The Introduction of Brands, Branding, & Brand Management

Before the introduction of brands, branding, and brand management in the second half of the 19th century, most products were simply sold generically (O’Barr, 1). Producers and sellers of goods possessed no way of distinguishing their goods from the competition, and thus they had to rely on their personal reputations among consumers in order to convince them to buy their particular products. This method of selling was tedious and ineffective. Not all consumers knew the various producers and sellers, so they had no idea if the products they were selling were of reliable quality. All of this changed with the advent of branding, and today “contemporary advertising is the management of brands” (O’Barr, 1).

What is a Brand?

The Introduction of Brands

According to chapter 11 in the textbook entitled Marketing The Core, “A Brand is a Name, a Term, a Symbol, or any other Unique Element of a product that identifies one Firms’ product(s) and sets them apart from the competition.” In the terms of acclaimed sociologist Erving Goffman in his book entitled Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, a brand can be thought of as the “virtual social identity” of a corporation’s products (4). That is, a brand is an intangible entity which identifies what the public should believe the brand consistently stands for and represents. Due to the fact that brands’ images and reputations are created through advertising, advertising can be thought of as the way that corporations bring brands to life and bestow them with personalities. Brands also enable corporations to differentiate their products from the competition, thus allowing them to increase their brand equity and market share. Brands provide advertising agencies with a structural foundation from which to build brand images through the use of advertising campaigns, and brands provide consumers with a means through which to identify with and code products so that they want, recognize, and know what to expect from them. Brands also allow for the creation of the intangible asset known as good will, which can be loosely defined as consumers’ collective attitude and commitment to a particular brand. Indeed, this intangible concept of good will was given tangible significance in 1988 when “the Philip Morris Corporation purchased Kraft foods for $12.6 billion, six times the paper value of the company” (O’Barr, 3). Philip Morris paid this seemingly outrageous price for Kraft foods due to the extremely high level of consumer good will and brand insistence that Kraft possessed.

Multiproduct Branding Strategy

If an advertising agency were faced with a hypothetical client who had developed multiple new biotechnology-related cleaning products, the ad agency would likely suggest the development of what chapter 11 of Marketing The Core describes as a “multiproduct branding strategy”, in which one brand name, image, and reputation would be developed to represent all of the brand’s products underneath a single brand-umbrella. A multiproduct branding strategy allows consumers to recognize a brand, as well as develop expectations about what to consistently expect from all of the brand’s products.

Green Marketing

Since all of the hypothetical client’s products utilize breakthroughs in biotechnology, the ad agency would likely feel that an environmentally friendly, “green” brand image should be established and maintained. This could be accomplished through the utilization of a green marketing campaign; which, according to chapter three of Marketing The Core, is “a marketing strategy that supports environmental stewardship by creating an environmentally-based benefit that is both relevant and differentiating in the minds of consumers”. A very successful case of the development and maintenance of a “green” brand image through the use of green marketing can be observed in SunChips brand chips.

Frito-Lay, a division of Pepsico, successfully developed and currently manages a “green” brand image through the marketing of its SunChips brand products. In 2008, the company decided to re-launch the product in a new, environmentally friendly “green” package. Within four months it spent over 15 million dollars in advertising; but, by the second quarter of 2008, sales had increased by 17.6%. Television advertisements were created touting the new biodegradable packaging. Unique “Solar powered” newspaper advertisements were created by purchasing both sides of the ad page and printing the advertisement backwards on the back side of the page, while the front side of the ad contained the instructions “Take this page and hold it up to the sun.”

Distinctive cutout billboards that used the sun’s natural energy to cast a shadow of the brand name were also erected in highly visible locations. In partnership with the California Energy Commission, the manufacturing facility in Modesto, California was fitted with solar panels, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inaugurated the facility on Earth Day. When the town of Greensburg, Texas was destroyed by a tornado in May of 2007, Pepsico made a one million dollar donation to assist in the eco-friendly reconstruction of the town of 1,500 people. The Discovery Network and Planet Green televised the reconstruction, with SunChips having a very large presence on the show. All of these efforts resulted in vastly increased brand equity and consumer good will towards the SunChips brand.

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