A brand is a unique name, logo, design, symbol, slogan or any attribute that clearly identifies one product or service as distinctly different from those of all other competitors. In marketing contexts a brand is a promise of quality and uniqueness; it acts as a guarantee that the target audience will experience a superior product or service. It is often associated with a company’s reputation in the market. A brand name can be a word or a phrase. In a corporate setting a brand may be an overall image or symbol, a design or a package of services or goods.
The most important factors that affect brand perception are: (a) brand image; (b) benefits the consumer obtains from using the product or service; (c) the perceived cost of using the product or service. Research has shown that consumers give higher weights to brand images than to financial benefits. Brand image is also influenced by personal attributes such as perceived authority, perceived reliability, perceived quality, perceived benefit, and brand loyalty. A well-designed brand provides consumers with the feeling of ownership and a sense of investment in the brand, which in turn can motivate them to participate in a particular purchase or not. Brand equity results from a balance between a firm’s investments in its brand assets and its willingness to foster and develop brand equity through various promotional, advertising and distribution activities.
The three components of brand equity – name, visual design and performance – are interrelated but important for each to be dominant in its respective category. A strong brand name draws consumers to it and inspires a level of loyalty from buyers to acquire that brand or at least to appreciate it. A visual design that is consistent and coherent and that effectively camouflages flaws and surfaces positive attributes builds trust among customers and helps to build a positive perception of the brand. A company’s performance usually gauges its brand value. Thus, good performance that creates the perception of worthiness of the brand leads to high brand value.
It seems ironic that one of the beverages most closely associated with high social status and luxury is also high in carbonated content, relatively low in calories and with a flavor that some say may even be sweet. However, coca-cola did not grow into a brand name but became famous through association with the Brazilian soccer team. Unlike brands that are associated with sport, where marketing is primarily directed toward the sports teams, coca-cola was promoted as a beverage for general consumption. Its wide appeal and relatively inexpensive price provided it an opportunity to penetrate markets that were previously inaccessible. Its success initiated a new phase of branding where brand names were established for general use.
Brand identity is rooted in brand values, goals, ambitions and strategies. The brand elements selected for each company are intended to create an overall impression of the company among the target audience. The brand identity thus plays a key role in the creation of a distinctive corporate personality. However, it is not enough to establish a brand identity on its own; it should be balanced and coherent so as to be appealing to the right mix of customers.
While there are several important decisions to make while developing a brand name, the first priority must be to select a strong brand name. Some of the factors to be considered include e.g. if the brand name should emphasize the benefits of the product or service, the target audience, whether the brand name needs to resonate with current or future promotional efforts and whether the brand name should be iconic. The last factor, i.e., whether the brand name should be unique, requires a careful process of research to identify characteristics of a brand name that sets it apart from similar products or services. A unique brand name can be developed through innovation, extensive market research, analysis, and creative innovation.