Brands and branding are not new concepts in business. During the Stone Age, hunters used particular brands for their swords in hunting. Since then, the concept of brands and branding has developed in terms of knowledge, procedures and theories. Some theories used concerning branding, originated primarily because of the development of commercials in media. Companies have realized the importance of branding, which has added to the interest of theories behind the concept of brands and branding. This in turn has led to substantial literatures on the subject of brands and branding. Branding has undergone evolution, but the concepts of branding continue being central in every stage of evolution. In addition, branding management has also undergone substantial change since the 1950s (Marquadrt, Makens, & Larzelere, 1995).
Background: Evolution of Branding
Prior to the 1970s, branding was not a matter of attention. Even countries that understood the potential advantages of a strong brand disregarded branding. Interestingly, the firms did not charge more for branded products, when compared to non-branded products, which made it less attractive to emphasize branding. This found its way to legislation, and there were firm consumer movements that discouraged branding. From a consumer perspective, the historical consumers did not care about branding. This also reflected the poor management in the companies, in terms of branding because the companies did not care (Marquadrt, Makens, & Larzelere, 1995).
The management did not focus on branding concepts, perhaps because they failed to see the anticipated benefits. Prior studies show that consumers favored products from renowned brands, but a large proportion considered price as a crucial aspect when buying a product. Over time, the concept of branding emerged; brand loyalty. This raised debates, and many firms started investing in branding. However, there was inadequate evidence to link brand loyalty and profits, and this resulted to uncertainty. However, consumers, at the time, were brand loyal to household goods (Marquadrt, Makens, & Larzelere, 1995).
Brand personality emerged in the 1950s, where some scholars begun investigating why the consumer could prefer one store to the other. This was somehow interesting in the sense that two stores could offer similar prices, quality, good services, but the consumer showed partiality towards one store. The emerging reason for this was the personality of the store. For one to make or develop the desired personality, one should use the influence of the brand image. Managers in the time failed to focus on branding strategies because there were many challenges. For instance, the customers and legislation were not concerned (Dyole, 1989).
Currently, companies have recognized the status of brand and branding in the business field. The idea of brand identity has attracted much attention, and 21st century firms specify their brand identities in their corporate business. The concept has become broad, and now includes the theories of positioning, relationship and brand personality. Apparently, it has also become a tool for managers to market their products. Brand identity provides guidelines on which parts of the brand the manager should modify, and this allows brand evolution (Brodie et al., 2002).
The vision, culture and management of the can influence the brand-building process, and managers should acknowledge its internal role. In this regard, the managers are to emphasize on building staff attitude and behavior towards brand building. Apparently, companies view branding from a financial perspective, and seek to find out the influence branding might have on profitability. The companies have also given their branding managers more responsibility to ensure the brand achieves the strategic objectives of the firm. This only shows the evolution of brand management; from the past where managers were not concerned to now where they show concern (Brodie et al., 2002).
From this point-of-view, the firms extract the financial brand value, and use the financial market value of the firm as the basis of assessing the brand equity. In the same context, the consumer-oriented approach, which 21st century firms use helps in measuring the consumer's reaction to a given brand. Apparently, the companies view brand in various perspectives, but all the same, brand is valued. Brand has the can influence the consumers, and this result to brand loyalty. In comparison, the 21st century has used some of the past concepts of branding.
The society is dynamic, and change is inevitable. Past, and present branding theories in place today, attempt to make it easier in understanding the concept of branding today. Theories in the past supplemented or contributed to the development of current branding theories. This suggests that it is likely that the future will rely on these theories to develop new theories. In this setting, it is imperative to have future studies to understand the market further. In order to predict the future of branding, it is important to look into the anticipated growth of society.
The society, today, has created stronger consumer and civil right movements, called for supervision of the firm's commitments, and experience fast flow of information. It is likely that future brands will not enjoy full advantage of their products. This is because companies will have to embrace corporate social responsibility. In addition, future firms will put an effort to achieve a citizen brand status by stressing CSR theories, and communicate their will to help the society. The objective is to achieve the desired brand identity to achieve sustainability. Therefore, every element that contributes to the building of the brand is essential, and although brand identity is difficult, and time consuming (Kapferer, 2008).
The idea to have influence in the business sector, and the need of competitive advantage, future brands should sacrifice to achieve the desired brand identity. In terms of branding management, there is an apparent radical change between the past and the present management of brands (Brodie et al., 2002). In the past, managers failed to align the brand to strategic goals, but in the current situation, branding has become the central focus. Branding managers are now having more responsibilities, and they are helping firms in strategic alignment. In the future, they will have to come up with different marketing strategies, to ensure the brand is managed appropriately.
Types of Branding
In reference to the current business setting, branding is an important marketing tool used by firms to stimulate brand recognition. Branding gives a product, service, place a personality and reputation. In addition, successful branding gives a company brand name, design, logo or other symbols, which helps the consumers to differentiate products from competitors, and the desired company.
The product enjoys the most common forms of branding. Product branding is common in almost every business. For instance, product branding is apparent in the many products seen in a supermarket, or retail stores. Successful product branding creates consumer preference, and this explains why consumers choose a brand over the other. In such a case, the brand has managed to realize a reputation (Kapferer, 2008). When one thinks of soft drinks, shoes, jeans, or other products it is possible there is a brand that one imagines. These are typical examples of product branding.
Personal branding is evident among athletes, public figures, and other celebrities. In this type of branding, one can see some sort of brand management, where the celebrities have managers to ensure they remain popular. Other celebrities remain popular by having agents, or relations. We also see some celebrities becoming associated with products bearing their names, or photos.
Corporate branding is the commonest, and companies are continuously striving to build a reputation in the market. The company has people in place who are monitoring the firm in a bid to protect the image. Currently, the management has focused on corporate branding because a poor management decision can lead to decline of the brand (Brodie et al., 2002). Unlike the past, corporate branding has become important, and firms have branding managers to ensure it achieves the firm's goals.
This type of branding refers to branding where the retailers brand their own products in their name. This is common in retail shops, and supermarkets, where the retailers are using labels or packaging materials that bear their name. The supermarkets and retailers manage their own brand, and in most cases, the products come at a cheaper price, when compared to other products from other companies.
Brand management refers to the process of maintaining, improving and upholding the brand so that its reputation achieves strategic objectives. Creating, executing and maintaining a successful brand is central to the firm's marketing strategy. However, to realize success in the same requires a strategic perspective. This is where management comes in to present concepts of brands, and subsequently communicate them to the market resulting in appropriate brand images, which reflect the brand identity. The management is responsible for developing a vision, which is inclusive of the brand value. Still, we have consumers who have the capacity to manage a brand in the sense of creating associations, images and perceiving usage cases (Kapferer, 2008).