Choosing Elements to Build Brand Equity

Posted by 17 February, 2008
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Chapter 4 examines the elements that marketers can use to identify and differentiate a brand. Names, logos, symbols, characters, slogans, URLs, jingles and packages all influence a company’s ability to build awareness and image for a brand and, consequently, have a direct impact on the degree of positive brand equity that can be established. Brand elements can be judged on the merits of their brand-building ability by isolating the element in a consumer survey and measuring consumers’ response to the brand based solely on the isolated element. If the consumers infer or assume a certain valued association or response, the element is said to contribute positively to brand equity.

Six general criteria should govern a firm’s choice of brand elements. First, an element should be memorable, or easy to recognize and recall. Second, an element should be meaningful, or descriptive, persuasive, inherently fun and interesting, and rich in visual and verbal imagery. Third, an element should be likeable to consumers, in an aesthetic sense and in an emotional sense. Fourth, an element should be transferable within and across product categories, and across geographical and cultural boundaries. Fifth, an element should be adaptable, or flexible and capable of being updated over time. Sixth, an element should be protectable, both legally and competitively.

Next, the chapter discusses the benefits and drawbacks inherent in the choice of each type of brand element. For example, selecting a familiar-sounding name for a brand would likely lead to high recallability, but recognition often requires brand names to be different, distinct, or unusual. Fictitious or coined names are often used to satisfy this criteria. Brand characters are beneficial because they typically aid awareness, reinforce key brand strengths, add elements of fun, excitement, humor, etc., and can be transferred across product categories. Consumer associations with a brand character can be so strong, however, that they actually dampen awareness by dominating other brand elements. Also, brand characters must be updated over time.

The chapter ends by discussing how brand elements can be “mixed and matched” for maximum equity building. Brand elements must be mixed to achieve different positioning objectives, for instance. It is also important to match brand elements by ensuring that they harbor similarities that reinforce some shared meaning. Taken together, the entire set of brand elements makes up the brand identity, which reflects the contribution of all the elements to awareness and image.

Brand Focus 4.0 discusses legal issues for branding. These include trademark protection from counterfeit and imitator brands, trademark issues with generic names, and trademark issues with packaging.

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