This type of brand goal relates to the dominance of a brand within its chosen market; it is often referred to as simply the market share, but is more than this. It can also be the total dominance that a brand exerts over the mind of consumer, trade and media. Dominance in a market can be developed through maintaining a rigorous innovation program that keeps the brand at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Kellogg’s is continually developing new technologies to enhance the taste of its products in order to deliver improvements to the core cognitive need of a great-tasting cereal.
This may be a new toasting process to add crispness to its rice, or a new type of paper for the cereal bag to retain freshness. Everything it does is focused on enhancing the taste experience of eating Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Coco Pops . It never forgets that it is in the taste business, not the rice business, or the packaging business or the breakfast business. Of course all of these things are important and add value to the brand in a crowded competitive market; but they cannot be used to build the brand.
Traditionally, high brand weight has always been a core goal for business, especially if market share exceeds 40 per cent. Many Japanese companies followed this route during the 1980s, managing their business as large-volume, low-margin operations. This often resulted in high brand weight, which could then be used to manage markets as well as their brand, exerting influence over smaller competitors. Once a high brand weight is achieved, it is possible to increase R&D spend and innovation, while slowly increasing prices and margins to accompany this growth. It can also cause complacency in a business, as the market looks secure.
Often it is new entrants that quickly reduce the brand weight of a brand that does not continuously invest. Many marketing directors still specify a number one or two market share position as a critical measure of a brand’s performance. Brand length Achieving brand length focuses on increasing the flexibility of a brand across market categories and segments. Brands achieve this by displaying a power of expertise, not in technology but in their understanding of the consumer’s mind. The Disney brand expresses family entertainment in all its film productions, theme parks, T-shirts, books, games and toys.
The central cognitive need is clearly upheld in all these items, even though they represent very different business categories that other suppliers would not dare to cross. Each item also has a series of added value brand dimensions, but they succeed because the core brand proposition remains clear and fulfils the basic need for a large proportion of the consumer population. Brands that achieve significant brand length do so by marking out a specific territory in the mind of the consumer and retaining that position across all their activities.
They operate a basic brand promise that can be applied to a variety of categories via a franchise with the consumer. They are the ultimate lifestyle brands that people are attracted to because they fit their needs and desires in one category, but, once satisfied, continue to purchase the brand in other categories, often unrelated in the traditional sense. The thing that relates the in mind of the consumer is that they deliver the same cognitive brand promise in all their guises.
Whether this is a Disney baseball cap, a Disney soft drink , a Disney holiday or a Disney movie, the core benefit is reinforced by the Disney brand promise and itself reinforces the Disney-ness of the product brand expression. In the UK, the traditional world of banking has seen supermarket entrants Tesco and department store Marks&Spencer vying for the consumer’s financial capital. Large-scale free Internet service providers have also come from the unlikely sources of NTL, Dixons the high street retailer and the Virgin group.
Some of these have taken advantage of several consumers reports that highlight the fact that more people trust Sainsbury’s and Tesco than the government, the police or the high street banks. This is a clear indication of the power of a brand identity to convey messages to consumers and retain their trust, perhaps as a result of a mass faith in liberal market economics. Alternatively, it could emphasize the continuing mediation of identities and the reliance of consumers on those mediated identities to make choices about their lives, family and finances.
The message for governments and institutions is that they must at least match these high levels of seductive media if they are to re-establish their standing and authority with the consumer. When a brand tries to encompass a wide range of business categories it may fail to achieve significant profitability because at one point the brand promise will not stretch far enough. As this occurs, the dilution effect on the core brand and product combinations will also reduce the validity of the brand offer. Each new brand extensions, like any stretch, must be carefully planned and executed impeccably if it is to succeed.
The bond of trust with the consumer is the critical dimension to any brand proposition; once broken it is difficult or impossible to retrieve. If you only say one thing with a brand message, it must be to convey the trust that the consumer needs to have in a product or service to buy in the first place. If there is insufficient trust projected by the brand, the consumer may never know just how good the product or service is. Brand power Brand power is the strength of an individual or business to influence others, in this case the consumer.
These companies have attained a brand fortress for themselves where they can heavily influence a usually intensely loyal customer base. The old adage about football can be rephrased here for power brands: ” Branding is not a matter of life and death, it is much more important than that”. Typically, consumers of power brands are acolytes and can be relied on to generate a formidable word-of-mouth campaign for the power brand. Brand power is often described as customer loyalty, but it goes beyond that with a quasi-religious connection between the consumer and the brand.
It forms a dialogue that reflects a strong commitment from both sides to developing an enduring relationship. Young start-up businesses often have this type of brand dimension, but many quickly lose it as they become out of touch with their core consumer benefit. Once the corporate regulation and processes take over in a business, it becomes more difficult to retain the human characteristics that first attracted a large number of consumers. Brands like Apple, Nike and the BBC all retain the strong brand power that connects the business closely with consumer in a symbiotic relationship.
Obviously, fashion-oriented brands are more likely to receive this kind of attention, but successful companies from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to The Body Shop cosmetics chain strong brand power is the depth of emotional attachment that a brand creates with consumer. This goes beyond the implicit cognitive benefits to provide an explicit emotional benefit that can be highly distinctive for particular brands. Brand breadth Another strategic dimension for a brand is to develop a consumer franchise that spans the widest possible range of consumer groups.
