Brand management refers to the application of a series of marketing techniques to a specific product, product line, or brand.This is necessary to increase the value of the product in the eyes of the consumer and, therefore, to increase the value of the brand.
A number of important trends have appeared in brand management, namely in the creation, promotion, support of brands for products and services of companies. They are discussed in this article.
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This trend has two manifestations.
- First, both in the world, there is a process of reduction of brands in the portfolio of companies. If earlier the general approach to brand architecture was to increase the number of brands, now the opposite trend is observed.
- Secondly, today business is increasingly building an architecture in which different brands help each other sell better.
Consolidation is one of the most global things that are now observed in the world. For example, individual Coca-Cola brands used to have different packaging designs. Last year, the company made the decision: “It’s all Coca-Cola.” She decided to keep the main color red, and the sub-brands will differ only in shades. The company’s goal is for consumers to buy the Coca-Cola brand first, rather than relying on the individual characteristics of individual products.
4 criteria For A Sufficient Number Of Brands
The First Question To Determine The First Criterion Is: How Many Brands Do You Need To Consistently Maintain A Leading Position In A Given Market?
This is one of the main questions that Unilever raises when it rejects brands.
It must be assumed that for a company that is among the top three (or even four or five) players, it is important to maintain first positions in the segments where it operates.
It should also be noted that branding is promotion. A company that wants to build a brand must be ready to invest $50-70 thousand monthly in its promotion. If it’s about creating a brand just to have a name and a place on the shelf, without occupying a special place in the minds of consumers, then the costs will be less.
The Second Question For The Second Criterion Is: Is The Brand Growing?
To a large extent, this question is related to another criterion: will the brand with its idea and assortment be interesting for consumers in the next 10 (or at least seven or eight) years?
It is clear that well-known brands win because they are entrenched in the minds of people through the work of supporting and promoting them.
The Third Question To The Next Criterion: What Is The Optimal Number Of Brands?
For example, one large distribution company has 63 brands it works with. She asked herself: when a sales representative comes to the point, what is the maximum number of tasks he can handle? What information can be conveyed? If you approach realistically, you will get information about a maximum of three brands, only about THREE!
Practice shows: you need to leave no more than 10 brands in the portfolio. Effective distribution companies manage between seven and fifteen brands. Then they have enough resources to work normally with each brand.
Each of the brands must have some unique value that will attract the buyer. This is one of the main criteria for keeping a brand in the portfolio. The ideal is to have brands with core values that don’t overlap.
For example, for one, the main value is safety, for the other, taste or premium. Of course, this does not mean that safety is the absence of taste or that taste is harmful to health. But the value as such should be one. At the same time, expensive brands are better fixed in the mind if two values are allocated for each of them – then it will be easier for a person to justify a high price for himself.
So, the main criterion in making a decision to “leave a brand in the portfolio” is its ability to “make the weather”, to dominate in some segment.
The second criterion is high income. If we see that profits are steadily declining or that their level is very low, then we get a signal that the brand has exhausted itself or is already close to it.
Another, Fourth Criterion For A Distribution Company Is The Willingness Of The Supplier To Invest In The Development Of The Brand In The Domestic Market.
Experience shows that not all players who supply brands to our country are ready to invest resources in shaping perception.
Brand Architecture Optimization
There are three main factors that influence how brand architecture can be optimized when reducing the number of brands:
- target group;
- the value that the main product carries;
Rule of thumb drawn from practical experience: if all three factors are different (you market or stock something that targets a different target group, carries a different value and is different in price than what you have),” prescribes” the creation of a new brand. So the juice company decided to create a new brand that differed from the main brand in three ways:
- made from domestic fruits,
- was cheaper and
- focused on more economical buyer.
If what you offer differs in one or two factors, then subbranding is prescribed. That is, the common name remains, but some difference is added, a zest to an existing brand.
An important question: how do the brands that you have in your portfolio overlap with the basic needs and tastes of the audience (especially if it is food)?
