Contents :
  • Meaning and Definition of Brand.
  • Functions of Brand.
  • Levels of Brand.
  • Types of Brand.

What is Brand ?

In management context, branding is a symbolic representation of .information associated with a product or service. A brand particular consists of a name, logo, other visible features including color combinations, fonts, images, symbols, etc. A brand raises a number of expectations in the minds of the individuals in relation with particular goods or service. These individuals may be employees working with the brand, suppliers, vendors and their associates, distributors and lastly consumers.
Brand creation is more than Just giving a name to a product. A brand is essentially a promise that the company makes to customers. It is a promise towards satisfaction of their needs and assuring world-class product and service quality. Three questions "who", "what" and "why", are very crucial for the successful branding of any product. Marketers should introduce who the product is, what does it do, and why should consumers know about it.

Definition of Brand :

According to American Marketing Association :
"Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them which is intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors".

Acording to Mellerowicz :
"Brand is defined as branded product as an ubiquitous finished product of consistent or increasing quality for private consumption with an identification mark, standardized amount, and appearance, acceptance in the market and existing consumer advertising".

Functions of Brand :

Functions of brand are as follows :

1) Related to Consumers :

i) Identification of Product Source : 
Brands naturally project the identity of the producer and marketers because they reflect the initiator or creator of the product.

ii) Assignment of Responsibility to Product-maker : 
The consumers are authorized by the brands to allocate the authority to a specific distributor or producer. Above all, brands have a significant impression to win over the consumers.

iii) Risk Reducer : 
A buyer may realize several kinds of risks during procuring and utilizing products including physical, financial, functional, social, psychological, risk of time wastage, etc. Brands can help to minimize these risks encountered during product decisions. They can be used as an effective risk management instrument by the companies conducting business, in case these risks have acute consequences in the long-run.

iv) Search Cost Reducer : 
The amount of money spent by the consumers on exploring various products is reduced considerably with the help of branding. Brands assist in minimizing these costs at the internal level, i.e., in relation to the expectations of the consumers and at the external level, i.e., in terms of exploring the other available options in the market.

v) Promise, Bond or Deal with Maker of Product : 
A brand and a consumer share a relation which can be termed as a kind of 'bond' or 'commitment. Consumers being faithful and dedicated towards a brand have an implied perception about the behavior of the brand. They expect a certain level of performance, appropriate price of the product and suitable promotion and distribution activities to create significant utilities. Consumers will continue to purchase a particular brand as long as they are satisfied and realize the services and benefits provided by that particular brand.

vi) Symbolic Device : 
Brand can act as an illustrative mechanism which enables the consumers to present their own personality. Few specific brands indicate different characteristics or values due to their association with particular class or category of people. Consumers by using these brands can convey to the society as a whole or to themselves about the kind of personality they possess or would wish to possess in future.

vii) Signal of Quality : 
Brands can act as major contributors towards conveying particular product attribute to consumers. Products and their traits or advantages have been categorized into three main categories by researchers which are given below :

a) Search Goods : 
Here visual examination of the product can be done to analyze the characteristics, of the product comprising of size, colour, style, composition, durability, weight of the product, etc.

b) Experience Goods :
In case of experience goods, product traits, probably equally significant, cannot be simply evaluate by physical examination but actual verification and experience is required. This may include safety measures, quality of service, sturdiness, effortless handling or use of the product.

c) Credence Goods : 
Under this. product traits are seldom acknowledged or comprehended, e.g., insurance coverage. Consumers can face lot of problems while evaluating and understanding the characteristics and benefits of a product in case of credence goods. Here, brands can act as key indicator of features and quality of such kind of products.

2) Related to Manufacturers :

i) Means of Identification to Simplify Handling or Tracing : 
Basically brands carry out the function of recognizing which simplifies the task of handling and tracking down products in an organization. It facilitates inventory management and helps in maintaining accounting records.

ii) Means of Legally Protecting Unique Features : 
A company receives security in a legitimized way because of brands. The exclusive outlook and characteristics of products are safeguarded by brands. A brand helps a company to keep possession of its intellectual property rights and also offers legal status to a brand owner.

iii) Signal of Quality Level to Satisfied Customers : 
Regular and satisfied customers are prompted to buy the product one more time because of the brands which communicate about the level of quality maintained by the product. This commitment provides the probability and certainty of demand to the company. New entrants or other competitors find it tough to penetrate the market due to the obstructions created by loyalty of customers.

iv) Means of Endowing Products with Unique Associations : 
A product is graced with exclusive features or associations or reputation due to branding. Thus, it helps in making the product unique.

v) Source of Competitive Advantage :
Branding acts as a source of competitive advantage. Generally, product designs or production/manufacturing techniques may be copied by the competitors. But, it is not easy to create the same product experience or product positioning in the minds of consumers, which was developed through the branding efforts.

vi) Source of Financial Returns : 
The concept of branding may be fruitful in terms of being a potential source of financial returns. Due to this feature, branding. largely gets the attention of top management. For example, a major portion of corporate value of a given FMCG company is represented by its intangible assets and goodwill. Rarely, the 10 per cent of the value is represented by tangible assets. Here, branding is responsible for creating around 70 per cent of the intangible assets.

