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Companies that have invested in defending their brand and managing the customer experience outside of their website have seen great returns. Within the travel industry, for example, companies such as InterContinental Hotels Group and Royal Caribbean Cruises have both extended their reach to manage the customer experience on partner sites with a very high degree of success. In each instance, their efforts have resulted in an improvement in the customer experience conducive to attracting, converting, and retaining customers- ultimately improving market share and generating millions of dollars in incremental revenue (Lasswell, 2010).
4. Describe the process of profiling a consumer's brand knowledge
Companies that understand this and are willing to be consistent and committed partners with their customers, naturally develop long-term customer relationships. Those who choose to view their products as only part of a needs-fulfillment transaction will tend to turn their products into commodities (Bergsman, 2000).
Defining and managing relationships with customers are what strong brands are all about. People purchase products from those brands that reflect their views, goals, and emotional temperaments. We want to be with people who reflect our values and our interests. We want to buy brands that do that, too. You may drink Starbucks because you think of yourself as sophisticated in terms of coffee taste and selection; someone else drives a Saab because of his self-image as an independent thinker, and yet another shops at Nordstrom because she believes she deserves a high level of service when buying clothes (Baum, 1995; Lancaster, 1979).
The more a company's actions and communications reflect its underlying brand strengths, the more integrated the brand (Lancaster, 1979). Integrated means that everything is in line: a product's industrial design, the way the phone is answered or email responded to, the quality of paper of a direct mail piece, and even the not-for-profit organizations to which it donates. All actions deepen the relationship with the customer.
Many companies don't understand the integrated brand concept. This means that they may place more emphasis on their graphic identity or name than they do on relating to customers. Working Woman magazine, for instance, decided that it needed to protect its trademark vigorously from Lisa Kohl, a small business owner who promotes women's and other selected businesses in the Sacramento, California, area. Ms. Kohl had been operating a web site with the domain name workingwoman.com for two years. From Kohl's point-of-view, Working Woman "isn't living up to its ideals," because the magazine's actions had made her feel that "she and other women are an expendable portion of the magazine's business." Working Woman editor Bernadette Grey argued that the company had to protect its trademarked name, stating, "The brand we built is everything" (Bollen, 1989; Wyckoff & Earl, 2003). Although this situation put the magazine in a very tough position -- brand trademarks are one of the most valuable brand assets -- the brand should never be a detriment to the customer (Bergsman, 2000; Swartz, 2005).
Bringing Brand to Consciousness
There is one more concept that is crucial to practicing integrated branding -- conscious brand action. Using marketing communications to drive brand is a type of unconscious branding because it is not based on underlying brand strengths. However, using the integrated branding tools of organization and brand drivers to direct the brand brings branding up to a conscious level (Bolton, 1998).
In the Integrated Brand Model, brand drives company actions. Company actions are then communicated to customers. Understanding and using company, product, or service drivers throughout the organization focus employees on brand strengths. When executed properly, brand can be transformational -- permanently enhancing the way each employee represents a company and its products. The result of this transformation is a long-term series of consistent, high-quality brand experiences with each customer or prospect. An integrated approach to branding that focuses on both internal strengths and customer beliefs unearths the core of what makes a company and product unique and translates those strengths to employees and customers in an honest and consistent manner (Duncan, et al. 1998). The clarity of purpose this approach brings to management teams also allows companies to shift gears to meet the needs of rapidly changing markets.
5. Discuss how to introduce and name new products
Effective brand marketing starts with a strong naming strategy. That's the central premise of brand-based naming. Often, brand-based names reflect a literal promise of the brand: Peerless Coffee, Everready Batteries, Arrid deodorant, and Excite Inc. search engine. Other times, they merely evoke the brand promise; Atta Cat food, for example, evokes the energy your animal will obtain as a result of eating the product (Alpert, 2005; Lewis, 2009).
