Brand, AKA the DNA of a Trademark

What is a brand and actually why do people invest in it?

The word brand comes from the Old Norse „barndr” which means to burn, in the 10th century a torch was so called. 600 years later, it was referred to as a burnt mark on the skin of cattle and its owner.

As a starting point for the origins and essence of a brand, one can take the definition of the American Marketing Association (AMA). It reads as follows: BRAND is: a name, concept, design, symbol or any other mark that distinguishes the goods or services of one supplier from those of other suppliers. The legal term for a brand is a trademark. A brand can include: a single product, a family of products, all the products of a particular supplier (when referring to an entire company, the term trade name is used). According to the interpretation of the main institution creating marketing standards in the USA – the home of marketing, the world’ s main arena of marketing processes and phenomena – any attribute that identifies the product of a given supplier as different from the products of other suppliers can be considered a 'brand’. Such an attribute can be: name, concept, design, symbol.

„Anything else, as long as it distinguishes supplier A’s product from those of other suppliers.” The AMA’s definition seems anything but precise. Attributes such as name, logotype or typography are undoubtedly very important for a brand, the existence of at least one of them is even essential, but this does not mean that the attributes are the brand. The McDonald’s brand is not just the golden arches in the M and the signature clown. It is a whole range of content, values and associations retained in consciousness under the name „McDonald’s.” In addition, this definition identifies the brand with a name, symbol, design or melody And this interpretation may raise some doubts. For it implies that the shape of a Volkswagen Humpback, the taste of Coca Cola or the smell of Chanel perfume do not belong to a brand by definition. The definition also indicates that a brand is intended to help identify the product of a particular seller (not the manufacturer). A brand only in one case indicates the manufacturer, when the manufacturer’s name is a component of the product name, e.g. Coca Cola, Opel Corsa, etc. In other cases, identification of the manufacturer occurs through other parts of the label or not at all. The following cases can be distinguished here:

  • The product is manufactured by an anonymous manufacturer and branded by another manufacturer or retailer („branded” Dior glasses, Harley Davidson toilet water. Perfume, eyewear and clothing are not designed by those who brand them, they act as a guarantor of style rather than an artisan), the name suggests the performer, his name became the name of the company or product line (cosmetics and Max Factor, Davidoff, Smirnoff vodka) despite the fact that he himself is no longer actively involved in the creation of the product (he no longer owns the company or has passed away),
  • the name is an individual brand, the manufacturer cannot be inferred from it (e.g. Anatol cereal coffee, manufacturer Delecta, Max Factor 2000 calories eyelash spiral, manufacturer Procter & Gamble).

Sometimes the company tries to hide, as it were, the fact that it is not the manufacturer of a particular product, the name of the producing company is then located in some inconspicuous place on the packaging (a very small sticker on the „bottom” of the eyelash spiral) and is written in a rather small font. For example, this is what Procter & Gamble does. Would a consumer be as eager to buy MaxaFactor cosmetics if he or she were aware that P&G also produces powders and diapers? Would he or she believe that such a significant diversification of the business ensures the high quality of all products? On the basis of the brand, the customer can clearly identify the product as an item; identifying the source of the product is somewhat adulterated. Identifying a brand with the name of a product is inappropriate for yet another reason. After all, the communicative function of a brand, its social functioning, is that the product is recognizable even when the symbol, inscription, logo is not visible. Yves Saint Laurent’s perfume, known as Champagne, is sold in France without a name, the inscription Champagne, after losing a lawsuit with the producers of the drink, was replaced on the box by a provocative red streak reminiscent of a censor’s intervention. In other European countries, by contrast, the product is called Ivresse. Identifying the product in France is not difficult, even though it has no name. What’s more, it should also be unambiguously recognizable „on the user,” based solely on the smell. 

Philip Kotler in the 1980s introduced a brand as „a name, term, mark, symbol, drawing or combination of these elements created or developed to designate a product and to distinguish it from competing products” . However, Ph. Kotler’s recent definition of a brand, assigns it a much greater significance: „A brand is not a stamp, it is a kind of pledge, a promise, it is what should shape a company’s behavior and strategy. It is all marketing communication in a nutshell.” Thus, a brand can be regarded as a kind of promise and even a commitment by the owner, to consistently and continuously provide favorable characteristics to the buyer in the act of purchasing a branded product. It is worth emphasizing that a brand is more than a name, logo, colors, slogan or symbol. A brand is a promise to consistently deliver specific product features, benefits and services to the customer . A brand is therefore, a combination of the physical product, brand name, packaging, advertising and accompanying distribution and price activities. It is a combination that differentiates the sender’s offerings from those of its competitors, provides benefits to the customer, thus creating a group of loyal customers and thus enabling it to achieve a leading position in the market.  

Brand components: 

  • Brand image – the way consumers perceive the brand. Brand image. This is a subjective view of the brand that exists in the minds of consumers, so any associations about the brand can affect the creation of its image. Thus, the brand image is formed, based on experiences and associations about a particular brand formed in the subconscious of buyers, and the formation of this image is influenced by the information reaching the customer about the product or the company itself. In addition, that the brand image is directly related to the brand identity expressed in the buyer’s associations with the brand, which, as intended by the sender, should be formed and maintained in the consumer’s mind. Brand image is based on the brand identity built by its owner.
  • Brand identity – the way the sender of the brand wants it to be perceived by customers. Despite the fact that the brand identity conveys specific information to the consumer, the reception of this information by potential customers may be different, as they have different intellectual predispositions, interests and beliefs, set their own values and preferences in accordance with the norms of the environment in which they operate. In this regard, it should be noted that brand image refers to the brand consumer, and brand identity connects to the brand owner. Thus, brand identity is the sender’s expected perception of the brand, and brand image is its image in the minds of the addressees.
  • Brand positioning – the brand’s place in the market at a particular time. Another of the attributes of a strong brand is the perceived quality of the brand, i.e. consumers’ subjective assessment of the level of quality of given products bearing a particular brand. This is an assessment of product quality that is made by the customer according to personal opinion and is often not based on actual knowledge. Perceived quality affects purchase decisions and brand loyalty, especially when the consumer is not motivated or does not know the benefits of choosing a particular product. At the same time, perceived quality enables a higher price to be set, encourages suppliers and allows the brand to expand into new products. This translates into market share, reducing customer retention costs, while reducing pressure from competitors.

This was the first part of my thoughts, the next part is next week. If you have any additional thoughts, comments feel free to contact me Karolina