In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Definition of Branding 2. Importance of Branding 3. Types of Brand 4. Functions 5. Brand Building 6. Decisions 7. Dynamics 8. Architecture 9. Hierarchy 10. Extension and Stretching 11. Brand Name Strategies 12. Creating Brand Image 13. Brand Legacy 14. Advantages [with examples].
Definition of Branding:
“Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these, that is intended to identify the goods and services of one business or group of businesses and to differentiate them from those of competitors”.
Branding is a combination of tangible and intangible attributes symbolised in a trademark, which, if properly managed, creates influence and generates value. Brands are a means of differentiating a company’s products and services from those of its competitors. There is plenty of evidence to prove that customers will pay a substantial price premium for a good brand and remain loyal to that brand. It is important, therefore, to understand what brands are and why they are important.
“Brand equity” refers to the value of a brand. Brand equity is based on the extent to which the brand has high brand loyalty, name awareness, perceived quality and strong product associations. Brand equity also includes other “intangible” assets such as patents, trademarks and channel relationships.
“Brand image” refers to the set of beliefs that customers hold about a particular brand. These are important to develop well since a negative brand image can be very difficult to shake off.
“Brand extension” refers to the use of a successful brand name to launch a new or modified product in a new market. Virgin is perhaps the best example of how brand extension can be applied into quite diverse and distinct markets.
It is a symbol, character are combination that gives a legal protection when it is registered a trademark is followed by â like T for Tata’s products and M for MacDonald products.
Brands and Products:
Brands are rarely developed in isolation. They normally fall within a business’ product line or product group. Some products are known by their brands like Xerox, Dalda, etc. Managing brands is a key part of the product strategy of any business, particularly those operating in highly competitive consumer markets.
A product line is a group of brands that are closely related in terms of their functions and the benefits they provide. A good example would be the range of desktop and laptop computers manufactured by Hewlett-Packard and electronic appliances by LG.
A product mix relates to the total set of brands marketed by a business. A product mix could, therefore, contain several or many product lines. The width of the product mix can be measured by the number of product lines that a business offers.
Importance of Branding:
(i) It helps in product identification and gives ‘distinctiveness’ to a product.
(ii) Indirectly it denotes the quality or standard of a product.
(iii) It eliminates imitation of the product.
(iv) It ensures legal rights of the product.
(v) It helps in advertising and packaging activities.
(vi) It helps to create and sustain brand loyalty to a particular product.
(vii) It helps in price differentiation of products.
(viii) It helps the manufacturer for identifying the product.
(ix) It improves the effectiveness of product advertising and promotion. Product identity can be created easily which would help easy ‘Repeat Sales’.
(x) It helps to increase and control the share of market. A brand has distinct image and character that may make it more acceptable than a virtually identical competitor.
(xi) An accepted brand makes the introduction of new products easier and thereby helps in expansion of product mix.
Types of Brand:
There are two main types of brand-manufacturer brands and own-label brands.
1. Manufacturer Brands:
Manufacturer brands are created by producers and bear their chosen brand name, brand is marketed by manufacture. It is helpful in distribution of products in a wide area and to gain brand loyalty.
2. Own-Label Brands:
Own-label brands are created and owned by businesses that operate in the distribution channel – often referred to as “distributors”. Sometimes the retailer’s entire product range will be own-label. However, more often, the distributor will mix own-label and manufacturers brands. The major shopping mall and supermarket, have their own brands for example, Vishal Mega Mart is having their own label brand.
There are many advantages to businesses that build successful brands.
a. Higher Prices:
For high branded products, consumers are prepared to pay a premium for products or services that simply deliver core benefits, they are the expected elements of that justify a core price.
b. Higher Profit Margins:
Businesses that operate successful brands are also much more likely to enjoy higher profits. A brand is created by augmenting a core product with distinctive values that distinguish it from the competition.
c. Better Distribution:
A brand differentiates itself from the competition, customer recognizes the added value in an augmented product and chooses that brand in preference, this creates demand and awareness in market, it is easy to distribute product in market.
d. Customer Loyalty:
Successful brands are those that deliver added value in addition to the core benefits. Alternatively, the consumer may be looking for the brand to add meaning to his or her life in terms of lifestyle or personal image. Brands such as Nike, Mercedes, Sony or Microsoft ensure guarantee of quality. Consistent high quality and performance generate customer loyalty.
Functions of Branding:
Branding is a powerful instrument of promotion which performs the following functions:
A brand name creates a distinctive impression among the customers. For instance, different brands of soap such ‘Cinthol’, ‘O.K.’, ‘Lux’, Tears’, ‘Vigil’, etc. create different impressions upon the users, though the article is the same, i.e., soap. Thus, a branded product enjoys distinct or separate identity.
