By Dr. Catherine Ngahu in Blog

Mar 15, 2020

Brand Building

Brand management is viewed as one of the most significant capabilities in marketing. Building a brand is a fundamental aspect of the product or service marketing strategy. The main objective of brand building is to inspire a positive image in the customer's minds in order to enhance long term profitability. Some brand-oriented companies choose to focus purely on brand building and subcontract everything else.

Brand image is the perception of the brand held in consumer's minds. It relates to the mental associations, beliefs, and attitudes that consumers have about the brand. It encompasses the memories, myths, emotions, and feelings associated with the brand.

A brand may be characterized as the name, trademark, or logo used to identify and differentiate the products and services of a particular company. Distinctiveness is of great importance in branding as it helps a brand stand out in the marketplace allowing it to hold sway in the minds of consumers.

The main objective of brand building is to inspire a positive image in the customer’s minds in order to enhance long term profitability. Some brand oriented companies choose to focus purely on brand building and subcontract everything else.
Value of visual brand symbols

Most brands are identified not just by the name, but also by a visual symbol or logo. Visuals play an important role in enhancing brand recognition and recall. Distinctive visual imagery adds value by increasing memorability.

A logo is an important visual brand element that plays a crucial role in the consolidation of the brand image. Many times the logo is all one needs to see. Think of the Facebook and Twitter logos. The Mercedes-Benz emblem and Toyota logo are other good examples - you do not need to see the brand name. In imagery research, we frequently use these logos as mind triggers because of their high recognition rating.

One of the most memorable advertisements for me is a Mercedes Benz print ad that was run in the dailies and magazines several years ago. It was a full-page ad that showed the Mercedes Benz emblem in the center of the page while the statement below it pronounced 'Enough said'. Further down, the advertiser outlined in very small print all the things you could say about Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It then concluded that: "further talk is unnecessary because it's your car that will do the talking!" And it does.

Apart from the abstract symbols highlighted above, logos come in numerous and varied forms including corporate names that are written in distinct forms such as Google, CocaCola, Gillette, and Britam; or combination of name and symbol such as Co-op Bank, EABL, AAR, Safaricom, Equity and Brand Kenya; or name and pictorial representations like the University of Nairobi, KCB, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya National Highways Authority, Pilsner and Tusker.

Logos are important because they tend to attain intrinsic meanings and associations that can stick in the target consumer's mind over time and support brand loyalty.

Brand as a Promise

As a whole, a brand represents the company's promise to the customers that it will consistently meet specific standards in terms of features, benefits, and services. It would be extremely hard to build customer loyalty without a clear and distinct brand identity.

For example, the Mercedes brand promises to consistently deliver 'the best or nothing'. This is conveyed through high quality, style, reliability, safety, exceptional engineering, and supreme after-sales service. Those who buy it are willing to pay a premium price for what it represents to them.

A brand can convey several messages to customers. It can say something about attributes, benefits, values, personality, and users. The promises a brand makes must be convincing, genuine and believable. Since customers seek benefits, the attributes need to be well articulated to demonstrate the advantage to the user in order to enhance customer appeal.

Brand Identity

For your brand to have a truly strong image, it has to be distinctive. The target customer must be able to differentiate between your brand and your competitors in terms of 'what it stands for' and 'who it is meant for'.

To build a brand image, you must start with brand identity. The identity gives a picture of what you want your brand to represent, while the brand image is how the market actually perceives the brand.

When defining the brand identity, the emphasis is on providing a clear picture and meaning of what the brand is all about. It should convey a distinctive set of values and associations which matter to your target market in important ways.

David Aaker identified four core definers of brand identity based on brand as a product, symbol, person, and organization. The product component of the brand relates to product characteristics, value, use, and consumers. The organization aspect relates to the company attributes such as innovation, social responsibility, trust, and whether it's local or international. The person component concerns the personality, lifestyle and social characteristics associated with the brand as well as the nature of the relationship with the customer. The element of the brand as a symbol represents the visual identity or images, culture as well as brand heritage.

A brand represents the company's promise to the customers that it will consistently meet specific standards in terms of features, benefits, and services. It would be extremely hard to build customer loyalty without a clear and distinct brand identity.
Assessing your brand image

The identity represents how the marketer or brand strategist would like the brand to be perceived by the target market. However, customers might hold their own views. That is why we say that the real brand image resides in customers' minds. Consumer research to assess brand image focuses on understanding how consumers appreciate and perceive the brand. This information helps evaluate the success of the marketer's efforts at brand building. In an ideal situation, the brand identity should be the same as the brand image in consumers' minds.

In assessing the brand image, consumer research seeks information on brand associations, imagery, and personality among other variables. Kenya Power brand imagery, for instance, is associated with the blue and yellow colors, branded vehicles, technicians, transformers, electric poles, meters, tokens and wires among others.

The brand Scotts Emulsion by GSK is highly associated with the fish symbol by Kenyan consumers. Some of the hearsay and folklore about this brand relates to the perceived better academic performance of people from the lake region whose main diet includes fish.

Brand Personality assessment reviews the set of human characteristics associated with the brand. A brand can feel young, family-oriented, or sophisticated. It can be seen as male or female; upper class, middle or lower class; friendly or aloof; or even 'hustler or dynasty'.

The brand Scotts Emulsion is viewed as a caring, warm and family-oriented person. The Kengen brand of the main electricity generating company in Kenya is viewed as a male personality, while AAR is associated with a female personality.

The assessment of the perceived affiliation between consumers and a brand presents an alternate viewpoint on the workings of brand personality. A brand can appear to know and understand consumers, or it can seem to make them feel anonymous. Think of one of the brands you use regularly: how would you characterize the nature of your relationship? Is she someone you look up to from a distance or one you would hang out with?

Logos are important because they tend to attain intrinsic meanings and associations that can stick in the target consumer's mind over time and support brand loyalty.
Why assess your brand's image?

The information generated by strategically assessing the image held by customers relating to a brand helps to determine the gap between brand identity and brand image. It also guides the brand strategist by providing insights as to whether the current perceived image is giving the brand the greatest advantage in the marketplace.