So, when choosing snacks, on a subconscious level, we ask ourselves the question: “What do I want, salty or sweet?”. That is, we choose between tastes, and not between chocolate and something else. In the head of every consumer there are such contradictions. You should not tear them apart, combining sweet and salty under one brand – say, bars and chips.
The Essence Of Branding
The essence of branding is the ability to connect your brand with what is already in people’s heads. At the same time, the task of marketers or brand managers is to understand what exactly has already been established in the minds of consumers and organically link our new product to this. It is impossible to “break the brain” of people, violating what is already in their heads!
For example, there are two most popular colors used by brands: blue and red. Blue creates confidence, calmness on a subconscious level. And red is used when the brand should be associated with activity, passion, aggressiveness, perhaps with speed. In branding, you can safely rely on these stereotypes.
Here’s what else to consider in order to properly use the consolidation trend:
Remove brands that duplicate each other in the main assortment. Leave only unique positions.
Eliminate elements from the packaging design that distract from the main information.
For example, if you look at a shelf with dairy products in an ordinary supermarket, then, probably, the word “variegation” can best describe its condition (milk is often blue, kefir is green, yogurt is raspberry, etc.). Therefore, brands that are trying to unify a color or figurative solution can benefit from this background.
For example, a brand strip of a dairy company became a real breakthrough. They made a very simple minimalist identifier that entered people’s minds better than kefir green or raspberry yogurt.
Brand Content As The Currency Of Modern Marketing
To generate and maintain interest, a brand must continually offer content that is ideally generated in conjunction with something. For example, in order to be heard, one job search site participates in more than 60 events a year. And another 40 events the site (serving its employees, of course) conducts independently.
Each of these events generates content (video, image, texts, etc.). For example, one company came up with the Bring Your Dog to Work campaign. It was so unusual that one TV channel took over its coverage: before, during and after the event. A year ago, 51 companies took part in such an event, and 153 companies took part in this one. Accordingly, coverage expanded. The idea becomes an impetus for the formation of a community, the functioning of which is supported by the provision of useful, relevant information.
Therefore, one of the first questions to the brand manager :
what do you do alone or in collaboration to get the kind of content that people want to talk about and that the media wants to write about?
Value Is More Important Than Price
The lowest price mantra is no longer as convincing as it used to be. Of course, this is a controversial statement if the market is experiencing a serious recession that accompanies the next crisis in an endless series of global and national problems.
However, even in the “middle and lower” segment, in addition to a good price, people want to know what they are buying, they want to get some value. This may be the origin of the product, its usefulness, and the like.
Many consider good value for money as a brand competitive advantage . And, at first glance, this may seem right.
Steve Jobs said that in any market there are two segments of buyers: dummies and professionals. Accordingly, you must make your product either for “dummies” who do not have special requirements (and then the price is the main driver), or for professionals (and then the quality characteristics become the main criterion).
Even if you offer a cheap brand, you must definitely have value that will promote it.
For example, there is now a paradox in the dog and cat food market. People are getting poorer and the premium food market is growing at 20% a year. Why? Because the value of treating pets as family members is becoming more and more evident.
A Bit Of Practice About Value And Price
In my practice, I met a company that was a leader in terms of quality, but significantly lost to its closest competitors in terms of price-quality ratio. Quality was too expensive, and this made the brand not very attractive to potential and even existing consumers. The owner of this company saw this trend in time, and engaged in cost reduction , thereby adding value to the brand, and brought the price-quality ratio to acceptable limits for the markets.
By the way, in order to identify this problem, the owner ordered research, namely, comparative tests of his products with competitors’ products. Therefore, it is useful for brand managers to know and use the different methods that lie at the interface between marketing and quality management, which offer very advanced methods of research and action.
Digitalization – Digital Technologies
It is clear that now digital permeates everything, and brand management without digital tools is ineffective. So, it is impossible to attract attention in the services market if you are not on the first page of Google or Yandex search engines, or if there are no useful articles on the Internet about what you offer.