A brand name enables its holder to advertise his product without any difficulty. Once a brand name becomes popular, people remember it for long.
(iii) Protection of Goods:
Generally, the branded products are packed in suitable containers or wrappers which provide protection to the goods against heat and moisture and facilitate convenient handling. The customers derive many other benefits from the branded products. They are assured of the quality of the branded products.
(iv) Consumer Protection:
The prices of branded products are fixed by the manufacturers and are printed on the packages. This protects the interest of the consumers because the retailers cannot charge more than the printed prices. The prices of branded goods remain fixed at different places and over a considerable period of time. They are not changed so frequently since it involves great inconvenience to the firm and a considerable cost in advertising the new price.
(v) Wide Market:
Branded products are quite popular and have wide market. The wholesalers and retailers readily handle the branded products which are advertised.
(vi) Customer Loyalty:
Branding ensures better quality at competitive prices. Branded products are available in all parts of the country at uniform prices. This tends to create brand loyalty on the part of customers. They ask for the goods by their brand name such as Taj Mahal (tea leaves), Nescafe (Coffee), Tata (Iodised Salt), Natraj (Pencils), etc.
Professor David lobber identifies seven main factors in building successful brands, as illustrated below:
Quality is a core benefits which consumers expect. Most of top brands are famous due to their high quality like Sony, HP, Honda, Kodak etc. Research confirms that, statistically, higher quality brands achieve a higher market share and higher profitability that their inferior competitors.
Positioning is how a product appears in relation to other products in the market. Positioning is about the position a brand occupies in a market in the minds of consumers. Strong brands have a clear, often unique position in the target market. Brands can be positioned against competing brands on a perceptual map.
A perceptual map defines the market in terms of the way buyers perceive key characteristics of competing products. Positioning can be achieved through several means, including brand name, image, service standards, product guarantees, packaging and the way in which it is delivered. In fact, successful positioning usually requires a combination of these things.
As we know that consumer behaviour is dynamic in nature therefore marketers reposition a brand to reflect a change in consumer’s tastes. This is often required when a brand has become tired, perhaps because its original market has matured or has gone into decline.
iv. Long-Term Perspective:
Long-term perspective is the need to invest in the brand over the long-term. Building customer awareness, communicating the brand’s message and creating customer loyalty takes time. Long-term view point can be built by continuous association and effort of a company toward customer satisfaction.
v. Internal Marketing:
A brand should be marketed within an organization each employee should understand value and esteem of company’s brand. Internal marketing is more important in service sector where customer and employee interact with each other directly. This can be achieved by training and development of employees.
Credibility can be developed by reliability and integrity of product and service, it brings brand loyalty and retention of customer. After sales experience of customer with the product also develop credibility.
vii. Integrated Communications:
The role of marketing communication is to inform public about polices and attributes of the products, it plays an important role in building a successful brand. A strong integrated marketing communication network can contribute to the success of a brand.
The questions to be answered is: Who should sponsor the brand? The brand can be sponsored by the manufacturer or producer (also called national or international brand) such as Amul, Godrej, Tata, Sony, etc. The distributor or retailer could also use its own brand.
Thus, when Videocon started its business in electronics, it introduced TVs under the brand Videocon in the market. Similarly, Mobilink (main brand Motorola) and Shyam’s Garments (New Delhi) and Nalli Sarees use their own brand names. The third is the licensed brand as being operated by Coca-Cola Company in India.
The reason is not far to seek. They have to order for large quantities to avail of discounts, and maintain large inventories. All these have become things of the past with the resellers starting their own brands. In addition, they get the advantage of utilising their limited shelf-space for their own advantage.
What branding strategies should be used? Should it be new brand each time, as followed by HUL and P&G? Should it be brand extensions, as recently done by HUL for Lifebuoy-Lifebuoy Personal, Lifebuoy Gold and Lifebuoy Liquid? Or should it be line extension when it introduces additional items in the same product category under the same brand name as done by Colgate toothpaste when it introduced gel, the new line extension became – Colgate Regular, Colgate Salt, Colgate Gel, and Colgate Total.
The line extensions are mostly the result of pressures from consumers to provide variety. Brand extension comes mostly from the manufacturers’ side to leverage the existing brand equity. While multi-brands are introduced to set up flanking brands at each end of the market segment, providing maximum security to the company.
A competitor may launch a new brand close to the one carried by a particular company. Or it may need repositioning of the brand when the original product would become more effective. For example, Rasna was earlier targeted to children and was later re-positioned to attract and include mother’s alongwith the influencer, the child. Another example came to light when Balm, a cure for headache and cold was displaced by Vicks Vaporub for colds.
