Too often, managers want to take shortcuts and bypass more basic branding considerationssuch as achieving the necessary level of brand awarenessin favor of concentrating on flashier aspects of brand building related to image. Are you sure that your marketing programs are not sending conflicting messages and that they havent done so over time? Relevance has a deeper, broader meaning in todays market. Constructing similar report cards for your competitors can give you a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. Have you chosen or designed your brand name, logo, symbol, slogan, packaging, signage, and so forth to maximize brand awareness? Its not just a cup of coffee. Brands at each level of the hierarchy contribute to the overall equity of the portfolio through their individual ability to make consumers aware of the various products and foster favorable associations with them. Oldsmobile is the brand for larger, medium-priced cars. By contrast, with its well-known shift to an everyday low pricing (EDLP) strategy, Procter & Gamble did successfully align its prices with consumer perceptions of its products value while maintaining acceptable profit levels. Its critical for managers holding the reins of a brand portfolio to get a clear picture of the products and services being offered and how they are being marketed and branded. Will stepping outside its definition of premium change the brand in the minds of its target customers? Its also important to see how that same picture looks to customers. The brand is always the hero in Coca-Cola advertising. The result?
And that is, clearly, a worthy goal. Keller recommends assessing your brand on the following attributes: Building and properly managing brand equity has become a priority for companies of all sizes, in all types of industries, in all types of markets. If consumers reacted so negatively to associating Disney with a strong brand like Tide, imagine how they reacted when they saw the hundreds of other Disney-licensed products and joint promotions. General Motors, by contrast, still struggles with its brand portfolio and hierarchy. A version of this article appeared in the. Are you aware of all the marketing activities that involve your brand? ___ The brand portfolio and hierarchy make sense. The brand no longer enjoys the same special status in the eyes of consumers, who now view it as similar to other oil companies. Are the people managing each activity aware of one another? Its market share shriveled. The companys startling success is evident: The average Starbucks customer visits a store 18 times a month and spends $3.50 a visit. The rewards of having a strong brand are clear. They were displayed in plastic packages on racks at checkout counters throughout Bics extensive distribution channels, which included 100,000 or so drugstores, supermarkets, and other mass merchandisers. First, as part of the brand inventory, managers compiled a list of all available Disney products (manufactured by the company and licensed) and all third-party promotions (complete with point-of-purchase displays and relevant merchandising) in stores worldwide. Buick is the premium, near luxury brand. Conversely, do the brands maximize market coverage? From the Magazine (JanuaryFebruary 2000), HBRs 10 Must Reads on Strategic Marketing. As an outsider, you may know more about how their brands are received in the marketplace than they do. Consider Levi-Strauss. The trick is to get a handle on how a brand performs on all ten attributes and then to evaluate any move from all possible perspectives. They are similar to and different from competing brands in certain reliably identifiable ways. After all, from strong brand equity flow customer loyalty and profits. Similarly, instituting an effective brand-equity-measurement system can help clarify a brands meaning, capture consumers reactions to pricing changes and other strategic shifts, and monitor the brands ability to stay relevant to consumers through innovation. Consumers were even upset when Disney characters were linked to well-regarded premium brands like Tide laundry detergent. With the current market conditions? And because of the characters broad exposure in the marketplace, many consumers had begun to feel that Disney was exploiting its name. Rate your brand on a scale of one to ten (one being extremely poor and ten being extremely good) for each characteristic below.
They also include direct response (the Coca-Cola catalog, which sells licensed Coke merchandise) and interactive media (the companys Web site, which offers, among other things, games, a trading post for collectors of Coke memorabilia, and a virtual look at the World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta). It also summarizes the activities that make up brand audits, brand tracking, and other brand research; specifies the outcomes expected of them; and includes the latest findings gathered from such research. Have you avoided the temptation to cut back marketing support for the brand in reaction to a downturn in the market or a slump in sales? But if pressed, many (understandably) would find it difficult even to identify all of the factors they should be considering. At the same time, Gillette has created a consistent, intangible sense of product superiority with its long-running ads, The best a man can be, which are tweaked through images of men at work and at play that have evolved over time to reflect contemporary trends. Subsequently, Disney declined an offer to cobrand a mutual fund designed to help parents save for their childrens college expenses. The marketers knew that customers understood the message they were sending with their earlier products. The consumer study only reinforced their concerns. Its market share in the jeans category plummeted in the latter half of the 1990s. But in 1989, when Bic tried the same strategy with perfumes in the United States and Europe, the effort bombed. Are the successes or failures of marketing programs fully understood before they are changed? A firm foundation for brand equity requires that consumers have the proper depth and breadth of awareness and strong, favorable, and unique associations with the brand in their memory. To strengthen your brand, Keller suggests using a brand report carda tool showing how your brand stacks up on the 10 traits shared by the worlds strongest brands. Customers enduring devotionand the profits that come with it.
