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Brand Management

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Brand Management (MKT624)
Lesson 11
Determination of attributes and benefits
To have your brand present its customers the right attributes and benefits, you have to first
determine what those attributes and benefits are that brands present and values they address.
The key to the whole process is clarity about the need to be satisfied.
You must not under-serve or over-serve the customers. In other words, the segment that you are
serving has to be fully aligned with the features and attributes that you envisage your brand to
carry. Under- or over-doing will let you unintentionally navigate the segmental territories not
meant for your offering.
Determination can come through one way and that is research. The objective is to compare
your brand with that of competitors and gauge the level of associations all evoke. The results of
the research will enable you to be specific about the features that you must create for your
brand and the benefits your brands must offer to your customers.
In the absence of this comparison, it is hard to formulate a sustainable competitive strategy ­ a
strategy that highlights the features and benefits and sets your brand apart from the rest of the
crowd. Refer to industry analysis and consider a couple of established competitors to draw the
right comparisons that can lead you through the competitive path with success.
Need-based segmentation research
It is good to get into segmentation research that should cover demographics as well as
psychographics to give the findings a true need-based dimension. Needs drive all the strategies
and always emerge as the most purpose-serving research basis. Right identification of needs
also offers the best alignment between strategies and associations that we are out to evoke on
part of the customers. It is here that we are able to determine the balance between under- or
over-serving the segment of population that is our target market. The following two examples
explain the phenomenon of the balance between under- or over-doing.
Example 1
A fast food restaurant should not start offering in the manner of a full-served fine
dinning restaurant, nor should it demote its offerings below the level of product profile
perceived by customers as authentic fast food.
Example 2
A 1300 cc car offering inside and outside temperature readings and dual air
conditioning is borrowing features from a sibling of a higher segment. A higher
segment bigger model not having the features (temperature reading and dual air
conditioner) deemed unnecessary for a 1300 cc sibling is under-serving its customers.
Population to be researched and relevant questions asked
The population to be researched should consist of company's present, past, and potential
customers and competitors' customers in relation to determining the levels of association with
the brand. Members of the trade (distributors, wholesalers, and retailers) who are category
influencers should also be included in the population.
The respondents should be approached with the objective of determining the right attributes
and benefits to be offered by the brand and values addressed. The responses, when put side by
side, for different brands will lead you through realistic mode of decisions for your brand.
Brand Management (MKT624)
The questions should revolve around the level of awareness about your brand versus
competition and strengths and weaknesses as respondents perceive in relation to your brand
versus competition. The series of questions should also take you through determining whether
respondents consider your brand up to their expectations and worthy of recommendation to
others! All questions should be asked in the simplest and direct form to have straightforward
and credible answers.
With no ambiguities of answers you should be able to gauge the levels of associations your
brand evokes vis-ŕ-vis competition.
Purpose served by asking the right questions
The objective of asking the questions is to precisely determine the level of associations your
brand has evoked. An even bigger objective is to see whether customers think your brand has
reached the pinnacle. If the answers to your questions are mostly "yes", then it is a testimony to
your hard work of identifying the right need, developing the right product, and making the right
branding moves. You must maintain your brand's position and further fortify it.
If the answers to your questions are mostly in negative - which it should not be ­ then you must
look into the reasons and make corrections wherever those are warranted. The typical questions
that you must ask yourself are the following:
·  Why is our brand not right on top?
·  Why is competition right on top?
·  What can you do to bring your brand right on top?
The answers to the above questions will be of comprehensive nature and will not allow you
escaping any shortcomings. Whether your company has the resources or not to come to grips
with the problems is another issue. The assumption here is that it is capable of handling all
major problems; otherwise it would not have undertaken the brand development process in the
first place.
Keys to developing associations
According to Scot Davis, the build up of brand value has to be an incremental process1.
·  No brand can get into the pinnacle without moving incrementally through the stages.
·  There has to be a complete alignment of associations all across the three stages. The
alignment can be achieved through the process discussed above, that is, identify the right
need for the right segment, have the target market perceive the benefits as the ones
desired by them, and make them believe that your brand addresses the values they hold
dear to themselves.
·  Make the whole process difficult to copy. This can be achieved by creating customer
value highly meaningful to customers.
The following example of Toyota Corolla is expressive enough about the levels of associations
and the alignment that exists among the three levels to the benefit of the brand and the
customers as well.
Features and Attributes
o Good styling
o Fair pricing
o Great value
o Spacious
o Looks of a bigger car
o Sturdy
Brand Management (MKT624)
Good consumption
Good resale value
Good quality
Widespread availability of inexpensive spares
Beliefs and Values
o Gives you confidence
o Friendly; makes you feel good and important
o Approval of neighbors, friends, and relatives
What is after the brand pinnacle?
Whether to stay within the same pyramid or go beyond it into a new one is defined by the
leader of the category. The leadership role comes with the power the brand has. It depends on
how high the leader wants to go within the same pyramid.
