Brand management has only developed into an interesting field of research in recent years and is predominantly practiced by large corporations. To understand the practice of brand management, it is first necessary to consider the brand in its own right.
The origin of brands and the process of branding go back thousands of years. Brands represent a long-term feature of the cultural development of mankind and appear in various ideological and institutional contexts. For over a thousand years, brands have represented cultural symbols and carriers of market growth.
Beyond the significant role of the brand in the past, it has also established itself in today's age as one of the most valuable assets within a company. Not only do companies with luxury products, such as Gucci or Louis Vuitton, for example, benefit from their brand but also everyday products, such as Coca-Cola or Zara, for example, see their brand as the company's most valuable asset. This is because customers often trust the brand when buying products and therefore choose the trusted brand rather than the unknown brand. For this reason, companies are dependent on improving brand value within the concept of brand management.
How to build a strong brand
A successful and strong brand consists of three different fundamentals that must be established when the brand is created. First, the brand identity must be defined so that the brand image and brand personality can then be built up. The further development, monitoring and maintenance of the three brand concepts over time are important elements in brand management, which is why they are discussed in more detail below.
- Brand identity: To create a successful and strong brand, it is important to define a clear brand identity at the beginning – that is, to clarify what the brand is. This is composed of different information related to the brand, such as the name of the brand, the logo that symbolizes the brand, the age of the brand, the country of origin of the brand and the product or service offering of the brand. Brand identity is the foundation on which brand image and brand personality are based.
- Brand image: Brand image refers to the consumer's view of the brand – in other words, how the customer perceives the brand or what comes to mind when the customer thinks of the brand. This includes any form of positive or negative association that the customer has with the brand. Companies can shape the image of the brand by formulating value propositions and influencing brand perception as part of brand management.
- Brand personality: Brand personality results from the interactions that customers experience with the brand. For example, through the perception of the brand in stores, advertising of the brand or the typical customer groups that buy this brand. Through this, characteristics are formed over time that can be assigned to the brand and thus the brand personality – in other words, what kind of personality this brand is.
Within the concept of brand management, the three elements of a brand can be strategically coordinated to support the positive development of a brand.
Differences between brand management and branding
An important process in relation to the brand is branding, which will be distinguished from brand management below. Branding is about building the brand and creating brand equity from the ground up. Before a brand is formed, various processes are pursued as part of branding in order to give the brand identity and also make it appear attractive to the outside world as part of the brand image. Brand management, on the other hand, pursues processes that strengthen the brand value after brand creation. These processes are described in more detail below.
Brand management describes various strategies that can be used to control the processes surrounding a brand. These processes include, for example, the monitoring and maintenance of a brand, but the focus here is on strengthening a brand over time. The process of brand strengthening leads to maintaining the reputation of a brand or improving it in the future by creating added brand value. For this purpose, it is important to monitor the development of the brand reputation and to observe the position of the brand so that comparative analyses can subsequently be made. Based on this, an adjustment to brand strategy can be made to improve customer perception of the brand in terms of brand awareness, brand value and brand loyalty. Brand management aims to increase or maintain brand value in the future through the appropriate brand strategy.
A brand is composed of brand identity, brand image and brand personality. To give a brand value, these three components are defined as part of the branding process. Brand management forms the bridge between the brand and branding and helps to strengthen the brand within the framework of various processes. Examples of strengthening the brand as part of brand management include:
- the design of a website for the brand to increase brand visibility
- creating brand profiles on social media to strengthen positive brand reputation
- finding key advertising partners on social media to increase brand awareness
- coordinating the brand's packaging design to influence customer perceptions
Brand management is a very important part of companies increasing brand value. As the brand is one of the most significant assets of companies, it is also essential in the future to firmly integrate brand management into the corporate structures and to follow the processes for monitoring and maintaining the brand.