Dynamics of Branding:
Before jumping to the current branding philosophies and practices, let us go through the changing dynamics of “branding” over the years.
i. In 1960s and 1970s, it was all about creating an apt logo and building a corporate identity.
ii. In the 1980s, it moved toward corporate branding.
iii. The 1990s actually witnessed the unleashing of “branding” and brands going all out to advertise and connect with their target audience.
iv. In 2000, the incubation of having a “big idea” evolved, which was more than just vanilla advertising.
v. From 2010 onward, it became imperative for a brand to cite the purpose of their existence, the experience they were capable of delivering, and the change the brand had to undertake to make it more relevant to its target audience. A brand’s success in marketplace was defined by the relevance and associations it created in a consumer’s life. Then came the phase of defining a brand’s unique advantage, with every category making room for newer and newer players.
vi. Brand valuation expert Jan Lindemann states that 30% of the stock price of companies (in The Economy of Brands) comes from their brand, thus furthering the argument to strengthen the brand.
vii. Finally, today, every brand’s agenda is to create an emotional attachment or bond. This is not only to create takers and consumers for the brand but also to make them the advocates and endorsers of the brand. In this process, brands embody the consumers, and every step is to make the brand an integral part of their self-image and to help represent who they are. From instilling new value system to creating self-awareness, brands today are in pursuit of making better people out of consumers. In 1960s, it was all about establishing, but today, it is all about developing shared values.
Let us take a closer look at how they are doing so.
There was a time when brands would just show consumers the mirror of possibilities and how she could become a better or more desirable person with the brand performing the role of a catalyst. David Mackenzie Ogilvy, considered the father of advertising, has said that, “ANY damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.”
While this truth continues to be prevalent, there are categories that now, instead of asking their consumers to try and become better, inspire them to be just themselves. These brands celebrate the individual’s sensuality and originality, thus bringing to the fore the real person. The more interesting thing is that the retailers in the categories such as beauty, fashion, and beverages, whose core comprises a fair degree of self-projection and imagery, are adopting the path of discovery of the real self, too.
For instance, in the business of fashion retailing, sensuality can be defined as a “state of mind” that makes the person confident of himself or herself, and it is an expression that best captures and delivers the innate personality traits evident in the recesses of the mind of the customer.
A consumer feels extremely confident and is able to express herself best, when the clothing she has done expresses her personality and captures her individuality in equal measures. Hence, sensuality is the physical expression of “grace,” which is an integral part of every individual, and one of the most important components of brand creation and management.
A classic example of brand creation is Louis Vuitton’s “Core Values” campaign. As a part of their “core values” campaign, Louis Vuitton used their website as the online medium to showcase their celebrity endorser’s journey, their story to bring to life how the brand has been promoting the art of travel and inspiring legendary journeys. This travel message they give through personal journeys is a fundamental one for the brand. This campaign has led us to believe that brands today have chosen a new path to create empathy.
From being conduits for improving your image to encourage you to be yourself, from benchmarks of progress being evaluated by the external to creating a new benchmark of progress, and from defining people by how much material wealth they have amassed to now encouraging them to lead a quality life, brands have traversed a long road. These campaigns today encourage people to journey inward to find a better life.
Finding a larger meaning to life, the new wave seems to bring with it the desire to find a purpose beyond the material, beyond the conventional. That has created a new world of validation, a validation from oneself. It is so now cool to be seen as someone having a purpose commonly couched as passionate and youthful retailer brand. Today, particularly in fashion retailing brands, there are a world full of passionate young, discovering, trying, and experimenting to find “the meaning of existence and life.”
A change has also set in the way brands showcase relationships. We can see brands embracing New World ideologies- women’s empowerment, education, environment protection, sustainability and so on.
The needle has now moved to the evolution of the thought process in the context of relationships. A higher degree of openness and acceptance defines the world of personal relationships, and this is increasingly being seen in brand communication.
We can watch the new advertisement of Raymond in which a husband willingly staying at home to look after the baby so that his wife can manage her “working mother” world as seen in the advertisement. Relationships are being approached with high self-awareness rather than just playing to the galleries. The narratives of brands in the context of social relationships are also changing. Transparency and the courage to be yourself when the world outside expects you to draw an image is the shift in this narrative across categories.
Hence, the focus has shifted from the brands fulfilling a functional need to a need that will impact the way we evolve and change as people. By becoming more humane, these brands embrace and encourage “people growth” by creating a better world of people and for people.