Most of the brands have the potential to ladder further up. It is here that business managers
have to decide whether to create higher standards of excellence within the same pyramid or go
beyond it with a new brand name by adding more attributes to existing products and create a
new identity altogether.
Is new category needed?
Companies choose to go into a new pyramid for two reasons. One, laddering up under the same
name may offer resistance from the customers. Two, a new identity under a different brand
name with endorsement from the same manufacturer can bring the company premium pricing
that may get subject to resistance under the existing brand name. This is why Toyota introduced
Lexus; Honda launched Acura, and Nissan Infinity. Lexus, Acura, and Infinity are all very
expensive cars that fall within pyramids different from those belonging originally to Toyota,
Honda, and Nissan. The new offerings came to the market with high premium on them.
What is important about the brand value pyramid is that the pinnacle has to be reached so that
the emotional value connection can be established with the consumer.
The second part of image is brand persona. Along with associations it
provides a complete understanding of the brand image. Brand managers
look at brands from the standpoint of human and other characteristics that
can be easily identified and understood.
The objective of the exercise is to personify your brand so that consumers
can express and associate themselves with the brand just as they associate
themselves with other persons.
Persona examples
·  Car. It is like you describe a car as rugged; you can describe a person from a certain area
as rugged.
·  Biscuits. You may describe a high-end expensive biscuit brand as "sophisticated" as
opposed to another you may want your fun-loving kids to take as "funny". People can be
described as sophisticated and funny.
Brand Management (MKT624)
SUV. A four-wheel vehicle can be personified as "warrior, tough, and no-nonsense" as
opposed to a family car having a "majestic and well-composed" personification. People
can be described in just about the way a four-wheel vehicle or a family car is described in
this example.
Need to create the right traits
The exercise of personification is meant to fully understand what personality traits you should
create for your product so that it is perceived by the consumers the same way. The objective
therefore is the same as it stands in developing associations. Customers must perceive your
product the way it is intended to be perceived.
In order to understand the traits of your brand right, you again have to carry out market
research and ask consumers questions to arrive at the right most personification.
Personality traits through research
A few questions can resemble the following:
·  Does the product look educated?
·  Does it look fashionable?
·  Is it urbane or a villager?
·  Is it babyish or mature-looking?
The most important factor is to ensure that your brand's persona must be matching with
consumers' perceptions. A baby shampoo has to be perceived as such not because you have
introduced it as baby shampoo, but because its personality traits are such that anyone taking a
look at the retail shelf can pinpoint the product is meant for babies.
When you combine your results with those of brand's associations, you come up with a
complete understanding of the valid and sustainable positioning of your brand. The right
position of the brand will evoke right image of the brand and serve as the focal point of all
strategies that will follow to make the brand a success.
Summary ­ lectures 10 and 11
Brand picture is based on brand image, which is a function of brand associations and brand's
persona. Customers develop associations with brands for the reasons of benefits that brands
offer and customer values that brands address. If a customer values being known for wearing
expensive clothes, then some brand has to address that value of the customers falling in that
Good brands have good features that get translated into benefits. Unless features get translated
into benefits, brands cannot have customers develop the desired associations. Associations have
different levels. From being able to address basic needs of customers, brands get on to offering
extra benefits and addressing certain emotional values. When a brand is just able to address the
basic needs, it is at the lowest level of associations. When a brand addresses emotional needs,
the level of association is at the highest ­ the brand value pyramid. All brands should strive to
get to that point and generate loyalty of the highest order. An important aspect of the brand
value pyramid is that it is an incremental process in which associations get strengthened
through different phases, not skipping any.
Brand managers have to identify customers' needs in the most realistic way to come up with
the compatible product features and then be able to develop the right, desired associations.
Brand's persona is the second part of the image. It is personification of the brand in human
terms. The tricky part is to determine the right traits of the product and then developing the
brand's personality in a way that customers perceive it the way it was intended to be perceived.
Brand Management (MKT624)
Glossary of terms:
Demographics: It is referred to as demographic segmentation. The market is divided into
groups on the basis of demographic variables such as age, family size, gender, income,
occupation, education, religion, race, generation, nationality, or social class1. It is generally
seen that consumer likes, dislikes, preferences, and usage rates have a lot of similarities within
the demographic groups and they are closely linked to demographic variables. Research
stemming out of a design based on demographics is generally more reliable and easier to
Psychographics: This refers to psychographic segmentation in which buyers are divided into
different groups on the basis of lifestyle and/or personality. People within the same
demographic group can exhibit very different psychographic profiles2. Example: A consumer
who drives a Mercedes-Benz may mostly like to use an inexpensive ball point pen and wear
blue jeans, whereas a consumer driving a Suzuki may always like to use an expensive pen and
wear designer clothes. The likes and preferences in this example have a relationship more with
lifestyle than demographic variables.