But naming is getting more difficult, especially naming based on meaning. Trademark registrations for computer hardware and software rose 112% between 1989 and 1994, and new product introductions are increasing at more than twenty-six thousand per year. 2 There were, at last count, 750,000 registered U.S. trademarks, a remarkable number when you consider the entire Oxford English Dictionary contains only 616,500 words (Baum & Mezias, 2002).
Although generating trademarkable names is getting more difficult, the process of using brand drivers to generate names makes the selection process easier. A company that knows itself may not find locating prospective names any easier but will have a good way to judge potential ones. Conversely, not knowing your brand makes naming a very random process. When a national maker of programmer hardware for programmable read-only memories needed new product line names, it came up with several dozen choices, each reflecting a different personality (Wiersema, 2007). Because the company hadn't articulated its personality, the choosing process was arbitrary, rather than helping to build the company's brand and relationship with its customers.
Alternatively, you can create names based on a company's personality. The search engine name Yahoo, for example, resonated with the founders' personalities: blunt, rude, and uncouth. Said David Filo, cofounder of Yahoo, "It fit us. We were well-regarded yahoos." Compared with Lycos, Infoseek, Alta Vista, and Excite, the name Yahoo is memorable and colorful, and it stands out, while being true to the brand's roots (Alpert, 2005).
Although it's important to link names to brand attributes, be careful of linking a name too closely to a product's technical attributes. Says John Smart, managing director at Interbrand, a naming firm, "IT firms have a tendency to develop names that are too suggestive of product attributes. This can be very limiting as the industry is ever-changing" (Parsa, 2006).
Vixel, a maker of hubs and switches based on the Fibre Channel standard, wanted to let its users know how compatible its products were with the rest of the enterprise. The name chosen, Rapport, led customers to the right meanings. In this case, the product attribute selected will be one that Vixel can live with over the long-term (Duncan, et al. 1998).
By naming based on brand, you ensure your customers see consistency and are not confused when you extend product lines or introduce new products. Thus, naming conventions should be consistent, easy for the customer to maneuver through, and, when possible, evocative of brand meanings (Baum, 1995). Metapath Software Inc. named its first product Ceos, an acronym of Communication Enterprise Operating System. Future products stayed with the Ce- word beginning for brand consistency, then added product-based meanings. So for a product that took network information from Ceos and packaged it for the marketing department to use to understand customers better, the name Ceer (evoking Seer, a future teller) was the right choice. When a provisioning service was added to the product line, the name Cerve (evoking service) made sense to leverage brand consistency (Kirmani, et al. 2000).
Hewlett-Packard started a new trend for high-technology products when it named its laser printers LaserJets, rather than using the company name followed by a number. This gave the printers a personality, put meaning into the product, and made them easier for customers to remember. HP started to flounder when it introduced new models and product line extensions. Pretty soon, each HP LaserJet was followed by a string of numbers and letters, confusing both to the customer and to HP employees.
Alpert, Frank. (2005). Innovator Buying Behavior Over Time: The Innovator Buying Cycle and the Cumulative Effects of Innovations. Journal of Product & Brand Management 3 (2): 50-62.
Bollen, K.A. (1989). Structural Equations with Latent Variables. New York: John Wiley and Son.
Bolton, Ruth N. (1998). A Dynamic Model of the Duration of the Customer's Relationship with a Continuous Service Provider: The Role of Satisfaction, Marketing Science 17(1), 45-65.
Baum, J.A.C. And S.J. Mezias. (2002). Localized Competition and Organizational Failure in the Manhattan Hotel Industry. Administrative Science Quarterly 37: 580-604.
Baum, Joel a.C. (1995). The changing basis of competition in organizational populations: The Manhattan hotel industry, 1898-1990. Social Forces, 74: 177-205.
Bergsman, S. (2000). Weak Falling Prey to the Strong in Today's Hotel Franchising, National Real Estate Investor 32(11), 104-111.
Duncan, Tom, and Sandra E. Moriarty (1998). A Communication-Based Marketing Model for Managing Relationships, Journal of…[continue]
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