Effect of Brands on Customer Preferences

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INTRODUCTION:
OVERVIEW OF A BRAND
The word ‘Brand’ has become a part of peoples’ basic vocabulary. The words’ meaning changes when it is used in different contexts. Sometimes it is a noun, as in “That is my brand of choice,” and sometimes it is a verb, as in “Let’s brand this campaign.” It has become synonymous with the name of the company, the consumer’s experience of the company, the consumers experience of the company’s products and the consumer’s expectations. Brands are embedded in peoples’ daily lives, as they use the names of the brands as if they are a part of the vocabulary. Consumers mostly use the brand names as verbs or nouns unaware that they use them. When someone uses the word “Walkman” to describe a portable CD or cassette player, it is not important whether they use a real Sony Walkman or not. Numerous authors have presented definitions for a brand. Kotler defined it as “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”. Murphy identified a brand as a product or service of a particular supplier that is differentiated by its name and presentation. According to Kapferer, a brand has two different functions: to distinguish products from each other and to indicate a product’s origin. Although there are many definitions for a brand, they do not contain the whole meaning of what a brand is. Morgan defined it as, “A brand is one of the most important design equities owned by a company.” It is the visual identity, but is more than the logos, labels, colours, names, pack shapes or slogans unique to the company. When considering a new product which has just been introduced to the marketplace, we see that it has a name, logo and unique packaging. However the brand does not yet truly exist. Names, logos and design are not a brand because the product does not yet have a history. A brand is formed over time, through advertising, product interaction, interaction with the company, and conversations. If you think of Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola we would all have had experiences with them, memories, and maybe even a bond.

A brand 'emerges' when a company interacts and builds a relationship with the customer. It is built in the consumer’s mind, where he or she gathers up all the knowledge regarding the company, its products and /or services, the communication they have with the outside world, and the associations all those elements bring up. Thus excitement builds up; people remember the brand and it becomes a reference for them in their daily life. Brand is the promise, the big idea, the reputation and expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about the product and/or the company. It is a powerful yet intangible asset. A company with no brand management strategy is left totally at the mercy of the consumer, as the consumer will have an opinion, and thus create a brand, in any case. Branding is ideally done in a manner that appeals to the needs and wants of the proposed target audience, and thus communicates to that audience issues that give them a positive impression In today’s overcrowded marketplace, almost all of the brands are parity goods and services—products that are equivalent in value. In essence, without brand names, each product or service is a commodity. It is the branding that distinguishes each one. For example, if a consumer wants to purchase tea, there are a great variety of brands from which to choose, all offering the same type of quality and flavours, more or less. Aside from price differences, why a consumer chooses to buy one brand of tea over another has mostly to do with her brand experience—her reaction to the packaging, visual identity, advertising, and perception of the brand. “On a more multifaceted level, a brand is the sum total of all functional and emotional assets that differentiate it among the competition and distinguish it in the...
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