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Publishing Date: March 1999. © 1999. All rights reserved. Copyright rests with the author. No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission from the author.
Brand awareness and brand image
Building brand equity To build brand equity, we need to start with the building blocks of brand equity. They include brand awareness, and brand image or the associations that a brand evokes. Brand awareness Brand awareness has two components: breadth and depth. Let us first consider depth . While a consumer may be aware of many brands, all brands are not equal in terms of awareness. The depth of awareness may vary and this may have profound implications for brand equity. For instance, a brand may be the first brand that comes to mind (top-of-mind recall ), or it may be one of the many brands mentioned by the consumer when asked (unaided recall ), or it may be recognized only when prompted (aided recall ). The breadth of a brand refers to its association with different consumption occasions. For instance, if Coke is associated with having lunch, going to the movies, relaxing with friends, relaxing alone, quenching thirst or watching TV, then it has a greater breadth compared to a brand of orange juice that may only be associated with being had at breakfast. Another way of looking at brand awareness is to view the brands known to customers as belonging to an evoked or an elicited set. The evoked set consists of those brands that are voluntarily mentioned by a consumer when asked to name brands. It is from this set that a consumer is likely to choose the brand he or she is likely to use. The elicited set, on the other hand, consists of brands that a consumer knows but doesn't think of unprompted. Brands in the elicited set have a lower likelihood of purchase since they do not come readily to mind. Brand image Brand image refers to brand perception, or the associations evoked by a brand. Brand perception may or may not be based on factual information. Favourable brand images - irrespective of the source of their origin - contribute to brand equity. Brand image depends on three factors: 1. How strong are the brand associations? 2. How positive are the brand association? 3. How unique are the brand associations? Let's look at the first aspect of brand image - strength. Not all brand associations are equally strong. For instance, a brand may be perceived to be of higher quality and yet this association between the brand and quality may be weak. When making a purchase a consumer has to make a choice among competing alternatives. Consider a consumer for whom quality is important. If he or she is presented with two brands that are both of high quality, other things being equal, the consumer is more likely to choose the brand that has a stronger association with quality than the one with a weaker association. The second aspect of brand image is that the image should be a positive one. No brand equity is obtained through a strong brand association, if the association is negative. However, some brand associations are not necessarily positive or negative. They are positive or negative depending on our brand strategy. Being perceived as 'inexpensive' may be positive for a brand that is positioned as price competitive but may not be positive for a brand that is being promoted as an exclusive. So a positive brand image means positive for the brand under Page: 1
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consideration. The third aspect, uniqueness, means that the brand should have a distinct image. This aspect of brand image plays a key role in building brand loyalty. A brand may have many strong and positive associations. However, if such strong and positive associations are also shared by competing brands, the brand is vulnerable to competitive pressures. A brand needs to be seen as unique in some way. Brand equity, then, is generated when a brand has strong, positive associations that are unique....
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