Linked to brands becoming more humane is a whole new world of values that brands propagate. These values open new way of thinking and being, especially in a culture that has been stubborn about its value systems, its rights and wrongs.
Brand architecture defines the different levels within your brand and provides a hierarchy that explains the relationships between the different products, services, and components that make up the retailer’s portfolio of offerings. This architecture captures and reflects retailer’s existing brand structure so that employees and customers understand the value of and relationship between its different parts and components.
It also creates a roadmap for journey that guides how your brand can scale in the future. Hence, brand architecture is nothing but the logical, strategic, and relational structure for your brands, or put another way, it is the entity’s “family tree” of brands, sub-brands, and named products.
As organizations grow through mergers and acquisitions, they are faced with many key decisions regarding brand architecture, including how many brands should be managed.
Brand architecture addresses each of the following:
1. What the overarching branding approach is- master brand, brand/sub-brand, endorsed brand, stand-alone brands, or some combination of these?
2. How many levels of branding should exist?
3. What types of brands exist at each level?
4. How brands at different levels relate to each other, if at all?
5. What are the decision rules for creating new brands?
6. Which brands’ identities are prevailing and which ones are recessive?
7. What types of names the organization uses—coined, associative descriptive, or generic descriptors—and in which circumstances (usually controlled by decision rules)?
8. Which brands are featured in each and every media, vehicle, situation, and circumstance (e.g., business cards, stationery, product catalogs, website, shipping boxes, vehicle signage, employee uniforms, building signage, etc.)?
Hence, brand architecture is the design and construction plan for creating the edifice of strong brand. If brand building is about creating an experience—an idea in the consumer’s mind of why to choose your product over the competition—your brand architecture is the structural plan that makes sure everything fits together seamlessly.
For example, the department store fashion retailer Shoppers Stop has signed a strategic partnership with Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL). Under this “co-create and co-own” partnership arrangement, BCCL will license Femina Flaunt to Shoppers Stop. Flaunt is basically the retail identity developed by BCCL for Femina.
With this, Shoppers Stop gets the exclusive license to develop, design, and also retail the brand across all its stores, in the core fashion categories like apparel, footwear, accessories, and bags. The media company will extend Femina, one of its flagship magazines, into the consumer products space.
This strategic tie-up is essentially in line with BCCL’s brand extension strategy to partner, with the retail player having potential to unleash the unexplored value in many of their marquee brands. Being positioned as premium brand, the Femina Flaunt range primarily targets today’s progressive, perceptive, urban, and independent woman, who is in the age group of 25-35 years, working and living in the metros and other big cities.
So if we talk about Shoppers Stop, the premium positioning of Femina Flaunt is a seamless brand fit into their diverse portfolio of premium brands. Hence, this strategic tie-up brings many synergies to both the partners.
Within the brand hierarchy, a retailer’s brands can be divided into different levels. Retailers have brand names at the level of the retail company as a whole (i.e., corporate brand), and at store levels, the retail stores and the merchandise (i.e., the store brands), and specific retail services (i.e., banking services or loyalty programs).
Besides the individual branding decision at each level, the interconnection between the levels has to be taken into strategic considerations. As in industrial multiproduct companies, retailers with more than one store have to decide whether the stores should carry the same or different brands.
Three general branding strategies can be distinguished at the level of the retail brand:
1. An umbrella brand strategy, where all the stores of the company carry the same brand, in most cases differentiated by a sub-brand.
2. A family brand strategy, in which groups of stores of the retail company (usually different retail formats) carry different brands, that is, the brands are strictly separated.
3. A mixed strategy, which applies an umbrella brand for some store formats and separates others by using different brand names.
The main topic in this context is brand image transfer versus brand image separation. Using an umbrella brand strategy, the common brand name leads to a substantial image transfer. Consumers transfer the associations they carry for Tesco Superstores at least partly to Tesco Express stores. All stores are part of one large brand and have to convey the same message to the consumer, if the brand image is to remain strong.
A family brand strategy, on the other hand, is usually the result of market segmentation and an unambiguous brand focus with different brand attributes for each store format. Carrefour hypermarkets, for example, target a different market segment than Carrefour’s discount chain Dia. An image transfer would, therefore, probably not benefit either of the stores.
When a brand extends across its product portfolio, it becomes more challenging to maintain the essence of the brand intact. The challenge is in scaling up the business to ensure it is sustainable and the promise of the large consumer base comes true. While doing so, it is extremely essential to ensure that brand credentials are kept integral.
One of the classic examples of expanding product portfolio is Titan. A JV between Tata Group and the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO), Titan Company Ltd (earlier known as Titan Industries Limited) commenced operations in 1984 under the name Titan Watches Limited.