But what effect would that have in the long term? Decisions that might seem straightforwardWe havent paid much attention to innovation: lets direct more resources toward R&Dcan sometimes prove to be serious mistakes if they undermine another characteristic that customers value more. Tapping customers perceptions and beliefs often uncovers the true meaning of a brand, or group of brands, revealing where corporate and consumer views conflict and thus showing managers exactly where they have to refine or redirect their branding efforts or their marketing goals. Levi-Strausss experiences are telling. The lesson to P&G and others is that value pricing should not be adopted at the expense of essential brand-building activities. In the early 1980s, however, for a variety of reasons, Shell cut back considerably on its advertising and marketing. Have you created a brand charter that defines the meaning and equity of the brand and how it should be treated? In response, Visa introduced the Gold and the Platinum cards and launched an aggressive marketing campaign to build up the status of its cards to match the American Express cards. To determine the severity of the problem, Disney undertook an extensive brand audit. Consumer knowledge is really at the heart of brand equity. Saturn represents no-haggle customer-oriented service. Have you assigned explicit responsibility for monitoring and preserving brand equity? The companys electric razors, for example, use the entirely separate Braun name, and its oral care products are marketed under the Oral B name. Starbucks locations thus far have successfully delivered superior benefits to customers by appealing to all five sensesthrough the enticing aroma of the beans, the rich taste of the coffee, the product displays and attractive artwork adorning the walls, the contemporary music playing in the background, and even the cozy, clean feel of the tables and chairs. In the early 1920s, Alfred P. Sloan decreed that his company would offer a car for every purse and purpose. This philosophy led to the creation of the Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac, and Chevrolet divisions. Many managers are woefully unaware of how price can and should relate to what customers think of a product, and they therefore charge too little or too much. In the late 1980s, Disney became concerned that some of its characters (among them Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck) were being used inappropriately and becoming overexposed. In response, P&G immediately returned to the brands old formulation. By contrast, Gillette has been careful not to fall into the Bic trap. How strongly have you positioned it against rivals? In an abstract sense, brand equity provides marketers with a strategic bridge from their past to their future. For Levis, putting in the system was not enough; perhaps if it had adhered more closely to other branding principles, concentrating on innovating and staying relevant to its customers, it could have better leveraged its market research data. Consequently, all products and services that used the Disney name or characters had an impact on Disneys brand equity. Have you established desirable and deliverable points of difference? In the late 1970s, consumers had an extremely positive image of Shell Oil and, according to market research, saw clear differences between that brand and its major competitors.
Just such a fate befell the Michelob brand. Visa is a particularly good example of a brand whose managers understand the positioning game. Some activities, such as traditional advertising, lend themselves best to pull functionsthose meant to create consumer demand for a given product. Brand equity must be carefully constructed. Your brand#Which means#Example1. The charter then lays out guidelines for implementing brand strategies and tactics and documents proper treatment of the brands trademarkthe rules for how the logo can appear and be used on packaging, in ads, and so forth. Consider Starbucks. With new trends as they apply to your offering? For example, how well does your brand deliver benefits consumers truly desire? At the same time, though, each brand should have its own boundaries; it can be dangerous to try to cover too much ground with one brand or to overlap two brands in the same portfolio. Even a market leader can benefit by carefully monitoring its brand, as Disney aptly demonstrates. How will this new ad campaign affect customers perception of price? Through it all, the company always reinforces its key values of originality, classic refreshment, and so on. Managers of these brands have a written documenta brand equity charterthat spells out the companys general philosophy with respect to brands and brand equity as concepts (what a brand is, why brands matter, why brand management is relevant to the company, and so on). Pity the poor consumers. A second brand name under that umbrella might be targeted at the family market. The Gaps brand portfolio provides maximum market coverage with minimal overlap. Disney characters were used in a promotion of Johnson Wax, for instance, a product that would seemingly leverage almost nothing of value from the Disney name. But its response to that data was flawed: the company took too long, and spent too little, to mount a marketing campaign that would restore its brand equity.
The culture grabbed him, and he saw an opportunity. Marketers at Coors admit that they did not consistently give the brand the attention it needed. One would think that monitoring brand performance wouldnt necessarily be included in the equation. How consistent are your marketing messages about your brand? Others, like trade promotions, work best as push programsthose designed to help push the product through distributors. Distracted in part by an internal reengineering effort, however, Levis was slow to respond and when it did, it came up with underfunded, transparently trendy ad campaigns that failed to resonate with its young target market. How does your brand measure up? Earn badges to share on LinkedIn and your resume. Just as important, the company maintained control over the coffee from start to finishfrom the selection and procurement of the beans to their roasting and blending to their ultimate consumption. Chevrolet has been positioned as the value-priced, entry-level brand. Most companies do not have only one brand; they create and maintain different brands for different market segments. But the top and bottom lines have never regained the momentum they had years ago. How extensively do the brands overlap?
Has an integrated marketing strategy.#All marketing activities and channels communicate the same messages about the brand, solidifying the brands identity.#Coca-Colas logo, promotions, corporate sponsorship, and interactive Web site all reinforce the companys key values, such as originality and classic refreshment.8. BMWs clever advertising slogan, The ultimate driving machine, reinforces the dual aspects of this image and is applicable to all cars sold under the BMW name. Free for a limited time! HBR Learnings online leadership training helps you hone your skills with courses like Marketing Essentials. Finally in 1994, Coors began to address the problem, launching a campaign to prop up sales that returned to its original focus. Do you conduct routine tracking studies to evaluate current market performance? Then while on vacation in Italy, Howard Schultz, now Starbucks chairman, was inspired by the romance and the sense of community he felt in Italian coffee bars and coffee houses. While all of its products benefit from a similarly extensive distribution system, it is very protective of the name carried by its razors, blades, and associated toiletries. Are you aware of all the core associations people make with your brand, whether intentionally created by your company or not? Those intangibles include user imagery (the type of person who uses the brand); usage imagery (the type of situations in which the brand is used); the type of personality the brand portrays (sincere, exciting, competent, rugged); the feeling that the brand tries to elicit in customers (purposeful, warm); and the type of relationship it seeks to build with its customers (committed, casual, seasonal).