Corporate brand image
Branding is the art and science of identifying and fulfilling human physical and emotional needs by capturing their attention, imagination and emotion.
Your corporate brand is, more than anything else, the most significant thing that will define you in the public eye, and therefore the one that will help to ensure your success - or your demise. A strong brand image and name will boost confidence throughout the business, and create a strong, successful impression in the market. Keller (2003a) says, “technically speaking, then, whenever a marketer creates a new name, logo, or symbol for a new product, he or she has created a brand” A brand serves to identify a product and to distinguish it from competition. The challenge today is to create a distinctive image” (Kohli and Thakor 1997) The resource-based view within the strategy literature has argued that sustainable competitive advantage is created primarily from intangible capabilities, including brands and reputations (Omar et al. , 2009) The relative importance placed by the firm on its corporate identity also influences brand structure. Companies such as IBM and Apple place considerable emphasis on corporate identity (Schmitt and Simenson 1997).
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In the case of IBM, "Big Blue" is associated with a solid corporate reputation and reflects the company's, desire to project an image of a large reliable computer company that provides products and services worldwide. The IBM logo is featured on products and advertising worldwide to convey this image. Equally, Apple used its neon apple logo to project the image of a vibrant challenger in the personal computer market. Why does it matter?
- Identification of sources of product
- Assignment of responsibility to product maker.
- Risk reducer
- Search cost reducer
- Symbolic device Signal of quality
- Promise or bond with product or maker
Advantage: Awareness The harder a company works on its branding and identity, in most cases, the more awareness it creates. For example, Coca-Cola is known worldwide for its product. A consumer can see it in a foreign county, with labelling in a foreign language and know it is a Coca-Cola product. The red colour and shape of the bottle is an immediate trigger in many minds as to the fact that the drink is a Coca-Cola product. This is branding and identity at its best. Advantage: Consistency in the Marketplace
The more often a customer sees your brand in the marketplace, the more often he will consider it for purchase. If the brand and identity are truly kept consistent, the customer is more likely to feel that the quality is consistent and to become a loyal follower of the brand. However, this means that the product must maintain a consistency that reflects the image as well. Attract stakeholders, which can aid the development of strong business relationships. Focuses on long term growth. Disadvantage: Can Become Commonplace Many brands strive to be No. 1 in the minds of consumers. For example, in many parts of the U.S. , people request a Coke when they go to a restaurant, not necessarily meaning a Coca-Cola product, but any soda. While it is the goal of branding to become the standard, it is not the goal to become the generic term of a line of products. Disadvantage: Negative Attributes If a product or service experiences a negative event, that will become attached to the brand. For example, a massive recall or unintentionally offensive ad campaign can tarnish a company’s brand and image, causing the company to need to build a whole new brand and identity to recapture its place in the market.
An important element of a firm's overall brand strategy is its branding policy. Strong brands help the firm establish an identity in the marketplace and develop a solid customer franchise (Aaker 1996; Kapferer 1997; Keller 1998), as well as provide a weapon to counter growing retailer power (Barwise and Robertson 1992). They can also provide the basis for brand extensions, which further strengthens the firm's position and enhance value (Aaker and Keller 1990). In international markets, the firm's branding strategy plays an important role in integrating the firm's activities worldwide.
A firm can, for example, develop global brands (using the same brand name for a product or service worldwide) or endorse local country brands with the corporate brand or logo, thus establishing acommon image and identity across country markets. The top three strategic goals for brand strategy nowadays are increasing customer loyalty, differentiating from the competition, and establishing market leadership (Davis and Dunn 2002). A company with a well-executed branding strategy gains important competitive advantages over its rivals.
An effective branding strategy creates a clear and consistent identity for your products, based on qualities that are important to the market. Your branding strategy positions your products clearly in the minds of customers and prospects, and differentiates your products from competitive offerings. A well-executed branding strategy builds on the strengths of your brand by communicating brand values clearly and consistently. The measure of a well-executed branding strategy is immediate recognition by your target audience with consequent impact on your sales success.
The key questions that companies need to ask themselves when developing a brand include:
- What is the need we need to satisfy?
- What are our core competencies?
- What is the reason for this brand to exist in the world?
- What is the role of branding in the context of the business strategy?
- Is it a functional or emotional brand?
And then there are the internal and external focuses.
To maintain a positive brand reputation, there are 3 things that are required: Good leaderships skills from managers that can drive the company towards their aims and objectives
- Dedicated staff that possesses the same values reflected from the brand even in the workplace.
- A good clean image in the eyes of the public.
- No controversies
The key factors that need to be considered when developing a brand strategy include:
- New products
- Value Purchasing
A well-executed branding strategy makes it easier for your customers to make purchasing decisions about your products.
They have a clear perception of the performance, benefits and quality of your products. The confidence that the brand will continue to meet their expectations minimizes customers’ risk in purchasing your product. A strong brand helps you build long-term relationships with your customers. Customers continue to buy from companies they trust, so it is important to continually reinforce the brand values that are important.
You can also strengthen your presence in retail outlets and distributors through a well-executed branding strategy.
Retailers feel confident in stocking a product with a strong brand, because they know there is strong consumer demand for that product. Your brand strategy can help you sell into retailers and build retail sales by stimulating demand. Encouraging distributors to use your branding material in their communications can also help to build business by giving customers confidence in the service they receive from the distributor.
A strong brand makes it easy to introduce new products that carry the same branding. The new product could be a range extension -- a different size, color or version of an existing product.
In the minds of customers, the new product will have the same qualities as the existing range because of its association with the existing brand.
