This article provides a practical explanation of Brand Management. After reading the article, you will understand the underlying concepts of this powerful marketing tool.
What is Brand Management?
The definition of Brand Management is twofold. Branding is defined as the creation of a relation or connection between products and services of a business on one hand, and the emotional perception of the customer on the other. The aim is to generate segregation between competitors, as well to build up customer loyalty. Brand management is made up of techniques that are used to strengthen the emotional connection between the business and the consumer. This can be achieved by, for instance, increasing the perceived value of a product.
Another aspect of creating such an emotional connection between customer and business is reputation management, the improvement of the brand perception, brand awareness and loyalty. Branding is used to develop a brand. Brand management refers to the process of guarding and maintaining this brand.
Why is Brand Management important?
Brand Management goes much further than marketing. While word of mouth advertising is extremely important for attracting and keeping customers, it does not always allow you to determine what others say about a particular brand. Strategic Brand Management refers to responding in such a way that a particular brand is bumped up a level, using consistency between teams and various parts of the business.
Brand Management must therefore be applied across the entire organisational hierarchy, and entwined with human resource management, customer service, sales etc. When successfully applied, Brand Management can ensure:
- Increasing brand awareness;
- Being able to request higher prices for products;
- Influencing consumer buying decisions;
- Increased sales;
- Increased customer loyalty;
- Word of mouth advertising from satisfied customers.
The rise of Brand Management
A study by Bevan and Wengrow shows that the necessity for Brand Management in the commercial world arose in the fourth century BC. At that stage, ever larger economies began producing mass products, such as alcohol and cosmetics. These ancient societies also placed strict demands on quality, and wished to create additional value for the consumer through use of branding.
The principles of Brand Management
Many aspects can be linked to Brand Management. Firstly, it is important to have a story. For most businesses, this is the starting point of their journey to effective Brand Management. Each brand has a story, and the more time is invested in defining and distilling the essence of a brand, the more successful the business will be in managing the brand.
Developing a core message is the fundament of a strong brand. In most cases, these core messages determine the value of the brand in the marketplace. The messages also tell the story to both new and existing customers, which is an excellent way to attract new customers and keep exiting ones. When developing a brand story, the focus should be on the most important aspects of a brand, and creative ways to pass on these messages in both traditional and controversial promotion approaches should be sought.
Differentiation and Brand Management
Differentiation is another extremely important aspect of Brand Management. As the brand develops and grows, it is of paramount importance that the story, the reputation and the promotional aspects are constantly tweaked to the characteristics of a brand presented to the marketplace. This can change and, through constant strengthening of these differentiation points, the brand will become more memorable and visible to everyone in the industry.
Competitive analysis is an important condition for positioning a brand. The brand cannot be managed successfully if the most important messages are not being shared or if there is no differentiation. Additionally, to keep the business operating effectively, there must be a good understanding of the competition. Read more here about competitive analyses.
Brand management terminology
Various subject-specific concepts are used in brand management. The most important definitions are explained below.
Brand association refers to the set of information nodes in the memory of a consumer that make up the network of associations around the brand. Parameters such as brand image, brand personality, brand attitude and brand preference are extremely important in this.
A brand’s name awareness refers to the general evaluation of a brand by consumers under a variety of circumstances. Marketeers usually distinguish between two types of brand awareness: brand recognition and brand recall.
A brand’s brand value refers to two different definitions. The first suggests an accounting definition. Brand value according to this definition is a measure for the financial value of a brand, and the measurement of the net added inflow of revenue when this is analysed. The other definition comes from marketing, and is seen as a measurement for the extent to which consumers are attached to a particular brand. This generally amounts to description of the associations and beliefs held by the consumer about a brand.
A brand’s brand reputation refers to how the general public experiences various aspects of the brand. This includes the character, the status, and the quality of a brand. The reputation can be influenced by both internal and external factors. Internal factors are customer service and product quality. External factors are customer reviews which are derived from internal situations, word of mouth advertising and news reports. The reputation of a brand is extremely important as, for some consumers, it may be their first impression of a brand.
