A brand takes the form of a symbolic construct created by a marketer to represent a collection of information about a product or group of products. This symbolic construct typically consists of a name, identifying mark, logo, visual images or symbols, or mental concepts which distinguishes the product or service. A brand often carries connotations of a product's "promise", the product or service’s point of difference among its competitors which makes it special and unique. Marketers attempt through a brand to give a product a "personality" or an "image". Thus, they hope to "brand", or burn, the image into the consumer's mind; that is, associate the image with the product's quality. Because of this, a brand can form an important element of an advertising theme: it serves as a quick way to show and tell consumers what a supplier has offered to the market.
Well known products acquire brand recognition. When a brand has accumulated a mass of positive sentiment among consumers, marketers say that its owner has acquired brand equity. A brand name comprises that part of a brand consisting of words or letters that humans can verbalize. A brand name that has acquired legal protection becomes a trademark.
Branding has become part of pop culture. Numerous products have a brand identity: from common table salt to designer clothes. Non-commercially, branding can also apply to the marketing of entities which supply ideas or promises rather than goods and services -- such as political parties or religious organizations.
Consumers as a group may look on the brand as an important aspect of a product, and it can also add value to a product or service. It carries the reputation of a product or company. A branded laundry detergent may sell twice as much product as a store-brand detergent. Although the two products may resemble each other closely in almost every other respect, people have learned to regard the branded product as superior, and to believe that because it costs more it offers better quality.
Advertising spokespersons have also became part of some brands, for example: Mr. Whipple of Charmin toilet tissue and Tony the Tiger of Kellogg’s.
Brands originated with the 19th-century advent of packaged goods. Industrialization moved the production of many household items, such as soap, from local communities to centralized factories. These factories, cursed with mass-produced goods, needed to sell their products in a wider market, to a customer base familiar only with local goods. It quickly became apparent that a generic package of soap had difficulty competing with familiar, local products. The packaged goods manufacturers needed to convince the market that the public could place just as much trust in the non-local product.
Many brands of that era, such as Uncle Ben's rice and Kellogg's breakfast cereal furnish illustrations of the problem. The manufacturers wanted their products to appear and feel as familiar as the local farmers' produce. From there, with the help of advertising, manufacturers quickly learned to associate other kinds of brand values, such as youthfulness, fun or luxury, with their products. This kickstarted the practice we now know as "branding".
Examples of prominent brand names
The 2001 ranking of the 100 most valuable brands worldwide by Business Week magazine contained 62 American, 30 European, and 6 Japanese brands.
Brands (United States):
- Apple (computer)
- Boeing (aerospace)
- Coca-Cola (soft drink)
- Columbia Records (recorded sound - since 1988 owned by Sony)
- Ford Motor Company (automobiles)
- Hershey's (chocolate)
- McDonald's (fast food restaurant)
- Microsoft (software)
- The Gap (clothing)
- BP (petrol - UK)
- BRIO (toys - Sweden)
- Cadbury (chocolate- UK)
- Ferrari (automobile - Italy)
- Ikea (furniture - Sweden)
- Lego (toys - Denmark)
- Mercedes-Benz (automobile - Germany)
- Nestlé (food - Switzerland)
- Nokia (cell phones - Finland)
- Orangina (soft drink)
- Telstra (telecommunications)
- Qantas (airline)
- Woolworth's (store chain)
- Rip Curl (surf/clothing)
- Myer (department store)
Criticism of Branding Concepts
Much criticism has been leveled against the concept and implementation of brands, much of it associated with the "antiglobalization" movement. One of the more well developed attacks of branding is included in Naomi Klein's book, No Logo. The book describes how corporations' brands serve as structures for corporations to hide behind, and that such global problems as sweatshop labor and environmental degredation have been permitted and exacerbated by Branding.
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