1. Philip Kotler: "Marketing Management ­ Analysis, Planning, Implementation, and
Control"; Ninth Edition, Prentice Hall (258)
2. Philip Kotler: "Marketing Management ­ Analysis, Planning, Implementation, and
Control"; Ninth Edition, Prentice Hall (259)
Suggested readings:
Scot M. Davis: "Brand Asset Management ­ Driving Profitable Growth through Your
Brands"; Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint (53-72)
Table of Contents:
  1. UNDERSTANDING BRANDS – INTRODUCTION:Functions of Brand Management, Sales forecast, Brand plan
  2. INTRODUCTION:Brand Value and Power, Generate Profits and Build Brand Equity
  3. BRAND MANIFESTATIONS/ FUNDAMENTALS:Brand identity, Communication, Differentiation
  4. BRAND MANIFESTATIONS/ FUNDAMENTALS:Layers/levels of brands, Commitment of top management
  5. BRAND CHALLENGES:Consumer Revolt, Media Cost and Fragmentation, Vision
  6. STRATEGIC BRAND MANAGEMENT:Setting Objectives, Crafting a Strategy, The Brand Mission
  7. BRAND VISION:Consensus among management, Vision Statement of a Fast Food Company, Glossary of terms
  8. BUILDING BRAND VISION:Seek senior management’s input, Determine the financial contribution gap
  9. BUILDING BRAND VISION:Collect industry data and create a brand vision starter, BRAND PICTURE,
  10. BRAND PICTURE:Brand Value Pyramid, Importance of being at pinnacle, From pinnacle to bottom
  11. BRAND PERSONA:Need-based segmentation research, Personality traits through research
  12. BRAND CONTRACT:The need to stay contemporary, Summary
  13. BRAND CONTRACT:How to create a brand contract?, Brand contract principles, Understand customers’ perspective
  14. BRAND CONTRACT:Translate into standards, Fulfill Good Promises, Uncover Bad Promises
  15. BRAND BASED CUSTOMER MODEL:Identify your competitors, Compare your brand with competition
  16. BRAND BASED CUSTOMER MODEL:POSITIONING, Product era, Image Era, An important factor
  17. POSITIONING:Strong Positioning, Understanding of components through an example
  18. POSITIONING:Clarity about target market, Clarity about point of difference
  19. POSITIONING – GUIDING PRINCIPLES:Uniqueness, Credibility, Fit
  20. POSITIONING – GUIDING PRINCIPLES:Communicating the actual positioning, Evaluation criteria, Coining the message
  21. BRAND EXTENSION:Leveraging, Leveraging, Line Extension in detail, Positive side of line extension
  22. LINE EXTENSION:Reaction to negative side of extensions, Immediate actions for better managing line extensions
  23. BRAND EXTENSION/ DIVERSIFICATION:Why extend/diversify the brand,
  24. POSITIONING – THE BASE OF EXTENSION:Extending your target market, Consistency with brand vision
  25. DEVELOPING THE MODEL OF BRAND EXTENSION:Limitations, Multi-brand portfolio, The question of portfolio size
  26. BRAND PORTFOLIO:Segment variance, Constraints, Developing the model – multi-brand portfolio
  27. BRAND ARCHITECTURE:Branding strategies, Drawbacks of the product brand strategy, The umbrella brand strategy
  28. BRAND ARCHITECTURE:Source brand strategy, Endorsing brand strategy, What strategy to choose?
  29. CHANNELS OF DISTRIBUTION:Components of channel performance, Value thru product benefits
  30. CREATING VALUE:Value thru cost-efficiency, Members’ relationship with brand, Power defined
  31. CO BRANDING:Bundling, Forms of communications, Advertising and Promotions
  32. CUSTOMER RESPONSE HIERARCHY:Brand-based strategy, Methods of appropriations
  33. ADVERTISING:Developing advertising, Major responsibilities
  34. ADVERTISING:Message Frequency and Customer Awareness, Message Reinforcement
  35. SALES PROMOTIONS:Involvement of sales staff, Effects of promotions, Duration should be short
  36. OTHER COMMUNICATION TOOLS:Public relations, Event marketing, Foundations of one-to-one relationship
  37. PRICING:Strong umbrella lets you charge premium, Factors that drive loyalty
  38. PRICING:Market-based pricing, Cost-based pricing
  39. RETURN ON BRAND INVESTMENT – ROBI:Brand dynamics, On the relevance dimension
  40. BRAND DYNAMICS:On the dimension of knowledge, The importance of measures
  41. BRAND – BASED ORGANIZATION:Benefits, Not just marketing but whole culture, Tools to effective communication
  42. SERVICE BRANDS:The difference, Hard side of service selling, Solutions
  43. BRAND PLANNING:Corporate strategy and brands, Brand chartering, Brand planning process
  44. BRAND PLANNING PROCESS:Driver for change (continued), Brand analysis
  45. BRAND PLAN:Objectives, Need, Source of volume, Media strategy, Management strategy