Brand attitude refers to the general evaluation of a brand by the buyer regarding its perceived ability to fulfil a currently relevant motivation. It also refers to consumers’ disposition to respond positively or negatively to a brand, based on beliefs of these customers regarding how well a product performs in the most important evaluation criteria.
Brand image refers to the image an organisation has or wishes to project. This can have a psychological meaning, or a meaning-profile associated with a particular brand.
Brand preference refers to consumers’ disposition to particular brands. Usually, this directly results from brand attitude and brand value.
A brand manager’s job is usually to manage the material and immaterial characteristics and aspects of a brand. This refers to the tangible as well as to the non-tangible aspects of a brand. Tangible aspects are the logo, the products, the packaging and colours. Non-tangible aspects are the reputation, customer satisfaction etcetera.
The brand manager’s job is to find out how the brand is perceived in the marketplace, through use of analyses. This can be done by studying the brand’s immaterial aspects. Customers will be exposed to these immaterial aspects of a brand, and their reception by the customers will be one of the determining factors of the development of the brand value.
Brand Management is not just about the development of a brand, but also about the addition of products to existing brands. A brand manager must always keep in mind the target audience when working on a new product design, or when acquiring another brand. The difference between failure and success in brand management is whether continuous innovation is implemented successfully. A brand manager who is always on the lookout for new, innovative ways to improve the quality of a brand, will be able to bind the consumer to their brand more than a competitor who does not place the same importance on this.
Management of tangible brand features
The tangible components of the Brand Management process are the parts which the public can see, experience and remember. They are also called brand assets, and consist of every part of the branding and the marketing that is perceived by the outside world. The outside world implies customers, staff or other stakeholders.
Brand asset management is the process of developing and maintaining, and keeping these elements consistent during the branding period. This period generally comprises the following:
- Organising brand assets online and physically
- Developing an accessible platform
- Instructing the team in how to use the assets
- Performing checks
- Correcting where necessary
The assets mentioned include:
A brand’s logo is often the first thing to invoke an association upon sight by a consumer. Seeing the logo can summon a variety of feelings with the consumer, depending on how the branding position has been organised. The logo embodies the creative representation of a brand. It is a powerful asset, and part of the branding because it stimulates emotional attraction. A well-designed logo can attract and convert consumers.
Like the logo, the house style has a huge impact on how the brand is interpreted by the general public. The colours used are equally important. Blue radiates trust, calm and integrity. The colour red stands for strong, powerful, and energetic, and green stands for help, relaxation and mediation.
Typography refers to the font that the organisation uses, and to the role played by text-based items in the branding. This is especially important for the marketing team, as advertisements and social media posts are pay-per-letter, and even for the space between the letters.
The brand name is the brand’s primary identity. As a brand grows, the association with the brand increases, but the name remains the same. For this reason, it is important to trademark a brand name. Possessing the rights to a brand name will make it easier to protect a brand against competitors who try to copy the brand or part of the brand.
Photos, images and other visualisations spread by a brand are also part of brand asset management. These assets can be used on digital marketing channels, or as press releases, marketing videos or presentations. These images will be used by a wide variety of people, and therefore must be done well. It is, after all, absolutely crucial that people’s associations sparked by seeing the images remain positive.
Social media marketing channels
Another aspect of brand asset management is the website, social media and advertisements of a brand. These are some of the most important iterations of a brand. A large part of humankind has access to the Internet, and the ads will be seen by many potential customers. It is therefore important that the ads provide an accurate representation of the brand.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think? Do you recognise the explanation of Brand Management? Is there much focus on Brand Management in your work environment? Do you acknowledge the benefits of Brand Management? Or do you also see drawbacks and pitfalls? Do you have any tips or suggestions?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- De Chernatony, L. (1999). Brand management through narrowing the gap between brand identity and brand reputation. Journal of marketing management, 15(1-3), 157-179.
- Kapferer, J. N. (2008). The new strategic brand management: Creating and sustaining brand equity long term. Kogan Page Publishers.
- Keller, K. L., Parameswaran, M. G., & Jacob, I. (2011). Strategic brand management: Building, measuring, and managing brand equity. Pearson Education India.
- Rosenbaum-Elliott, R., Percy, L., & Pervan, S. (2015). Strategic brand management. Oxford University Press, USA.
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