irrelevant, or forgotten."

Brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney, and others have been remarkably consistent in their strategies once they achieved a preeminent market leadership position. But being consistent doesn't mean avoiding any changes. On the contrary, necessary innovative changes and tactical shifts in sync with the nature of the changing market will help a brand maintain strategic trust and the right direction. These changes include pricing adjustment, improvement of product features, creative slogans, and other tactical shifts. Although the specific tactics can change, marketers should retain and develop the key elements of equity for a brand where appropriate.

  • Successful Example-Burberry, a British high-end brand remains in the fashion world with the consistency of its iconic imagery (trench coat and Prorsum horse insignia), but has made changes from an expensive raincoat designer to a contemporary and traditional fashion designer.

  • Failed Example-GM, once the global automotive leader, lost its individual brand image because of inconsistent marketing activities. Although they had many brands, many of these brands both looked alike and functioned the same, which forced them to spend separate marketing efforts marketing cars that were for all intents and purposes identical. The biggest and only objective of GM was to increase sales numbers through brute-force promotion rather than cashing in on brand equity.

What happened to GM is a lesson to all marketers no matter how big and powerful they are. "Reinforcing brand equity over time requires consistency in the amount and nature of the supporting marketing program for the brand."--Kevin Lane Keller

A successful brand has to stand for something. When you attach variations/adjustments under a brand make sure the core brand image is untouched. You cannot do all things to all people and the more you try the more you risk sinking the ship. Focus on your branding efforts on your target market.