This paper aims to discuss that organizations how to use strategic actions to enhance brand and revitalize brand equity in strong competition. In terms of innovative marketing, amounts of organizations want to be managed as brands in order to generate benefits and profits for organizations. (Kapferer, 2008)
Indeed, brands are built on past marketing efforts obtained from consumers. As Kapferer (2008) documented, brands could be also seen as assets which produce benefits within long period. However, brands possibly encounter aging and decay in their lifecycle. (Keller, 1999) Furthermore, some brands may be inability to compete in the strongly competitive market, because consumers may change their motivation on this category.
In addition, regulations and advanced technology possibly influence brands losing their presence in the target market. Thomas & Kohli, 2009) Therefore, this paper will discuss two brands of cigarette, Mild Seven and Marlboro. They have suffered the difficulties at different moments, hence, both company had experience on brand reinforcement and brand revitalization. According to Thomas & Kohli (2009), brand enhancement aims to maintain the top-of-mind recall with consumers. Marketers actually could redesign marketing mix in order to fortify position. More importantly, brand equity will consist with brand extension. However, brand revitalization attempt to revive aging or decaying brands.
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When the brands are going to decay, the brand equity will decrease at the same time. Therefore, Wansink (2000) provided 7 steps include reposition and product innovation to rejuvenate brands. Indeed, Ind (2007) argued that storytelling is another important technique which integrates past experience and future direction of brands. Companies sometimes merely think about reposition, but describing a brand story could benefit companies building stronger relationship with consumers. Overall, companies should prepare long term strategy to sustain the brand life.
Moreover, I am convinced that brands need to transfer their communication channel besides traditional mass media. It benefits them extend brand image in consumers mind. According to Kaperer (2012), Brands are assets that could generate benefits to company within long time. Therefore, companies need to ceaselessly manage their brand equity over time in order to avoid lose presence in the industry. Specifically, the standard of brands life could be defined as birth, growth, maturity, decline, and death. During the brand life cycle, companies inevitably encounter dynamics of market.
Consequently, their brand equity may gradually suffer the difficulties and be diminished in the future. (Lehu, 2006) Therefore, marketers need consider brand reinforcement and brand revitalization to sustain the brand. Indeed, it is the important responsibility that determine the when the brand should assess reinforcing or revitalizing for brand managers. As Keller documented (1999), brand reinforcement concentrates on avoiding brand aging and decaying. It will benefit companies fortify the brand image and brand awareness by innovating product and service in competitive market.
On the other hand, brand revitalization mainly recapturing the brand equity which has been decaying and aging over time. As for maintaining the brand equity in a long period, organizations need to conduct strategy for brand enhancement. The purpose of reinforcing brand is maintaining top-of-mind recall in the competitive industry. (Thomas & Kohli, 2009) Literaturely, there are two major considerations of brand reinforcement for marketers: staying at young stage and brand consistency. In order to stay at youthful stage, marketers should create younger brand image to instead chronological age of brand.
Specifically, companies could regularly advance their products or services in order to adapt in dynamic environment. (Lehu, 2006) Therefore, Keller (2012) suggested that companies could enhance the product-related performance to raise the value of brands. Moreover, organizations could use either category extension or line extension to strengthen brand awareness. On the other hand, reinforcing non-product-related performance of brands is expected to pursuit emotion and belief to consumers. Furthermore, I consider that excessive updating or extending may result in negative perception of consumers.
Actually, they possibly confused on overmuch products from the specific brand. Consequently, it will decrease the favorability of the brand. In addition, maintaining brand consistency is a crucial aspect of reinforcing brand. Because keeping loyal consumers is the most important task of the brand. Hence, marketers should protect their elements of brand equity advance. Nevertheless, brand managers could attempt to reformulate elements of brand equity under the consistency concept. I am convinced that it is important to integrate consistency and youthfulness at the same time for brands.
