Table of Contents
Brand Value Chain:
1 Establish a strong brand building culture:
2 Build a holistic brand identity:
3 Harness new opportunities to connect with customers:
4 Retain the brand core while staying relevant:
5 Clarity of strategy and brand vision:
6 Balance local and global elements in the brand program:
The branding consultancy Interbrand produces a yearly ranking of the 100 Best Global Brands. To be considered, “ a brand must be truly global, having successfully transcended geographic and cultural boundaries. It will have expanded across the established economic centers of the world and have entered the major markets of the future. ” (Interbrand, 2016:151).
Interbrand’s valuations have three key components: an analysis of the financial performance of the branded products or services (Financial Return), of the role the brand plays in purchase decisions (Role of Brand), and of the brand’s ability to create loyalty and, therefore, sustainable demand and profit (Brand Strength) (Interbrand, 2016).
This paper provides suggestions on how to become one of the 100 Best Global Brands. The structure of the analysis and argumentation is based on Keller’s Brand Resonance Model (2013, see Figure 1) and the Brand Value Chain (Keller and Lehmann, 2003). Notions from Keller’s dimensions of brand knowledge (1993), Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism (2012) and Aaker’s conceptualisation of strong brands (1996) buttress the argumentation.
Keller (2013) employs a consumer perspective on brand equity. Customer Based Brand Equity (CBBE) arises from differences in consumer responses. Consumers’ differential responses are reflected in perceptions, preferences and behaviour related to all aspects of brand marketing including choice of a brand. These differences in response are a result of consumers’ brand knowledge. In Keller (1993) conceptualises brand knowledge as an associative memory model which contains two main components, brand awareness and brand image. A brand knowledge that elicits differential responses includes favourable, strong and unique brand associations.
The Brand Resonance Model views brand building as four ascending steps that establish six brand
building blocks. To build significant brand equity, a brand must reach the top of the pyramid.
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Figure 1: Subdimensions of Brand Building Blocks
Source: Keller (2013)
Research has shown that consumers consider only a few brands for purchase (Baker et al., 1986; Nedungadi, 1990). Therefore, building brand associations with the category and brand awareness — the strength of a brand’s presence in consumers’ minds (Aaker, 1996) — is an important first step to get into customer’s consideration set (Keller, 1993).
Depth of brand awareness measures how likely it is that a brand element comes to customer’s mind. A study (Hoyer and Brown, 1990) revealed that consumers instinctively prefer brands that they remember to those that are not familiar. This even holds true when the known brand was rated inferior to the unfamiliar one in previous blind taste tests. Thus, a strong brand recognition appears to be positively correlated with a high Role of Brand.
However, as shown in the graveyard model (Aaker, 1996), high recognition is not sufficient. Customers may know about a brand but it will not come to mind in a purchase decision due to weak brand recall. Hence, high brand recall will further contribute to increase Role of Brand.
Breadth of awareness measures the range of purchase and usage situations in which the brand comes to mind. Keller (2013) argues that many brands are forgotten in possible usage situations. Therefore, increasing breadth of awareness can drive sales volume, thus Financial Return.
Aaker (1996) has pointed out that the information overload that consumers face necessitates considerable resources to achieve awareness. Hence, firms should divest underperforming brands to concentrate resources. By doing so, Nestlé (#52) has grown seven percent brand value (Interbrand, 2016).
Further, communication outside traditional channels can be a cost effective means to get customers’ attention (Keller, 1993). For example, Nissan (#49) expanded its brand awareness by using the Periscope app to live stream the unveiling of its 2016 Nissan Maxima (Interbrand, 2016).
According to Keller (2013), choosing memorable, likeable and meaningful brand elements can strongly aid to create brand recall. KFC (#75) forges a strong category link through its name. The “finger lickin’ good” slogan, the distinctive paper bucket, and the well recognised character “The Colonel” create awareness (ibid).
Brand performance describes how well the product or service meets customers’ functional needs and is a prerequisite for successful marketing (Keller, 2013). This is well illustrated by BlackBerry, whose failure to achieve product performance eventually led to its disappearance from Interbrand’s ranking in 2013 (Lee et al., 2015).