Levels of Brand :

Generally, there are four levels of brand which are as follows :

1) Attribute Brands: 
Attribute brands are the ones which give the description about the features of the product. Attributes are of different types, some are tangible while some are intangible. Tangible attributes can be colour, shape, form, and size, while intangible attributes are guarantees, warranties, demonstration, or after-sales services. Several brands highlight the prominent features of the products while branding them. For example, use of DTS-i engines in Bajaj bikes, use of ZPTO in Head & Shoulders, etc.

2) Emotional Brands : 
Some brands try to enter into psyche of the consumers by branding the product as an emotionally gratifying experience. After all, consumers are human beings, i.e., much more than purely rational being. Fundamentally, emotions play an important role in the basic nature of the human beings. Customers like to buy the products of the brands which render positive emotional experience and reject the ones which give rise to unpleasant emotional experience.

3) Benefit Brands : 
Attributes refer to the qualities of the product or description about it. However, it becomes quite essential to tell that how the consumer would be benefited by the certain attribute of the product. For example, low PUFA in Saffola oil 'aap ke dil ka rakhe khayal', Vicks Vaporub - 'sardi se rahat', etc.
There are several brands which create a specific brand proprietary and they put emphasis on the attributes of product from customer's perspective. In other words, they try to find out what benefits a customer will get from a particular attribute. This helps the company in establishing a meaningful relationship with the customer.

4) Value Brands : 
The driving force of human beings is much more than his emotional and psychological needs. The basic human nature can be described as 'psychographic', i.e., behavioral and psychological construction. For getting connected with the consumers, the brands try to visualize how their product would match with the psyche of the consumers, even before branding and marketing the product. An intensive investigation about why should the customers buy their product helps in ascertaining the desired end. For example, 'ghee' that controls your cholesterol level instead of disturbing it, a cream that can help you look young, etc.

Types of Brand :

1) According to Ownership : 

Here, ownership determines the type of brand. Two types of brands are there based on ownership, which are as follows :

i) Manufacturer's Brand : 
When the name of the manufacturer of the product is used for branding the product, it is called manufacturer's brand.
For example, using name of Samsung for branding its products like smartphones, TV, AC, etc.

ii) Middlemen's Brand :
In this type of branding, instead of the manufacturer it is the middlemen whose name is used as brand. The middlemen may be wholesalers, retailers, etc.

2) According to the Market Area : 

Five types of brands are there based on target market area :

i) Local Brand : 
In this, the brands are decided keeping the local markets in mind. Thus, there are different local brands for different markets.

ii) Provincial Brand : 
In this, the brand name is decided for a particular State or province. Therefore, for a single product, different brand names exist in different provinces.

iii) Regional Brand : 
In this, the brand name is for a particular region. Different regions will thus have different brand names. The entire country may be divided into regions like North, South, East, West, Central, etc.

iv) National Brand : 
When a particular product is available with the same brand name throughout the country, it is referred as national brand.

v) International Brand : 
When a particular product is available with the same brand name throughout the world, it is known as international brand.

3) According to the Number of Products : 

A brand can also be classified on the basis of the number of products it covers. On this basis brands can be of following three types :

i) Family brand : 
When all the products of a company are marketed with the same brand name in different market segments, it is called family brand.
For example, the Reliance Group uses its parent name to brand various product lines like Reliance Petrochemicals, Reliance Communications, Reliance Retail, etc.

ii) Product Line Brand : 
When a company decides to give different names to different product lines then it follows product line branding. For example, Hindustan Unilever uses this strategy to brand its various product lines like soaps, beverages, detergents, etc.

iii) Individual Brand : 
When the company uses different names for the products in the same product line, it is called individual branding strategy. For example, different individual brands of soaps are used by HUL like Lifebuoy, Rexona, Vivel, etc.

4) According to Use : 

Brands can also be categorized according to use. This can be as follows :

i) Fighting Brand : 
These brands are launched in the market with a significant difference from the brands that are already being offered by the competitors of the company. In other words, these brands try to get a distinct positioning in the market vis-a-vis the competition. For example, ITC has launched a cigarette brand named "Now".

ii) Competitive Brand : 
Competitive brands on the other hand fight for the same positioning in the market and do not have any significant differences.
For example, Rexona, Lux, etc., are all examples of competitive brands.