Therefore, companies would redesign their marketing mix in order to meet the both objectives of brand enhancement. As for distribution, companies can establish online shop to contact with youngsters in the digital generation. Moreover, they should enhance their service in order to easily contact with consumers. (Lehu, 2006) In terms of communication channel, he asserts that exhibitions are a vital medium which could demonstrate and promote products with consumers. It benefits companies fortify their brand image in consumers’ mind. In addition, event and sponsorship can reach more potential consumers due to widely exposing.
Subsequently, companies could innovate their merchandising to strengthen the brand image. (Olaito, 2010) More importantly, brand research is most important technique before aforementioned actions. As LePla, Davis & Parker documented (2003), brand research can benefit companies for understanding the need of new generation. Furthermore, brand managers need to monitor changes in consumer perceptions. (Thomas & Kohli, 2009) Hence, brand managers can conduct suitable strategies to adapt the trend. In order to apply the theory above in the real world, Mild Seven is an adequate case to interpret brand reinforcement.
It is the third most smoked tobacco in the industry. They dominated the domestic market and Asia market for long time because they continually maintaining brand equity. Moreover, their sales of global market gradually grew at the current moment. (http://global. tobaccofreekids. org) Indeed, the company concentrates on younger smokers due to the increasing need of younger smokers. This targeting strategy benefited Mild Seven remain the younger brand image in the industry. Initially, Mild Seven attempt to develop variable products from 10mg of tar to 1 mg of tar of cigarettes.
New products were generated with milder taste and lower level of tar to meet consumers’ requirement. (http://www. tobaccoasia. com) It is expected maximize brand equity by line extension. Furthermore, Mild Seven constantly advances new filter technologies to protect its advantages. As for packaging, Mild Seven reformulate some of brand image. The company created a symbolic image to support the brand name. Furthermore they use blue and white motif of appearance for whole products in order to youthfulness. (http://www. thedesignassoc. om)
Although Mild Seven changed the part of image, the brand still maintained the consistency in consumers’ mind. Moreover, Mild Seven used the recycled materials on packaging for improving negative image when selling cigarettes. (http://www. thedesignassoc. com) Subsequently, Mild Seven sponsored a team of Formula One in order to expand brand exposure worldwide. It made a significant contribution to the brand awareness. (http://www. auto123. com) Moreover, the symbol of Mild Seven has been impressive in audiences’ mind in the global market. Ultimately, Mild Seven decided to manufacture cigarettes in Switzerland for quality license.
Consequently, consumers in Europe have more confidence on its products. This efficiently enhances brand equity for Mild Seven. (http://www. ciggiesworld. com) Conversely, Marlboro is another significant example. It has ever become a decaying brand in 1950s, but they now are the best-selling cigarette brand in the world. (http://www. bukisa. com/) After revitalization, the company attempt to sustain the brand equity in a long period. Marlboro encountered several difficulties few decades ago such as: advertising limit (http://www. marketingweek. co. uk) and healthy concern. Morgan, 2007)
Therefore, the company decided to continually fortifying their branding equity to against dynamics. Because governments prohibit advertisement of cigarette on majority of mass media in majority of countries, Marlboro cannot promote their characters and products efficiently even though Marlboro Man has already been impressive in consumers’ mind. (http://www. marketingweek. co. uk) Consequently, the company moved into sponsorship which benefited the brand being exposed on mass media. (Hemdev, 2005)
Refer to Lehu (2006) mentioned, Marlboro transferred their distribution to night clubs which are admitted promotion for adult. Hemdev, 2005) It benefited the company reach target consumers directly. Simultaneously, Marlboro changed the product name with different color before the FDA limited misleading brand name. (Hemdev, 2005) It may decrease the risk of brand equity because changing brand name suddenly results in making consumers confused. But Marlboro still attempted to remain the brand consistency over time. To maximize brand equity, Marlboro developed an electronically heated cigarette for smokers who concern health issues. Moreover, it will benefit the company expanding brand association into the potential market and improving healthy concern.
In addition, Marlboro authorized the brand name for clothing manufacture. (http://www. marlborooriginals. co. za) It benefits them maximizing brand awareness when implementing category extension. The cases indicate that both brands actively implement brand reinforcement in order to fortify their competition in the cigarette industry. However, both companies use similar strategies for strengthening brand equity. It possibly decreases degree of strength and uniqueness of brand associations. Hence, I concur that brands are expected to differentiate promotion because unique brand enhancement could attract consumers’ attention.
