Brand Management

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Summary

What is Brand Management? Meaning.

Brand Management (BM) refers to the managerial activities related to increasing, maintaining, or rationalizing the value or equity of a brand through managing its tangible and intangible aspects.


For service brands the tangibles are to do with the customer experience - the retail environment, interface with salespeople, overall satisfaction, etc. For product, service and corporate brands, the intangibles are the same and refer to the emotional connections derived as a result of brand experience, identity, communication and people.


Strong brands can be legally protected, are easy to pronounce, easy to remember, easy to recognize, attract attention, suggest product benefits or usage, support the company or product image, distinguish the product's positioning relative to the competition.


The Brand Management Process. Steps

The strategic brand management process involves the design and implementation of various marketing programs and plans in order to build, measure, and maintain brand equity.

We can distinguish 4 main activities or steps in the overall process:

  1. Identification and Development of Brand Plans: It is important to clearly understand what a brand is representing. We position a brand in this step with its competitors in mind. A "brand positioning" model tells us how to use integrated marketing to maximize competitive advantage. A "brand resonance" model tells us how to create long term relationships with customers. A "brand value chain" model is a means to trace the value creation process for brands and to understand the financial impact of marketing expenditures.
  2. Designing and Implementing the various Brand Programs: Building brand equity involves positioning the brand well in the minds of the customers to achieve as much brand resonance as possible. This will depend on various factors such as the brand elements that make the brand and how they are mixed and matched and the marketing activities and supporting marketing programs.
  3. Measuring and Interpreting Brand Performance: After a brand is launched, it is imperative to measure the performance of the brand and whether it is matching with the interpreted levels. It's important for managers to take into consideration the performance and growth of the brand. A periodic brand audit is necessary to measure the performance of the brand. It involves gathering the response of the market to a brand from the consumers as well as competitors.
  4. Growing and Sustaining Brand Equity: Once the brand equity is established, it is important to maintain the growth of the brand and to sustain it. This is done by providing great customer service and by delivering a superior product quality as required by the customers.
    While expanding and growing the brand it is important that the quality remains the same across the geographies in order to maintain the brand equity created.

Changes in Emphasis of Brand Management

Initially brand management emphasized a product- and company-centric perspective that considered customers as passive recipients. Nevertheless, their seem to be a shift in paradigm in which brands are now seen as a portfolio of meanings built by personalized experiences of multiple stakeholders that are co-created in relations, interactions and brand touch points. As a result of this paradigm shift, the tasks of brand managers have now changed in several ways:

  1. MULTIPLE STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVE: Although brand managers used to take into account customers’ perception of brands, they are now forced to also consider the multiple stakeholders’ perceptions and interpretations of brands; this is a multiple-stakeholder perspective in which brands are seen customer-employee and a company-stakeholder interface. Actually, the company becomes the brand in this case.
  2. MORE ACTIVITIES: Because of the wider perspective of brand management, additional activities besides the traditional ones (advertising, communication) should be considered. The reason is that now brand perceptions depend on the question whether brands are able to meet their promises and give a superior impression by stakeholders throughout the process of contact and interactions they will have. This will create commitment and brand loyalty.
  3. DECREASED CONTROL: As a result of the paradigm shift, customers’ opinions about brands are affected by the multiple stakeholders’ perceptions, who are able to share their perceptions through the use of social networks. Indeed, social networks become increasingly powerful in constructing the brand meaning and perceptions; brand managers have lost some of their control over their brand as a result of this power shift.
  4. The Internet has become an important channel for managing brands and the Online Corporate Reputation.

Sources:
Iglesias, O. And E. Bonet (2012). “Persuasive Brand Management: How managers can influence brand meaning when they are losing control over it.” Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25

Kevin Lane Keller, "Strategic Brand Management", pp. 57-60


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