What’s In A Name?

Ever wonder what makes people choose to buy a product simply because of the name it carries? Take for instance someone who goes out and shops for a Louis Vitton bag and pays for it for nearly thrice an ordinary bag –which may serve the same purpose as the Louis Vitton bag. What is it exactly in a name that makes people shelve out hard-earned money to get a particular product with a particular name? Is it simply because they want to be in fashion or is it something deeper? Let us look closely at what brand marketing is all about and how wide its influence is to consumers, if any.

According to Wikipedia, a brand is a collection of feelings toward an economic producer or more specifically, it refers to the concrete symbols for the brand such as a name and a design scheme. Basically, a brand can be viewed as a “symbolic embodiment” of all the information associated with a company, product or service. (Wikipedia, 2006) Personally, I am of the opinion that people who purchase brand names over generic ones, so to speak, do so because they feel assured of the quality of the product or service. In a sense, a brand may serve to create associations as well as expectations among products.

Wikipedia further explains that marketers naturally seek to develop or align the expectations comprising the brand experience through branding. By doing so, the marketer aims to make the brand carry with it the promise that a certain product or service has a certain quality or characteristic which make it special or unique. Without a doubt, consumers nowadays have the tendency to look at branding as a significant value added aspect of a particular service or product. So is branding really important? As noted by Mary Schnack in the online article “The Brand That is You”, a good brand name is a company’s best asset.

In a sense, Schnack notes that a brand is used for the purpose of educating consumers on the type of product you have or want to sell. In our earlier example, Louis Vitton bags cost considerably higher than ordinary bags in the market and yet, people still purchase them. If we look and analyze the explanation given by Wikipedia, we can see that people who patronize Louis Vitton bags do so because they feel assured that the product they are purchasing is one of unquestionable quality. Hence, Louis Vitton has successfully associated its products to quality and endurance.

Why then are brands important? Or are they really important? According to KMF Kamal in his online article entitled “Introduction to Branding”, a successful brand will allow a certain company to establish a consistent base of loyal customers. And by having a loyal and consistent base of customers, a company can weather any storm it comes its way. Branding is said to be the most important facet of any business because it is the company’s way of introducing itself to the world and more specifically, to the market it caters.

“Even if all your competitors are slashing fees or prices left, right and center, your loyal customers will stick by you because you have created a relationship of lasting value with them. A brand with a large base of loyal customers is able to create predictable sales and a regular cash flow and profit stream. Predictability and a regular stream of income is good and as your well-maintained brand creates more and more loyal customers, there is no where to go but up.

Conversely, if you do not have these loyal customers, you will be vulnerable to anything the competition throws at you as there is no reason for customers to stick by you without any compelling relationship of value,” says Kamal. (Introduction to Branding, 2006) In the July 27, 2006 online edition of the The Economist, it has been said that a logo was a straightforward guarantee of quality and consistency and as a result, consumers were more than willing to pay a premium. Moreover, brands are also encapsulating whole lifestyles as well as evolving into a growing social dimension.

Another significant point in brands is the fact that it helps consumers buy efficiently. As Unilever’s chairman Niall FitzGerald points out: “A brand is a storehouse of trust. That matters more and more as choices multiply. People want to simplify their lives” (The Economist. com, 2006). As a result, it is not surprising to find out that successful companies that have established its own loyal base of customers invest heavily in improving their manufacturing standards in order to protect the name it has made for itself.

Let’s face it: people go to brands for assurance of quality. A famous brand name brings with it trust, warmth and familiarity. They purchase a particular brand because they know they will get their money’s worth. And that is the essence why consumers favor one brand over another. Hence, it is a must for companies to go to great lengths to maintain the highest standard of quality. Another favorable aspect of brand names is the fact that the companies behind these successful names have a stronger sense of social responsibility.

Most of us are aware that these companies actually fund or support charity institutions –after all, a good social image is still very much a part of a good corporate image. In fine, these companies –like Coca-cola, McDonalds and perhaps even Louis Vitton, have, in one way or the other, done their share in giving something back to the society that has patronized its products. I personally do not think there is something wrong with a person who chooses a brand name over another because companies have earned all the privileges of having a good brand name.

When we take a close look at the stories behind successful companies, we will see that a lot of hard work and thought has been invested to make a great product or service. Hence, it is just right for them to charge a premium on a product or service that has been proven to be very good. If the consumers are willing to pay for that premium, then it is their rightful choice to do so. After all, let us bear in mind that developing a brand name is not as easy as it seems or as we would like it to be.

It definitely is more than just choosing a catchy phrase or name, making some classy advertisements or clinching a deal with a celebrity endorser. As noted in the Buzzle website, a successful brand is a mnemonic trigger that makes a consumer feel a certain way when the brand is thought of. Hence, it is no surprise that some brands will charge a little extra for an assurance of quality. References: Brand Libra, 2006: Why Are Brands Important? [online] Available at: http://www. brandlibra. com/introbrand3. html [cited on July 27, 2006] Buzzle, 2006: Importance of Branding: What’s in a Name [online]

Available at: http://www. buzzle. com/editorials/7-13-2006-102176. asp [cited on July 27, 2006] Schnack, Mary 2006: The Brand That is You [online] Available at: http://www. globewomen. com/summit/2005/Speeches/Branding-The%20Importance%20of%20A%20Brand_Schnack. htm [cited on July 27, 2006] The Economist, 2006: Who’s Wearing the Trousers [online] Available at: http://www. economist. com/displaystory. cfm? story_id=770992 [cited on July 27, 2006] Wikipedia, 2006: Brand [online] Available at: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Brand_name [cited on July 27, 2006]