As for youthfulness, brands should concentrate on Internet medium and social media in the digital generation because younger generations spend a lot of time on it. Consequently, brands could reach more potential consumers than before. In addition, there are less limits of advertisement of cigarette than normal mass media. Companies have more opportunities to reinforce their brand equity. On the other hand, some brands have already lost their value from consumers. Therefore, marketers need to rejuvenate the decaying brands in order to revive in the market. (Thomas & Kohli, 2012)
In addition, some organizations are interested in acquiring aging brands or declining brands and they attempt to reinvent the brands. It may benefit them expanding to different market. (Kaperer, 2012) In terms of revitalization process, Berry (1988) suggested that 7 steps of revitalizing strategy for companies. Initially, it needs to reposition innovative products or services with high quality. This probably gets consumers’ attention again. Secondly, the quality should be connected with their heritage and reputation.
Thirdly, companies need to improve customer relationship in order to benefit the brands. Moreover, marketers should accelerate visible brand value to consumers. Subsequently, promoting the unique selling point is crucial to differentiate previous products and competitors. Specifically, brand manager should pursue additional value and good quality at competitive price to consumers. Moreover, companies could also provide superior functional benefits which may refresh the brand image. (Thomas & Kohli, 2009) In addition, organizations should integrate rejuvenation with marketing mix.
More importantly, brands need to hold an event or campaign in order to announce their revitalization. Besides 7 steps, Keller (2012) mentioned that brand manager could identify additional or innovative usage with consumers on brand revitalization; simultaneously, they sometimes identify different direction to utilize a brand. Therefore, reposition becomes a common technique of revitalization, but brand managers have to carefully define a new target market when they decided to reposition the brands. (Thomas & Kohli, 2009) However, there are some risks when companies assess the reposition strategy.
Firstly, it is difficult to change brand image for consumers due the stereotype. Secondly, consumers may confuse between the previous image and new brand image. Finally, it possibly loses loyal consumers. (Keller, 2012) In order to rejuvenate brand image, most organizations attempt to modify the visual identity of brand. Indeed, changing the brand name is a frequent revitalization strategy by marketers. It could improve negative image of original brand name with consumers. However, renaming the brand probably decrease the degree of loyalty, brand recall and brand association. (Keller, 2012)
In addition, Mininni (n. d. ) suggest that revitalization needs to transfer the logo, trademark and trade dress could refresh brand image. But it may require repackaging with innovative products to younger generation at the same time. Although modifying either brand name or logo is expected to promote innovative meaning of brand to consumers, companies possibly invent huge amounts of expenditure on interpreting a new identity from an old one. Indeed changing the colors and the fonts is an easier and cheaper action for modifying visual identity and moving toward the fresh image.
According to Ind (2007), storytelling is another tool for brand revitalization. Consumers and companies could be engaged in the story which describes brand history. Because brands possibly become aging within long time, consumers gradually have weak association with aging brands. Hence, Storytelling is a crucial medium to awake consumers’ memory of brands. In fact, I am convinced that storytelling could efficiently benefit companies on consumer retention while companies change the elements of brand equity. Additionally, celebrity endorsement is a useful technique for brand revitalization.
Because celebrities can provide additional value from celebrities’ image, they can improve brand image and attract consumers’ attention for aging brands. Moreover, celebrity endorsement could extend communication channel of brand such as TV, magazine, activities and film. Consequently, companies attempt to sign a contract with younger and fashionable in order to returning youthfulness. Furthermore, celebrity could easily build association when companies assess repositioning. However, celebrity endorsement sometime has negative impact on brand image when celebrities have negative behaviors or news.