Examples of Brand management
- Developing a Brand Strategy: This involves crafting a mission statement and defining the desired attributes, values, and benefits associated with a brand, as well as creating a plan for achieving those goals.
- Brand Positioning: This involves understanding how a brand is perceived in the marketplace relative to its competitors and developing strategies to ensure that the brand stands out in a crowded landscape.
- Enhancing Brand Image: This is the process of creating and maintaining a positive, consistent, and recognizable image for the brand. This can involve advertising, public relations, and social media marketing.
- Implementing Brand Tactics: This involves executing the strategies set forth in the brand strategy by creating campaigns, creating product packaging, and developing promotional materials.
- Measuring Brand Performance: This involves tracking and evaluating the performance of the brand over time to ensure that it is meeting the goals set forth in the brand strategy. This can involve tracking sales, market share, customer loyalty, and customer feedback.
Advantages of Brand management
A brand is an intangible asset that is built over time, and well-managed brands can bring significant benefits to companies. Brand management is the process of managing the perception and reputation of a brand to increase its value and distinguish it from competitors. Brand management includes activities such as product design, pricing, distribution, advertising, and customer service. Some of the key advantages of brand management include:
- Increased Sales: A well-managed brand can help a company to increase sales and stand out from the competition. It can help to create a positive first impression among potential customers, which can lead to increased sales.
- Improved Customer Loyalty: Brand management can help build customer loyalty and trust, which can lead to repeat purchases. Customers who feel strongly about a brand are more likely to become loyal to it and recommend it to others.
- Enhanced Brand Equity: Brand management can help a company to create a positive brand image, which can lead to enhanced brand equity. This can help a company to charge premium prices for their products and services and increase their market share.
- Increased Brand Recognition and Awareness: Brand management can help to increase the recognition and awareness of a brand, which can lead to increased customer loyalty. It can help to create a strong presence in the market and drive customer engagement.
Limitations of Brand management
Brand management is an important tool for companies to build up their brand identity, strengthen customer loyalty, and increase profits. However, there are some limitations that should be taken into consideration when it comes to brand management. These include:
- Limited Reach: Brand management requires a large budget and can be expensive to implement. This limits the ability to reach a wide audience, which can be a disadvantage for smaller businesses.
- Lack of Personalization: Brand management is a generic approach and does not allow for individual customization. This can be a major disadvantage for companies that want to differentiate themselves from the competition.
- Short-Term Focus: Brand management is often focused on short-term gains, such as boosting sales in the short-term. This can be problematic for businesses that are looking to build long-term relationships with customers.
- Difficulty Measuring Results: It can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of brand management as results may not be immediately visible. This can make it difficult to track the progress of the brand management efforts.
- Lack of Creative Freedom: Brand management is often restricted to a certain set of rules and guidelines, which can limit the creativity of the team. This can be a disadvantage for companies that want to take their brand in a new direction.
Brand management is a complex practice, which involves more than just creating a logo or slogan. Although brand management has been traditionally practiced by large corporations, there are a variety of other approaches that can be used to manage brands. These include:
- Brand positioning: This involves developing a unique brand identity that communicates the company's values, mission, and positioning within the market. This helps to differentiate the company from its competitors and establish a recognizable brand image.
- Brand loyalty: This refers to the ongoing relationship between the company and its customers. It involves developing a loyal customer base by offering quality products and services and providing excellent customer service.
- Brand communication: This involves creating compelling messages that help to engage customers and build relationships. This is done through a variety of channels, such as social media, advertisements, and events.
- Brand evaluation: This involves monitoring and analyzing customer feedback in order to identify areas for improvement and ensure the brand is meeting its goals.
In summary, brand management involves a variety of approaches to ensure the brand is able to differentiate itself from the competition, engage customers, build relationships, and grow. Each of these approaches should be considered when managing a brand to ensure it is successful.
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- Wengrow, D. (2008). Prehistories of commodity branding. Current Anthropology, 49(1), 7-34.
Author: Andrea Adkins