Most theorists and practitioners stress the importance of creating a product brand image. A brand image helps the company create a distinct set of values and principles:
- Which help the customers’ process information to identify a brand.
- Differentiate it from its rivals.
- Influence their buying decision and provide a basis for extensions.
Brand association, on the other hand, is the linkages connecting a brand to the other nodes stored in memory. With the help of the structure (the form in which information relating to a particular brand is stored in a person’s memory) and the content (association) of the customer towards that brand, the customer’s perception of the brand is measured.
Brand image helps a product to stand out in the herd
In face of the intense competition between numerous companies offering the same product, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to create a product brand image that stands out its rivals in the minds of the customers. In today’s highly competitive environment a distinctive brand image is most important. As products become more complex and the market place more crowded, consumers rely more on the product’s brand image than its actual attributes in making purchase decisions. Hence, companies are forced to undertake extensive marketing strategies that not only appeal to the audiences initially, but also benefit its users with distinct product attributes. Most companies focus on either of the two prerequisites, rather than both.
Product brand image impacts consumer preference
A majority of marketing tools are structured for techniques which can help marketers improve marketing effectiveness for well-recognized brands. These are tools that help front line managers to set goals, conceptualize a strategy and evaluate the outcomes. Popular marketing tools include the Marketing Mix (4 Ps), 5Cs and Brand Equity models developed by Aaker, Kopp, etc. These models predominantly address the marketing issues of well-established brands and companies configurations. Brands today have surpassed the conventional perspectives of consumers: they are becoming increasingly important for companies in almost every industry. This is because there is too much choice available to consumers to choose from, all of which offer almost same results. It is too laborious to get to know and check them all thoroughly. A brand is an intangible concept, although tangible elements are attached to it for support. To summarize the nature of brands, it can be expressed as (Philip Kotler, 2001):
- A brand is a promise.
- It is based on perceptions- that the consumers see, eat, read, feel and think of a product/service.
- It simplifies consumer’s purchase decisions by differentiating similar products through advertising and promotions.
- It is stored in the customer’s memory based on his past experiences, image and association and future expectations.
Brand association plays an important role in image creation
“A group of brands is collectively a family- each has its set of roles and responsibilities towards others.”- Seffrey Sinclair.
Consumers are made aware of the product attributes, its origin and its places of distribution through branding. A brand is not set on stone; it should be tailored to accommodate its consumer’s needs and behavior. It sets in the memory of the individual, and enables brand extension. Brand building is a step-wise development process- its future cannot be undermined easily.
Brand equity has been an important phenomenon for producers ever since the start of advertising for mass-production products. In the words of Stephen Kint, ‘A product is manufactured in a factory; the consumer purchases a Brand.’ The intensifying competition between similar products triggers enhanced demands from the consumer, which, topped with rapidly advancing technology offers marginal scope for improvement and a better price-value relationship. Buyers always seek the best deals- the best products at an affordable price.
Brand associations are expressed as anything that connects a person to the brand, like product attributes, brand personality, user and usage situations and brand image. The most important contributor to brand image is brand loyalty. It is created by marketing campaigns that connect strong, unique and favorable associations to the brand in the consumer’s memory (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2001).
- Aaker, J.L., (1997). Dimensions of Brand Personality, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 34 Issue 3, p.347-356.
- Kotler, P., Wong, V., Saunders. J. & Armstrong, G., (2005). Principles of marketing Fourth European Edition, Pearson Education Limited: Edinburgh.
- Kotler, P. Pfoertsch, W., B2B Brand Management, (2006), Springer Berlin, Heidelberg 2006.
- Kotler, P., Keller K.L., (2006) Marketing Management Twelfth Edition Pearson Education Inc.