Titan is one of the successful retailers in the world because of the ability of the brand to cater to various consumer segments through diverse product categories and yet maintaining a clear positioning without any overlaps or confusion about who stands for what. Its product designs are contemporary and are aligned perfectly to the essence of each sub- brand, including Edge, Raga, Nebula, Royale, Fastrack, and so on. This is a disciplined brand owner with a good sense of strategy.
With a license for premium fashion watches of global brands, Titan brought international brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, FCUK, Timberland, and Police, as well as Xylys, Swiss-made watch, into the Indian market. In 1994, Titan diversified into jewelry with Tanishq and more recently into eyewear with Titan Eye Plus. In 2013, Titan entered the fragrances segment with SKINN.
In the later part of the year, it ventured into the helmets category under its brand Fastrack. The crown jewel in the Titan brand league is, indeed, the jewelry brand Tanishq. Launched as a premium jewelry brand, Tanishq has traversed many boundaries and reached out to both ends of the consumers in the upper and middle class. Besides maintaining distinct brand identities, Titan products score high on design and their contemporariness even at the junctures when the attempt is to thrust upon old values and traditions.
Hence, Titan’s brand architecture is very clear, and there are roles and rules for sub-brands that never get vague. This makes Titan a disciplined brand owner with a good sense of strategic brand management.
Managing diverse brands is not the only virtue Titan holds, the company has a vast distribution network to make the last-mile connect with consumers. With over 1,110 retail stores, the Titan Company has a large network spanning across 220 towns. The company has over 400 exclusive “World of Titan” showrooms and over 150 Fastrack stores. It also has a large network of over 750 after-sales service centers and over 160 Tanishq boutiques.
With right branding and distribution, the right pricing is another feather in the cap for Titan. Titan products are priced such that they remain affordable yet aspirational for consumers segments they target. Hence, Titan range scores for its innovative product design, reasonably good prices, great advertising, and increasing store footfalls.
Thus, it is imperative to maintain the core values, DNA, and perceived values of the brand during its extension.
Brand Extension and Brand Stretching:
There are two methods of building high brand equity by which a company can have strong brand names that deliver higher sales and profits these are “brand extension” and “brand stretching”.
Brand extension refers to the use of a successful brand name to launch a new or modified product in a same broad market. It helps a company to enter in new product categories more easily.
Brand stretching refers to the use of an established brand name for products in unrelated markets. For example, Reliance has entered in field of insurance and retailing.
Advantages of Brand Extension:
i. Distributors may perceive there is less risk with a new product if it carries a familiar brand name.
ii. Customers will associate the quality of the established brand name with the new product. They will be more likely to trust the new product.
iii. The new product will attract quicker customer awareness and willingness to trial or sample the product.
iv. It reduces the promotional and distribution cost.
Brand Name Strategies:
What name should be put on its product by a firm?
There are several alternatives as discussed below:
(i) Individual Brand Name:
The manufacturer may give different names to each of its products. For example, Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) has the policy of giving individual names to each of its products—Lifebuoy, Lux, Rexona, Surf, Vim, Rin, Liril, Wheel, Pears.
The main advantage of giving individual brand names to different products is that it does not tie its reputation with other products or its own name. Therefore, there is no effect of failure or low qualities of a brand on other brands. For example, HLL introduced Hina frozen peas in 1960s which failed because the Indian market was not mature enough to accept the product ideas of frozen peas. The failure of this brand did not affect the reputation of its company.
(ii) Blanket Family Name:
The brand is used by the firm for all the products it offers, thus, overcoming the need for name research or heavy expenditure on brand building. For example, Himalaya is used for herbal healthcare products like Liv. 52, Tulsi, Neem, etc. and Sony is used for Televisions, CDs, Video Players, floppy drivers, etc. Similarly, Philips7 uses its blanket name on all its products.
(iii) Separate Family Names:
Here branding is carried out to substantially reduce the cost of advertising. For example, Reliance uses Vimal for sarees and suitings, Legacy for readymades, and harmony for curtains, etc. Each family name is limited to a particular product line.
(iv) Company Trade Name Combined with Individual Product Name:
This policy may be used by a company to popularise own name and to individualise the product. This, Kellogg’s uses Kellogg’s wheat flakes, Kellogg’s cornflakes, Kellogg’s chocos, etc. The House of Tatas is also using the combined name. Each product is promoted under the umbrella brand ‘Tata’, e.g., Tata Salt, Tata Tea, Tata Steel, Tata Safari and so on.
