Monday, September 8, 2008

When Branding is All about Appeal

Catchy jingles, fancy packaging and captivating slogans give brands their appeal.

By Cambridge Who’s Who Contributing Author Susan Gosine

When I was a young child, I enjoyed listening to catchy product jingles. Sometimes I would jerk myself awake just so that I could hum along. When I went to the supermarket, I’d zero in on one of the brands I was familiar with and insist on only having that one. With the product clutched in my hands like a prize, I felt like I’d been visited by Santa Claus on Christmas morning.
More than three decades later, the melodies of popular jingles still chime inside my head, and I find myself reaching eagerly for the products associated with them while shopping. But it’s not just about the jingle; it’s about the brands that the jingles promote and the perception that the featured products are really the best of the lot. Such is the power of branding: it fosters an automatic acceptance of a product or service that, by the consumer’s deduction, surpasses all others.

Branding can be as effective as a dollar sale or as ineffective as cold soup in a blizzard. It’s a powerful force that influences behavior and attitude and compels consumers to pay exorbitant prices to possess the related product. It can boost or cripple a company, product or service. When thinking of branding one has to consider what appeals to consumers’ pockets, minds and egos. Branding, then, can be easily confused with marketing and advertising.

So, what exactly is branding?

In order to understand the concept of branding one must first learn what a brand is. While there are many different definitions of a brand, Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as, “a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.” The American Marketing Association classifies it as “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” It further states that “the legal term for brand is trademark,” and that “a brand may identify one item, a family of items or all items of that seller.” If used to describe a firm as a whole the preferred term is trade name. Thus, a brand can be a name, a logo, image, idea, design, slogan or jingle, owned by the company or person that conceives it.

Branding creates the foundation needed to market a brand, get it recognized and increase its profitability. Advertisers use the name, idea, logo, design and image associated with the chosen brand to formulate advertisements to convince the target audience that the product or service is the only solution that meets its needs. Branding, therefore, is designed to capture the imagination and to influence and convince consumers of their need to purchase a particular product or service. Symbols, logos, slogans and jingles are powerful branding tools. They help to assert a product or service’s position in the marketplace. Many companies and products have become household names through branding.

Philip Kotler describes branding as “a seller’s promise to deliver a specific set of features, benefits and services consistently to the buyers.” Branding, then, is only truly effective when it begins to influence consumer behavior, taste, choice and spending habits. Sometimes branding can take several years before it creates a noticeable impact in people’s psyche. This is particularly true in today’s competitive marketplace where several brands exist for each product.

In this age of technological advancement, branding holds its own on the Internet by commanding a great deal of online commerce and attention. Compelling slogans, blinking logos and mesmerizing images grace countless websites in an attempt to provoke visitors to purchase “sought after” products and services. However, branding is not truly successful until a consumer reaches casually into his pocket and purchases a product based on its packaging and appeal alone. When branding rakes in the money, that’s when it’s hard at work.