Brand Roles and Scope

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Parag Utekar
Student (MBA), India

Brand Roles and Scope

🔥NEW A strong brand portfolio is one where brands each have a specialized role to play (brand role) and occupy a specific scope (brand scope) in the overall brand portfolio/architecture where the brands can be linked and work interdependently to support, reinforce, and complement each other.

A brand role is the distinctive job that is assigned to it in relation to its market and/or vis--vis the rest of the brand portfolio, and the brand scope outlines the customer segments, need states, price points, and channels the brand is designed to cover. A marketer must ensure that each brand in the portfolio has a clear role and a different scope that will minimize the overlap. It helps the managers avoid brand proliferation and inter-company brand competition.

In a portfolio, a brand can play multiple roles. Some could be strategic importance. Strategic, power, or focus brands have demonstrated strong traction with consumers in a particular market place, have considerable momentum for a formidable performance in the future, and contribute strongly to the firm's financial performance. They are the primary focus of the managers and are beneficiaries of most marketing investments. For example, AB InBev manages more than 200 brands, but reserves most of its marketing investment for brands including three of global brands, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois; its strongest international brands, Beck's, Hoegaarden, and Leffe; and some local brands which are leaders in individual geographies like, Skol, Brahma, Michelob, and Harbin.

Supporting brands, on the other hand, are those who are less important on their own but may work to help the strategic brands succeed. There are multiple types of supporting brands which could be of importance to the strategic brands, the main ones are as follows:
  • Fighter Brands: Help the strategic brands in the face of a lower-priced competition by taking on a price war with the competitor brands and allow the strategic brand maintain their premium price position. For example, to protect the Budweiser brand from losing its margins, Anheuser-Busch launched Busch, a lower-priced brand, to compete against the rising competitors in the value-beer segment.
  • Flanker Brands: Target niche opportunities, and thus leave the large share of opportunities to the strategic brands. P&G makes use of Dreft to try and solve the need of parents for a gentle laundry detergent to safeguard their baby's skin, and Tide is a larger brand in the same segment.
  • Silver Bullet Brands: They help bolster the image of strategic brands by adding important brand associations to them. For example, Porsche, despite the very less number of buyers, prices its Porsche 911 GT3 RS very high. Thus Porsche adds street credibility to its parent brand and reignites its association with racing.
  • Past Champions Brands: These brands enjoy a loyal customer base that has yet to trade up with the company's latest strategies brands. They could also be called cash cows. They keep a significant level of sales without investing too much into the marketing investment. For example, Gillette maintains the two-blade Sensor and the three-blade MACH3, and try to increase their sales by pushing the new 5-blade Fusion product.
  • Entry-Point Brands: They provide an entry point to the brand family at an affordable price or via an accessible distribution channel. These brands are usually offered with the expectation that the lower price will entice customers to sample the brand and then trade the strategic brand as their needs expand or as they age and obtain a higher income. Longchamp's Le Pliage nylon handbags are priced around 55 Euros, offers the consumers an easy entry into the luxury brand with the hope that they would eventually purchase the expensive range of 400-900 Euros.
  • Branded Differentiators: These are branded features, technologies, or associated services or programs that serve as components of the strategic brands and help them augment their image. Apples' Genius Bar and Siri, GM's OnStar service, Westin's Heavenly Bed are examples of the firm-owned branded differentiators. Intel Inside, Microban, Gore-Tex are examples of differentiators that are used by other companies to enhance their strategic brands.
⇒ What are your ideas on brand roles?

Source: Avery, J., (2016) Brand Portfolio Strategy and Architecture, Harvard Business School, 9-517-021.

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