Creating Brand Image:
Once upon a time, a brand was an identifying mark burned onto livestock with a branding iron. Today, we can see a brand is the way to identify a product/service/company/firm and so on. Markers argue that a brand is a shorthand term for the sum total of the perceptions about company and the product and/or services the company offers. Advertising legend David Ogilvy described brand as the intangible sum of a product’s attributes and these perceptions can be rational, emotional, or visual.
Hence, a branding program is all about managing those perceptions by integrating the appropriate tools of marketing communications. Here we can say that brand is a promise of what the customer should expect from the retailer and a promise of how the retailer brand will perform. So a brand is not only a trademark but also a mark of trust that is endorsed, enriched, and undermined by the actions that are taken by the marketers.
Walter Landor, a pioneer in the field of branding and consumer research, once said, “Products are created in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” By virtue of this notion of branding, if done effectively, it creates a point of difference (POD) in the consumer’s mind and allows it to stand out and stand apart.
Establishing a clear brand image is a long-term process. Brands are established through consumer learning processes. Consumers store associations in their memory. Brand associations become stronger over time and must be reinforced by repeated exposure to the same brand messages, because they might otherwise fade away. The past investment in the brand building is at least partly lost if the brand marketing is changed. Thus, continuity is important. Also, risk reduction is one of a brand’s main functions.
Consumers trust a brand, because it entails a standardized and uniform offer under a certain brand-name. Some of the world’s most successful brands demonstrate that retaining the same brand message and communication (with slight variations) for years and even decades is one of the key prerequisites of successful branding. The retail marketing mix includes all marketing instruments that a retailer can deploy.
The term “mix” indicates that the instruments are not used in isolation, but that they jointly influence the consumer. In order to be successful, all marketing measures must be coordinated to ensure a close fit with one another and that all measures convey the same brand message.
Because inconsistency makes a brand image fragile and consumers strive for internal harmony or congruity in their knowledge and information—(refer theory of cognitive dissonance)—creating coherence between all the different facets of the retail brand is crucial for success.
Considering the complexity of the retail environment, ensuring synchronization among the marketing instruments and all brand contact points is challenging. IKEA, Sephora, The Body Shop, Boots, Zara, and others are examples of successful brands that succeed in projecting a uniform image with their store atmosphere, merchandise, pricing, communication, and service.
In the case of retailing, the appearance of a store’s physical environment is very important. How stores please customers’ senses forms an ambience, or atmosphere, that has a great influence on the image of the brand. The physical environment should match the image being projected. Upscale stores usually have luxurious surroundings, mid-priced stores have pleasing surroundings, and low-priced discount stores may not try for any particular ambience at all.
So the key to successful VM is all about understanding the purchase logic of the target consumer and designing the visual aspects of the store around the same. This starts with the DNA of the brand, and the visual brand identity captures the brand’s personality, mystique, and emotional values in a nutshell.
The distinct and consistent orchestration of the identity is central to establishing the visibility, familiarity, and common identifiable brand imagery. The visual brand orchestration can manifest by way of its coherent application of its identity, the brand color(s), the other design elements like icons, the uniquely identifiable design, branded environment, and even the tone of voice.
A major influence on the success of Gucci in the 1990s was the appointment of leading designer Tom Ford. He joined Gucci in 1990 as the company’s women’s wear designer and became creative director of Gucci. With Tom Ford’s vision, Gucci’s image was reinvented. He was responsible for product lines, store image, and store design. In March 1995, Tom Ford’s first collection which was inspired by “sex and glamor,” caught the attention of the press and public.
The image and aura of prestige surrounding Gucci gives added value to the products. This is created through advertising, innovative designers, and the whole experience of buying Gucci. Gucci’s premier position as a leading international luxury brand should also be attributed to the contributions of its design chief Frida Giannini, who joined Gucci in 2002 as a handbag design director, and has worked her way to become creative director (read design head) for all product categories.
She has been awarded the Lupa Capitolina by the then mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno and Design Star Honor from the Fashion Group International. Frida’s focus on the brand’s rich heritage and her uniquely feminine and distinctly Italian point of view have enabled her to constantly design collections that have set trends and greatly influenced fashion across the world.
Under her creative leadership, a new design montage for Gucci has emerged, one which celebrates the house’s inimitable past and its expertise in luxury craftsmanship, all the while adding youth, color, and a playful extravagance.
The architectural and interior design environments—ambience—for Gucci’s new store concept have been designed in line with its brand image, heritage, and persona. Frida provided creative directions for all advertising campaigns and worked with illustrious directors, such as David Lynch, Frank Miller, and Chris Cunningham. She also played a key role in bringing major celebrities to the brand, like James Franco, Evan Rachel Wood, and Chris Evans for fragrance.