A well-executed branding strategy ensures that your brand makes an effective contribution to profitability through increased revenue, improved distribution and growth through new products. This, in turn, creates greater value for shareholders, making it easier for your company to attract investment and fund future growth There are a few risks that could come up when creating an international brand strategy:
Assuming the brand communicates the same meaning market-to- market, resulting in message confusion Over-standardizing or over-simplifying the brand and its management, ie: discouraged innovation at the local level Use of the wrong communications channels, resulting in inappropriate spending and ineffective impact Underestimating the investment, time for a market to become aware of the brand, try it, and adopt it . Not investing in internal brand alignment to ensure that regional employees understand the brand values and benefits and are able and willing to communicate and deliver consistently.
The brand image of an organisation represents the current and immediate reflection that the stakeholders have towards an organisation (Bick et al. , 2003). It is related to the various physical and behavioural attributes of the organisation, such as business name, architecture, variety of products and services, tradition, ideology, and to the quality cues communicated by the organisation’s products, services and people (Nguyen and Leblanc, 2001). Brand image must be consistent in order to have a positive image in the eyes of the public.
For example, Clairol introduced a mist stick curling iron in Germany, only to later find out that the word mist was slang for manure. Pepsi translated the slogan ‘The choice of a new generation’ in Taiwan but came out as, Pepsi, it will bring your ancestors back from the dead. These small hiccups may not be enough for major brands that are already established around the Globe, but for smaller brands trying to break into international territory, it could turn into a serious disaster, as it could have been the first impression of that brand for a lot of people.
Reputation is an outcome of interactions between stakeholders and the organisation over time (Argenti and Druckenmiller, 2004). An organisation does not have a single reputation at any point in time. It has a number of reputations depending on the stakeholders concerned. Interactions with brand-associated stimuli (including mass communication, employees, agents or other individuals and groups that are linked to the brand), enables stakeholders to form their perceptions of an organisation. These perceptions consolidate to become a single impression at a point in time – the brand image.
Over time these fragmentary images evolve to become the stakeholder’s perception of the reputation of the organisation. The corporate brand comprises two aspects: corporate expression and stakeholder images of the organisation’s identity. The former includes all mechanisms employed by the organisation to express its corporate identity to all stakeholder groups. Corporate expression links the organisation’s corporate identity with its corporate brand and accordingly is classified as part of both constructs.
The strategic choices that organisational leaders must make to determine the corporate expression include the conceptualisation and communication of the visual identity, the brand promise and the brand personality. The second aspect of corporate branding encompasses stakeholders’ perspectives of an organisation’s brand. A stakeholder can never interact with an organisation’s corporate identity in its entirety – they interact with aspects of the organisation’s identity and in so doing build their perception of the corporate brand. As stakeholders experience the brand, they develop brand images.
Corporate reputation is the sum of all the views and beliefs held about the company based on its history and future prospects, in comparison to close competitors. Corporate reputation: According to Firestein (2006), reputation is the strongest determinant of any organisation’s sustainability. While strategies can always be changed, when reputation is gravely injured, it is difficult for an organisation to recover. The key people who assess reputation are: your customers, your employees, your shareholders, competitors, trade bodies and other businesses and influential people in your sector.
The key things that you do which drive your reputation are simply: your company values, the products or services you offer, the people you employ and how well they work as a team, and the processes that help you run the business. Fombrun and van Riel (2003) suggest that organisations with good reputations attract positive stakeholder engagement. A favourable corporate reputation results in business survival and profitability (Roberts and Dowling, 2002), is an effective mechanism to maintain competitive advantage, and can aid in building customer retention and satisfaction (Caminiti, 1992)
While the definition of corporate reputation is debatable, the one proposed by Gotsi and Wilson (2001, p. 29) is instructive: “A corporate reputation is a stakeholder’s overall evaluation of a company over time. This evaluation is based on the stakeholder’s direct experiences with the company, any form of communication and symbolism that provides information about the firm’s actions and/or a comparison with the actions of other leading rivals. Organisational culture and business processes are also important levers that ust be aligned with the brand promise. Development of a positive brand image will only occur when the brand promise expected by stakeholders is delivered. If this occurs consistently over time, a strong positive corporate reputation will result. Services currently represent a large and steadily increasing share of the global economy (Lovelock et al. , 2004). In Australia, the top 20 brands ranking by Interbrand, reported in BRW, shows that 17 of the top 20 brands are from the services sector (Lloyd, 2001).
In the next decade 90-95% of jobs created in the developed economy are expected to be in the services sector. The increasing dominance of the services economy world-wide has led some researchers to pay greater attention to unique aspects of branding services versus goods. For example, de Chernatony and Dall’ Olmo Riley (1999) conducted in-depth interviews with brand consultants and concluded that managers of services brands should not simply rely on FMCG branding techniques, and that adjustments were needed at the operational level to reflect the unique characteristics of services.
Emphasising the heterogeneity and inseparability characteristics of services, Berry (2000) conceptualized a service branding model based on 14 high performance service companies, and proposed that creating an emotional connection with customers was the key to success O’Cass and Grace (2003) found that services brands differed from manufactured goods brands and that services brand managers were faced with challenges that were distinct from those faced by goods brand managers because of the inherent risks associated with services purchases
Businesses in the service industry are intangible so therefore are very hard to keep control of and measure quality. Kotler (1986) states that the disadvantage that it has over business selling tangible goods is that the service has to be ready whenever the customer wants it. For example, if he wanted to stay in a hotel, then there should be a room ready for him to sleep in. They are perishable, which means that the night that a room was not sold cannot be sold after the day, or an aeroplane ticket cannot be sold off after the flight has taken off.
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