More importantly, organizations should carefully choose suitable celebrities who own the public image as same as brand. (Lehu, 2006) The Marlboro Cigarettes is a famous example to understand the revitalization steps in reality. In the early period, Marlboro Cigarettes failed on female market in the United Stated in 1902. They initially introduced the campaign “Mild as May” in order to reach lady’s image. Furthermore, they tried to design red tips with cigarettes in order to meet female’s requirement, but it did not benefit the sales of Marlboro. (http://www. bukisa. om/)
In addition, the need of cigarette annually increased in the United Stated during the World of War II, whereas, Marlboro gradually was taken off the market due to weak brand awareness. Consequently, Marlboro tried to launch the filtered cigarettes for the female markets. The new products also aimed to against a study linking smoking to lung cancer. (http://voices. yahoo. com) However, the strategy could not benefit the company getting strong presence in the market. It is evidenced that Marlboro failed on brand enhancement even though they worked hard for consumers’ perception. http://www. bukisa. com/)
Therefore, Marlboro decided to completely revitalize the brand position. The company changed the target consumer from females to males with a campaign called “tattooed man”. The character is expected significantly establishing strong image in consumers’ mind, because the stereotype of man was a worker, a captain, a marine and an adventure in the United Stated in 1900s. Specifically, Marlboro created a cowboy as the Marlboro man in advertisement. (http://adage. com) The companies also use celebrity endorsement as Marlboro Man to strengthen their personality.
Since then, the cowboy has become an impressive image for both smokers and non-smokers when they thought about Marlboro. As for product innovation, Marlboro developed a longer and white color of appearance of cigarettes. Compared to competitors, it was a unique feature which appealed high quality of cigarettes to consumers. http://www. bukisa. com/ Simultaneously, Marlboro redesigned the packaging with red, white and black-lettered in order to convey the independent spirit. (Hemdev, 2005) After revitalization, Marlboro turned round in the cigarette market in the USA.
Furthermore, the brand became the premium brand and market leader in the world. As a result, the theory of Berry (1988) is convinced to success on brand revitalization. Comparing to Marlboro, Mild Seven did the brand well for long time, but the company plans to revitalize brand due to moving to global market. In order to obtain more market share in the regions besides Asia, Mild Seven decided to create a new brand name, Mevius which instead of Mild Seven. (http://www. jt. com/) In fact, the new name would benefit the company adapting in FDA’s policy of brand name.
Although Mevius is a new name, it still remained the meaning of brand. Furthermore, the new name is expected to evaluate to premium position for western consumers. In addition, the packaging strategy keeps the icon and color of origin with new exterior design. (White, 2012) Indeed, Mild Seven integrated brand equity of past and future; this may decrease risk of brand association with consumers. Both brands attempt to reposition their brand equity for revitalization, but they did not efficiently connect to previous elements.
Mild Seven and Marlboro have rich heritage in the industry, they could actually utilize their history conveying a story to consumers. As Ind documented (2007), storytelling can remind the consumers’ perception on brands. Moreover, it benefits brands retaining older consumers. In my opinion, the best technique of brand revitalization will retain the loyal consumers and refresh brand equity at the same time. In conclusion, brand reinforcement and brand revitalization are crucial consideration for brand managers. Both of them have similar strategy in the market, but they are implemented at different moment.
Therefore, organizations tend to maintain brand consistency and protect source of brand equity in order to survive in the competitive environment. Although most of scholars assert that brand should consistently evaluate their products and consumers’ perception, I personally consider that organizations need to innovate their communication channels in the modern society. Because of advanced media, people would obtain information widely; therefore, Strengthen communication benefit brand fortifying brand equity and easily contacting with more potential consumers.
On the other hand, companies concentrate on refreshing brand image by brand revitalization; hence, they always reposition the brand to improve negative brand equity. But it is expensive to reposition brands, some brand managers would redesign logo and packaging to rejuvenate brands. It possibly diminish the degree of risk for companies. In fact, I assert that it may be dangerous to rename the brand, which may lose their heritage with consumers. Although Mild Seven was successful on the decision, most consumers can not associate it between the Mevius and Mild Seven.
In my opinion, revitalized brand should convey messages in order to make younger generations realizing brand heritage and value. It could build stronger relationship with consumers. In addition, Remaining brand history benefit companies retaining loyal consumers. Overall, brand managers should conduct long term strategy before building brands because sustaining brand equity is a profitable contribution to companies.
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