The number of employees, and their appearance and attitudes, also contributes to image. Upscale stores are expected to have plenty of sales assistance available for shoppers. Hence, positioning is the most important and critical asset of any retailer brand. It is important to identify the “node” you wish to occupy in the consumer’s mind. Do not try to be too many things for your target audience as you may end up being none.
For example, fashion retail brand ONLY is targeted as the edgy, young, and connoisseur of fun fashion who is willing to experiment with new trends and has her own distinct brand personality. ONLY is primarily a denim brand, with a focus on high-fashion denims in different styles, fits, and trends at affordable price points compared to many other international denim fashion retailers in the country.
The ONLY collection embodies this spirit, and every single element on the ONLY product reinforces the brand identity. ONLY is positioned as the fast fashion brand, and the retailer brings the latest trends from fashions shows to the stores. In doing so, the retailer ensures that every new style is not only high on fashion but also something that will appeal to the target audience.
ONLY has been able to carve a niche in highly competitive fashion retail sector, by understanding of market needs and product innovations accordingly. Over the years, with this product innovation and varied denim collection, ONLY has managed to attract an ever-growing base of loyal customers. For example the brand offers a range of linen products suitable to the tropical Indian climate specially designed for the Indian consumers.
In addition, the brand has successfully captured the customer loyalty by effective word of mouth. Word of mouth is very essential in highly competitive fashion retail sector due to the presence of many international fashion brands striving for market and mindshare.
Though innovations and effective marketing campaigns are essential for brand publicity, the word- of-mouth recommendations from a trusted source often influence and make up a customer’s mind. This eventually results in increased brand trials and brand popularity.
Many luxury brands have a rich pedigree and extraordinary history that turn in to an inseparable part of the brand’s mystique. This mystique is generally built around the exceptional legendary founder character of the past, making up an integral part of the brand story and brand personality. The lineage of the brand has its role, keeping up the contemporary appeal and the newness factor is crucial for enduring brand relevance.
Therefore, advertisement for luxury retailer not only needs to generate the desire for the seasonal collection but also, at the same time, must enhance the brand’s cool quotient, thereby making it continuously desirable and aspirational. Hence, the passion points here are music, fashion, design, ambience, location, people, and the overall experience; it is the kind of thing that we call “bleisure”—a blend of business and leisure.
The luxury collection has hard brand deliverables as it is more of a celebration and a collection of indigenous experiences. So, when consumers buy, say a Cartier or a Chanel product, it is not only because of the product performance factor but also, subconsciously, because of the influence of the brand’s rich lineage, heritage, and the years of mastery.
For example, Christian Dior, long regarded as one of the best fashion designers in the world, opened his doors at 30 Avenue Montaigne, which remains the house headquarters to the present day, in a dreary postwar atmosphere on 12 February 1947, and presented his first collection. His style created a fashion revolution and was renamed the New Look.
Indeed, this new silhouette with flowing skirts and cinched waist turned the era’s codes of fashion and femininity upside down. The designer immediately expanded his house by launching perfumes and accessories, while also moving into the international market, starting with the USA, as early as in 1948.
His designs were more voluptuous than boxy; the wasp-waisted corsets and dresses flaring out from the waist resulted in a more curvaceous form. This New Look sparked a revolution that made Paris the postwar fashion capital of the world. This made Christian Dior the most celebrated couturier of his time by virtue of his avant-garde vision and sense of elegance live on through the house of Dior, which remains a leader in the world of fashion.
Christian’s legacy and heritage has been carried forward by the label, now controlled by business magnet Bernard Arnault’s LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group. The brand’s portfolio today includes ready-to-wear, leather goods, fashion accessories, footwear, jewelry, watches, fragrances, makeup, and skincare. It also retains the essence and persona of the brand as envisioned by its founder.
Let us consider the example of Hidesign, founded by Dilip Kapur in 1978. Hidesign is an Indian leather goods brand that made its foray into the global market in the late 1970s. It was the time when there was a trend of sophisticated and smooth Italian bags. Hidesign’s rugged and rustic textures, accenting the genuine leather’s natural scars and patterns, were a complete contrast, but that is what added to its appeal, and its brand persona was perceived as a rebellious attitude.
Coincidently, it was the age of the hippies, the young, and the rebellious. Hidesign strategically positioned itself as a rebellious brand with the earthy and rustic nature of its bags. Over a period of time, the brand covered a journey starting from selling in counterculture stores to upmarket premium international outlets globally to being the preferred brand of celebrities and who’s who worldwide.
