Brands and Branding

Creating a brand is an extensive process. Developing the concept behind a brand is just the beginning. But with the support of a strong and recognizable brand, a company can increase its success greatly. The stronger the brand, the stronger possible customer loyalty!

BRAND EQUITY

A company without a brand is practically nothing. The brand of a company is the identifying element that allows consumers to recognize a company and the products or services that it offers. In relation, a company’s brand equity is a company’s “measure of the brand’s ability to capture consumer preference or loyalty” (Kotler & Armstrong, 2012). With this being said, a brand’s equity can either be positive or negative for consumers, depending on their own preferences. I possess both negative and positive equities with Apple and Android.

Personally, I associate positive brand equity with Apple because I am a loyal customer. I appreciate the innovation and entrepreneurial success that Apple has as a company. When I see the Apple logo on any item I know that it is of high quality due to the brand association. In contrast, I have very negative brand equity association with Android. When I see Android products I am immediately turned off because I do not want to associate with a brand that has been accused of copying Apple products. When it came time for me to purchase a new cell phone I experienced a battle of brand equities. With many classroom debates on which company made a better product, Apple or Android, I was aware that I had many options for a new phone. Rather than even look into Android products, I immediately bought an Apple iPhone 5S because of the image the brand conveys and high brand valuation that I associate with Apple.

 There are four consumer perception dimensions that determine the value of a brand in the eye’s of consumers (244):

  1. Brand Differentiation- How does the brand stand out?
  2. Brand Relevance- How does the brand meet consumer needs?
  3. Brand Knowledge- How much does a consumer know about the brand?
  4. Brand Esteem- How the consumer views the brand?

BUILDING STRONG BRANDS

Building a strong brand must follow four important steps:

Major Brand Strategy Decisions

Major Brand Strategy Decisions

To demonstrate how each step is approached I will be using the company, Whole Foods Market (WFM) and the brand it has developed over the years. I am a loyal brand advocate of Whole Foods Market and have recently conducted a case study analysis on the company for another class. Although many people often associate negative brand equity with Whole Foods Market due to its high prices, it is still a company that has established a strong brand.

Brand Positioning

Whole Foods Market positions its brand based on the attributes that its products possess, such as their organic and natural standards. Because attributes of a brand are often copied (245), many of WFM’s competition have also formed their brands with similar attributes. Next, the company solidified its positioning with the benefits that are offered by its brand. As a Whole Foods Market loyal customer I can attest that the company offers a benefit of the guaranteed freshest produce. As a brand the focuses on a healthy life, WFM has formed a brand that relies heavily on beliefs and values. The beliefs and values that are possessed by a company are the tools that are used to connect to its customers on an emotional level. While looking at the core values established by the company it is obvious that WFM believes in the sustainable future of our society as well as believes strongly in the positive benefits that organic products can have in a consumer’s life. I consider myself a “foodie” and therefor I am more prone to be loyal to the WFM brand over its competition because we possess the same values and beliefs.

Brand Name Selection

The selection of a brand name can either make or break a company, as it is how a consumer identifies the brand and the company. With that being said, the process of selecting a brand name is not an easy task. In order to select an appropriate brand name, companies must take into account the following qualities (247):

  1. Should suggest something about the products’ benefits and qualities
  2. Should be easy to pronounce, recognize, and remember
  3. Should be distinctive
  4. Should be extendable
  5. Should translate easily into foreign languages
  6. Should be capable of registration and legal protection

With these qualities taken into account, WFM’s brand name can be analyzed accordingly:

  1. Products are wholesome and are devote to making consumers satisfied
  2. Whole and foods are two very basic words in the English language that are easily understood by a wide array of people
  3. As opposed to other grocer’s that have a possessive name (Ralph’s, Pavilion’s, Raley’s), uses words that describe the products and mission
  4. Whole Foods can be extended depending on the products being offered (i.g. Whole Value, Whole Deal, Whole Body)
  5. Because they are both basic words, the brand name can be easily translated, courtesy of a translation website (i.g. Alimentos Enteros, Vollwertkost, Cibi Integrali)
  6. Whole Foods Market is a trademarked and registered brand for the company

 Brand Sponsorship

One of the main forms of brand sponsorship is through the presence of store brands, which are “brands created and owned by a reseller of a product of service” (248). I have first hand experience with the store brand, 365 Everyday Value, that is offered by the WFM company, as I am a college student living on a budget. The products within this brand are often identical in quality but lack the fancy packaging making them more affordable to consumers like me, who still value organic and natural foods but cannot afford high prices. Also, WFM works directly with local suppliers of specialty products as an example of its co-branding experience. The locally outsourced products have the WFM name as well as the producer’s name on them improving the brand name of both companies.

Brand Development

Developing a brand can be done through four different avenues:

Brand Development Strategies

Brand Development Strategies

As a consumer who seeks variety while shopping, WFM’s use of line extension has furthered my loyalty to the brand. WFM has extended its line of products by integrating many different brand extensions: 365 Everyday Value, Exclusive Products, Premium Body Care, Whole Foods Market Brand, and Whole Trade. As previously stated I am a frequent shopper of the 365 Everyday Value Brand as well as the Exclusive Products line that offers many of the Annie’s Organic products.

MANAGING BRANDS

With the creation and formation of a brand comes the extensive management that needs to be taken into account. Once a brand is created it is important that a brand in managed in a way that will maintain its original purpose. In order to build brand preference and loyalty, marketing departments must form campaigns that will advertise the brands correctly. WFM uses a strong word-of-mouth strategy in the healthy eating consumer market as well as campaigns that demonstrate their efforts to remain sustainable. Additionally, it is important that those who work for the company “live the brand.” On many occasions I have needed advise and guidance on what products to buy in WFM locations and the staff employed there is extremely knowledgeable, creating an image that they all really do “live the brand” of WFM. This commercial below is great example of the enthusiasm and support that is created within the stores due to the engaged staff:

BRAND RECOGNITION GAME

For a better understanding of how much brands influence your daily life I have linked a fun brand recognition game below!

http://www.sporcle.com/games/g/corplogos2

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