1. What functions does branding serve? In answering, please consider whether it is now an essential function of business.
Brands could be explained as products and serves that have been empowered with an added value by marketing managers, following the purpose of creating associations meaningful to their customers. These associations are created for a long-time period, and could not be achieved in short time. Consequently, branding is an ongoing process, which requires constant monitoring of consumer behaviors related to the certain brands, and just as any other process, could be described by having a function.
Branding as a process serves three main functions, which are integration, differentiation and added value. Integration stands for bringing together meanings, functions, attributions, and associations with the particular brand. Normally, integration assumes that a particular brand could trigger various associations with consumer attitudes, which in their turn could be both negative and positive. The ultimate objective of marketing manager is to create marketing communication plan which will evoke positive attitudes and feelings among the target consumer groups. Thus, integration requires first to evaluate audience’s perceptions regarding the set of aforementioned attributes, and then to consolidate them into a meaningful image, communicated through branding campaign. Effective integration assumes reaching consistency of the message communicated by the brand, which is a subject for another branding function, namely, differentiation. Integrated brands could be communicated differently comparing to those developed by competitors, which makes them seen from different perspectives in the eyes of target consumers. This function allows maintaining brand’s competitive advantage, since the more reach the brand is in communicating its meaning to the target audience, the more likely the brand is recognized by consumers.
However, differentiation does not mean that one brand would be positioned differently comparing to the other. Smaller or newer brands usually try to mimic some of meaning or attributes of stronger brands, seeking for recognition through similarity. An example of how budget supermarkets mimic well-known brands shows the drawback of differentiation as a function, thus seeks for brands that have the strongest associations in consumer minds. In times of economic fluctuations, seeking for recognition through similarity is a major choice for smaller businesses that attempt to compete effectively with lesser budgets. By choosing such strategy, smaller businesses would likely to save on advertising budgets since they are not required to conduct focus groups, consumer surveys or other market sensing activities.
The final element, added value, enables customers to derive extra benefits from one brand over another. It is added to brands through the components such as perceived performance, psycho-social meaning and the extent of brand-awareness. Through combination of these components, marketing communications create various forms of awareness and perceptions among consumers. For instance, eco-friendly products today become very popular. This is an example of brand’s psycho-social meaning, were brand possessor sees the product or service he is consuming or using as a reflection of his attitude towards environmental problems.
Brand functions collectively contribute to measuring product, service or company performance, which makes branding an essential function for …