Back to the home country, in the 1970s, Indians used to prefer plastic, jute, and nylon, and Hidesign was perceived as a very rough and uncomfortable product. But gradually, and especially in the 1990s, when the Indian economy opened and Indians started getting more exposure to the Western world, consumer’s taste and preference changed.
Globalization was knocking the doors of Indian market and Indians were increasingly inclined to follow the Western world vogue. In India, the company started selling only in 2000, but achieved a great success.
The company started with an objective to preserve traditional, natural, and eco-friendly Indian leather tanning techniques. It continues to believe in India’s heritage and traditions, handcrafting each piece, unique in its own way, crafted with the same passion for creating artistically and aesthetically high-value designs.
For 800 years, the greatest leather goods came from the Indian subcontinent, but the business was slowly declined after the colonizing powers took over the reins of Indian business. In this journey, Hidesign revived the dying Indian traditions of ecologically tanning leather and eventually evolved as a legendary brand. Hidesign products are sold in about 25 countries through exclusive boutiques and major stores.
Hidesign, with its passion for a classic contemporary look, appeals to the savvy, sophisticated urban professionals and fashion connoisseurs. Its brand image is reinforced by its presence at premium international outlets such as John Lewis, Selfridges, and House of Fraser in the UK; Stuttafords and Edgars in South Africa; Myer and David Jones in Australia; Lifestyle, The Bombay Store, Westside, and Shoppers Stop in India; Parkson in Vietnam; and Robinsons in Southeast Asia, among others.
Advantages of Branding:
The marketers draw the following benefits from branding:
(i) Distinctiveness or Product Differentiation:
A brand name creates a distinctive impression among the customers. For instance, different brands of soap such as ‘Cinthol’, ‘O.K.’, ‘Lux’, ‘Pears’, ‘Vigil’, etc. create different impressions upon the users, though the article is the same, i.e., soap. Thus, a branded product enjoy distinct or separate identity.
(ii) Market Segmentation:
Branding helps segmentation of the market on the basis of benefit-sought and provided to the customers. For example, Videocon has its name in the electronic industry in providing value for money for the economy class. In 1995, it introduced Bazooka version of TV for the middle level segment of the consumers.
(iii) Promotion and Advertising:
A brand name enables its holder to advertise his product without any difficulty. Once a brand name becomes popular, people remember it for long.
(iv) Wide Market:
Branded products are quite popular and have wide market. The wholesalers and retailers readily handle the branded products which are advertised.
(v) Customer Loyalty:
Branding ensures better quality at competitive prices. Branded products are available in all parts of the country at uniform prices. This tends to create brand loyalty on the part of customers. They ask for the goods by their brand names such as Taj Mahal (tea leaves), Nescafe (Coffee), Tata (Iodised Salt), Natraj (Pencils), etc.
(vi) Protection against Imitation:
A registered brand name and mark is a protection against imitation by the other manufacturers.
(vii) Control Over Prices:
A manufacturer can easily control the prices of the branded products. He can fix the prices and print them on the packets containing the branded products. The retailers can’t exploit the customers by over-changing.
(viii) Check on Adulteration:
Branded products are duly packed and sealed which prevents adulteration by the traders. Thus, consumers are assured of better quality products.
Branding is also advantageous from the point of view of customers as discussed below:
(i) Product Identification:
Branding helps the customers in identifying the products. For example, if a person is satisfied with a particular brand of a product, say Taj Mahal tea leaves or Lux beauty soap, he need not take a close inspection every time he has to buy that product. Thus, branding facilitates repeat purchase of the products.
(ii) Ensures Quality:
Branding ensures a particular level of quality of the product. Thus, customers can buy branded goods with confidence about their quality.
(iii) Easy Shopping:
Branding makes shopping easier because the consumer knows what product to buy. For example, if a person wants to buy Sony Television, he can go to Sony authorised dealer and buy the model of his choice.
(iv) Psychological Satisfaction:
Consumer buying differentiated brands feel satisfied not only with the physical product or service, but also psychologically. For example, if someone has already used BPL washing machine without any trouble or problem, then buying a three door refrigerator with BPL Brand will enhance his psychological satisfaction.
(v) Status Symbol:
Some brand names are advertised heavily and they create some sort of status consciousness among the consumers. The status conscious consumers get higher satisfaction from highly advertised branded products.
(vi) Uniform Price:
The retail price of a branded product is written on its packet. Thus, consumers cannot be cheated by the unscrupulous traders. Moreover, its price is same at every retail outlet.
The branded goods are generally packed in suitable wrappers or containers which facilitate easy handling by the customers. Moreover, packing also protects the goods from heat, moisture, etc.