Monday, 21 April 2014

BRANDING 101

The product branding of a company is the totality of customer experience with it and its products or services. It is the overall dialogue that takes place between the company and customers when a purchase and use of its products or services is made,
This dialogue is represented in its use of logos,mission statements,slogans,pay-offs,taglines,advertising,communications(public relations,publicity);the product itself and packaging,merchandising,etc,etc.

Companies such as Cocacola have over the years dialogued so effectively with their customers,to the extent the Cocacola name has become synynmous with the fizzy drink industry,thus developing a folksy relationship with its billions of customers in a way unimaginable round the world.
The Xerox company and DHL, all have developed along this brand trajectory. Photocopying has become in everyday lexicon,simply Xeroxing a copy of document and instead of sending a document by courier, your are likely to hear,"send it by DHL",even when it may be sent by United Parcel Service or any other courier company competing with the brand.Iconic brands enter our everyday lexicon and endure through time,basically because of the halo effect built around them.And what is meant by the halo effect?

Creating a brand halo is about building around a product an association that is more ethereal than real,through the play on emotion,perception,innovation and communication.And in building attitudes towards a product,you generate emotions in two specific areas: 1) actual product or service and 2) customer experience of the totality of the company's operations;in other words,all the activities performed towards bringing a product or service to customers.

Brand halo is created through the play on emotions,perception,innovation and communication as earlier stated;all four must play on the five senses of sight,sound,smell,taste and touch.Creating an emotional atmosphere for the brand must involve therefore,appealing to all the senses,requiring the use of a media mix,for example,television for creating the appeal to sight(images with strong colors,aesthetics,surround effects) and sound that compels a customer wanting to taste or touch the product.Television has the ability to create that sense of urgency to induce trial in a well executed advertising compaign;while the outdoor medium will remind of what was seen on television;newspaper will give more technical details of the product such as automobiles,equipment,packaged holidays and tours,holiday destinations,and many more.

The human emotional make up is built on logic cum rationality as well as emotions.Whereas logic appeals to rationality,logical analysis,consciousness and awareness,which all occupy, the left compartment of the pathway in the brain, the emotional side appeals to creativity,imagination,impulsiveness as well as reflectiveness.This dwells on the right compartment of the brain.To be sure,rationality is lineal;processes data one piece at a time when stimulated.Emotionality on the other hand,takes the parallel path in data processing.James Hammond,author of "Branding Your Business",states that people buy on emotion and justify with reason.He further suggests that companies build strong brands when their customer's experiences exceed already determined expectations,which in turn evokes strong memories when they go back for repeat purchases.Exceeding customer expectations the first time,in my view is like a bank deposit of favourable images of a brand which a company accumulates when customers repeat their dialogue with the company's product or service.

For example,in automobile advertising,observe how campaign themes appeal to the soft side,namely emotions through the emphasis on design, exquisite interiors,class and the fulfilment of maslowian emotional needs of self-esteem and actualization-the acquisition of expensive "toys".The logic rationality side dwells on the type of wheels;is it alloy or ordinary?(Alloy remember commands more money and is class);engine capacity;emphasis is also on performance(torque) and the economics of fuel consumption;thus suggesting the emotional duality of the human make-up psychologically,and his behaviour as a consumer.
                              
Building the bank deposit of customer expectation is through brand advertising of a company's product or service over the long term,which appeals to the emotions of the customer.Branding and its adjunct marketing activity must be seen as an investment,the same way finance will see investment in new machinery or the building up of inventory.
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