Digital technologies as a tool for the formation of knowledge, perception, habits are increasingly penetrating into various markets. For example, retail chains are now preparing an individual offer for each customer. The marketing department keeps track of the customer’s purchase history and from the hundreds of offers that the commercial department prepares, selects those that fit with his personal profile.
Such technologies reflect not only the presence of brand information on the Internet , which is called “in the first lines”. It also includes getting useful data from existing and potential customers about their preferences, habits, dreams and hopes. In the end, it may turn out to process a large amount of disparate information from various sources – the prerogative of the so-called Big Data technologies. And many many others.
Personal Relationships With Consumers
Now we all feel (and this is a global trend): people want brands to personally interact with them, ask their opinion. Last year, McDonald’s announced a competition for a new hamburger recipe. In Ukraine, there were already 450 thousand applicants!
This has a somewhat comical, but quite fair name “ bath management ”, when an employee of a company, an employee of the sales or marketing department works according to the principle: breakfast with a consumer, lunch with a consumer, dinner with a consumer, evening “gatherings” with a consumer, for example, at his birthday or other family holiday.
When an employee is, in fact, forbidden to appear in the office during working and even non-working hours, when coming to the office can even be regarded as absenteeism: what are you doing here? there are no customers here! Of course, everything should be in moderation!
Whether brands have a future depends on how interesting they are to the so-called generation Y. Half of the brands that were created in the early 2000s (2000s) need to be updated.
Now, for example, in the telecommunications market there is a struggle for the attention of younger groups. Brand identities, product lines, and the like are changing. And this trend will continue to spread to more and more markets.
It cannot be ruled out that the processes associated with generational differences will determine the development of brand technologies over the next 10-15 years.
There are studies that show that the desire to save money and make the purchase of an apartment the purpose of life is absent in generation Y. Young people are ready to move, try new things, change something, spend money on recreation and entertainment.
In one old movie, young pilots are asked: what is the most important thing in an airplane? And one of them answers: eyes. You need to constantly turn your head, realizing that at any moment danger may appear from somewhere.
The same can be said about the brand manager: it is important to constantly look at all 360 degrees (horizontally and vertically, like in an airplane) in order to understand with whom else you can cooperate, and where an unexpected problem may “fly in”.
Even 10 years ago, co-branding (co-branding) was considered a tool for mature brands, which was used to expand target groups or to deepen into narrow target groups. Now it is used even at the launch stage.
Brands often lack resources, so they look for ways to communicate what matters to them through affiliate programs. Often there is a need to develop those communities that may not seem the most profitable, but which have great potential for growth.
The larger the audience will be covered as a result of cooperation, the higher the likelihood that the brand will be able to gain a foothold even with a small budget.
A Little About Brand Managers And The Basics Of Brand Management
Effective brand management requires value-oriented brand managers. Let them be young, with little experience, but the main thing is that they be indifferent and always with a high emotional charge. Then the brand can turn out bright and energetic, like the sun that warms people. At the same time, the necessary and sufficient condition will be the recharging of the “sun”, carried out by the brand manager at the expense of his ideas and energy.
And one more rule, which is actually the basis of brand management: tasks should be set for at least three years. Because if you want to influence the buyer through the brand, then the first results can be obtained only after 2-2.5 years.
If we are talking about the B2B market, then the effect may appear only after 4-5 years. This has been proven by many brands. Only after six months, what we put into communication acquires a critical mass and begins to have some effect, influence the frequency of purchases, brand loyalty, etc.
Something Else To Keep In Mind
It is far from always that a “middle hand” company (obviously not a multinational company) engaged in active branding wins the market. In our difficult time, brands can be easily “repeated”, counterfeited by legal methods, observing the necessary rules for creating identification differences from the original.
Therefore, when choosing a branding strategy, one must take into account the unpleasant opportunities that may follow from competitors. The one who first creates a new product, a new brand, spending a lot of effort and money on it, can be easily and relatively cheaply repeated, copied if you want.