This may seem ideal, since it maximizes the selling opportunity to as many people as possible, but it is difficult to achieve, especially when the age, sex, class and other socio-economic dimensions create a huge diversity of needs and expectations. There are not many brands that are clever enough to satisfy across these target group without diluting their brand is perceived to be a appropriate for one target group, rather than inclusive for other groups. The problem is that try to attract as many people as possible the message must be inclusive and this often results in a bland message.
The result is a brand that is inoffensive to most people, but fails actually to attract anyone. Clearly, large businesses in consumer electronics, retailing and service industries need huge consumer to be viable, but in a c competitive environment they also need to retain distinctiveness for their proposition. A brand that has successfully generated powerful propositions as well as wide consumer franchise is Coca-Cola, the world’s most recognized brand name, drunk by small children in developing countries and CEOs in the world’s capitals.
McDonald’s, Kodak, Visa and Microsoft have also achieved this kind of brand breadth. Their success is due to retaining a distinctive propositions compared with their competitors, while offering an inclusive attitude towards all consumer groups. Strategic cognitive filters To help understand what kind of unmet core need the business fulfils, it is worth understanding some of the filters that brands express to consumers. These include financial, gender and age filters. By examining the core unmet need through these cognitive filters, it is possible to clarify the brand proposition.
There are many more filters that can be used, depending on the nature of the market, your brand and the consumer target group; these are simply examples. The cognitive financial filter In the westernized world it is not surprising that one of the most basic brand dimensions is a financial filter. Free market economies encourage and enable brands to be successful based on the price that the consumer is willing to pay for the brand (a price above any notional commodity price). This is the fundamental advantage of a strong band: an ability to generate extra revenue above that of competitors and the production/ distribution costs.
The chosen price should therefore best represent that enhanced proposition, or risk being undervalued in the marketplace. For consumers, the financial filter is not fixed over time but only at a single moment in time, the point of purchase ; when economic capital (cash) is exchanged for brand capital (identity). The market can always be sub divided into many financial segments, whether coverage is across the whole market or simply a small niche. The brand may be a bargain own label, or a mid-priced value pack, or a premium top of the line product or service.
This structuring of the market helps consumers to filter out the choices that are unavailable or undesirable for them. They use prices as a key guide to which part of the market they fit into, and it acts as a starting point for a brand manager who is trying to reposition the brand. This structuring usually takes place as bands of prices that follow each other up the financial scale, sometimes overlapping. Brands at the bottom of the band may be considered to offer similar benefits but at a slightly lower price and therefore better value.
Brands at the top of the band may be considered to offer better quality but at an inflated price. The brand manager needs to know which competitors fall above and below them in order to make tactical use of the brand proposition. Most brands use sub-brands or brand extensions to increase the bandwidth of their business revenues. The Giorgio Armani brand occupies the luxury end of the clothing market and it carefully uses a financial filter to define its target consumers. There is also the Emporio Armani brand, which tailors itself to a lower financial target.
Still lower on the financial scale are the Armani Exchange and Armani Jeans brands that cater to the mass market. Brand managers can use the financial filter to decrease or increase the bandwidth pf potential consumers, because that bandwidth increases as the price decreases, and vice versa. The Cognitive Gender Filter An important question to be answered is : What gender is the brand proposition? It could be masculine, feminine or universal. The result of choosing one of these categories will dictate a large proportion of the attracted consumer group.
It can also be used to reflect a known majority market , or reposition a brand into a new market. The gender filter of a brand is often associated with the gender-related nature of the goods or services, but many brands can have a brand gender unrelated to these. The car company Renault and the company Nescafe have a feminine bias that can be used to filter target consumers. The gender filter helps consumers to structure their choices when they come to purchase these goods. The use of trans-gender branding has been obvious for the past years, where CK One led the field of fashion brands to propose dual-use fragrances.
The Cognitive Age Filter Many brands want to target specific age groups and this will require appropriate brand personalities. The latest tendencies show that using ‘grey’ targets instead of white and black ones is more and more common. There are many examples of brands that have deliberately tried to filter consumers on the basis of age, after that finding out that their true consumer is typically from a different age category. The Renault Twingo was targeted at young people, but it was bought by different types of users of varying ages.
They were all attracted by its interesting styling. My First Sony, the sub-brand of Sony is the quintessential baby brand and it has encouraged many brands such as Gap Kids. The My First Sony uses sophisticated images to sell both to the young themselves and to their parents. The products have a youthful design and the quality is identical to the products for adults. By this means Sony draws a significant advantage because it captures the consumer early, promising a lifetime of loyalty. By using a high degree of quality Sony creates a powerful barrier against inferior brands.
As a consequence, young consumers treat the Sony quality as the first standard by which all other products are judged, because if the brand lets consumers down they might never use that product again. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Abraham Maslow, the behaviorist, developed a useful framework for understanding the needs of the human needs in terms of cognitive and emotional requirements. The simplicity of the pyramid generates an immediate understanding of the needs of the consumers, from the core psychological needs to the higher needs of self actualization.