Brand performance is also a major prerequisite of success when entering foreign markets. KFC and McDonald’s have successfully entered many global markets. For example, in China, KFC adapted its menu to the local tastes by offering spicy chicken, soy milk drinks, wraps with local spices, and fish and shrimp burgers (Keller, 2013). Similarly, McDonald’s offers salmon burgers in Norway and shrimp burgers in Japan (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016).
Studies have evidenced that perceived quality is the most important variable for return on investment (Jacobson and Aaker, 1987; Anderson et al., 1994) and also influences stock return (Aaker and Jacobson, 1994). Therefore, it can be argued that achieving a high brand performance will help companies to score high on Financial Return.
However, according to Aaker (1996), value propositions that are purely based on functional benefits have considerable limitations. In reality, consumers may be more influenced by less functional benefits such as style and status. A product attribute based identity fails to differentiate, if all brands are perceived to be adequate on a dimension. For example, many cold beverages are perceived as refreshing. Therefore, Coca-Cola (#3) differentiates itself through the emotional appeal of open happiness. Also, a product attribute based identity is relatively easy to copy, provides a weak basis for loyalty, and reduces strategic flexibility (ibid). Aaker (1996) suggests two ways to overcome these limitations. A brand can expand the identity, by considering organisational associations, brand personality and the brand as a symbol. Another option is to expand the value proposition by complementing functional benefits with emotional and self-expressive ones. These options will be discussed in further building blocks.
An important part of imagery is brand personality. A brand personality can provoke imagery associations that are points-of-difference (Keller, 2013). Often, these determine consumers’ purchase decision (ibid) because consumers believe that they cannot find these with a competitive brand (Barwise and Meehan, 2004). Brand associations have to be congruent to create a cohesive brand image and avoid consumer confusion (Heckler et al., 1992).
Harley Davidson(#79) has built a strong, cohesive brand personality which elicits imagery associations that work as points-of-difference. The famous user imagery of bikers with heavy beards, cowboy boots and leather cloths, the country of origin, and the advertisements contribute to the brand personality of macho, American Wild West heroes (Aaker, 1996). Visual imagery of a bike alone on the open road expresses rugged individuality and freedom (ibid). Li and Wyer (1994) suggested different ways in which the country of origin could affect consumer evaluations. For Harley Davidson, it primarily works as a product attribute whose implications combine with other attributes.
Brands should enhance and leverage their personality to allow consumers to identify with it or to project themselves into it (Kapferer, 2012). This will make the brand relevant to consumers, form the basis of a strong relationship, thereby contributing to Role of Brand and Brand Strength.
According to Aaker (1996), usage of a brand may make consumers feel belonging to a user group.
This can contribute to an emotional consumer-brand bond and be a major driver of purchase decision. Therefore, Kapferer (2012) suggests that advertising should not show the actual target customers but the idealised user. For example, Nike (#17) used Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen as celebrity endorsers to build user imagery for its basketball shoe brands (Aaker, 1996).
Brands with strong personality are likely to provide a vehicle to customers for their self-expression (Aaker, 1996). Consumers value the brand for how it relates to their self-concept. In its strongest form, brands can become an extension or integral part of the self. For example, a Harley Davidson biker becomes impossible to disentangle from his/her Harley as the brand is part of their lifestyle, personality and being (ibid).
Interbrand (2016) found that top brands evolve with customer needs while staying true to the brand core. Harley Davidson has successfully broadened its user imagery by emphasising on the more universally likeable freedom value (Aaker, 1996). This enables the brand to stay relevant for new generations of non-macho riders (ibid).
Moreover, Interbrand (2016) has also revealed that partnerships with tech brands are a success factor. For example, heritage brand Hermès (#41) partnered with Apple to launch the Apple Watch Hermès. Hermès stays true to its brand identity of craftsmanship and quality but evolves with demands of a new digital generation.
Budweiser (#31) harnessed its heritage as America’s first national beer brand through a promotion with vintage, wooden crates. On the other hand, Budweiser uses webcam chats to engage with a
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- Nicklas Westphal (Author), 2016, Global Branding. Suggestions to get into the Interbrand top 100 brands list, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/367960