The Power of Brand Names

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The Power of Brand Names
Brand names have become a dominant factor in consumer marketing of a myriad of products, ranging from potato chips to refrigerators to tennis shoes. In looking at the historical development of brand names, Coca-Cola® was one of the first nationally recognized brands to come along. The Coca-Cola Company printed its first consumer calendar in 1891. Another early national brand name was Gillette® razor blades. King Gillette invented the first disposable razor blade in 1903 and rapidly set out to tell the world about the benefits of throw-away blades. Vaseline® was first used as a name for petroleum jelly in 1899 and registered as a U.S. Trademark in 1925. Hershey's Kisses®, first registered in 1923, have maintained the same look for both the brand name and the product to this day. The Wonder® trademark was first used in 1921 and has been expanded for bakery products ranging from bread to tortillas. Those trade names represent major assets for their companies today. The use of brand names in America began during and after the Industrial Revolution. Their use was prompted by the Trademark Act of 1905, which encouraged the use of brand names by manufacturers because of the powerful protection the U.S. government provided to properly registered brand names. Brand name advertising began in newspapers, but later influenced every other media as well, including the Internet. What is a brand?

A brand is a product name or logo that, when consumers are knowledgeable, immediately brings to mind a specific product or service. When you see or hear the word "Coke," it conveys an image to your brain. On a hot summer day, the word can even invoke an overpowering thirst. Think of the word "McDonald's" at certain times of the day and many people get an urge to climb in the car and head for the nearest outlet. It took a lot of advertising to create those images, but they are now entrenched in the public's mind. Another way of explaining the impact of branding is that a brand might also be considered to be the personality of the product or service. An effective brand will tell the customer what to expect from the product and even how it will impact or benefit their lifestyle. Subliminal impulses produced by brand names only happen when consumers have been pre-informed about the benefits provided by the brand. It usually comes with heavy consumer advertising, but can also result from word-of-mouth communications. To make this happen, the benefits provided by the brand must be strongly defined and well understood or sales of the branded product will not be affected. There are many instances where brand names become so recognized that they actually become a generic name for that type of product. For example, when covering a cut, most people ask for a Band-Aid, although the actual covering used may not be that brand. Other examples of this include brand names such as Kleenex and Xerox. This is considered to be a hazardous situation by manufacturers since it implies that all brands of adhesive bandages and/or tissues are of equal value, certainly not what the manufacturers of Band-Aids or Kleenex believe. Brand Equity As important as the brand name is the brand equity. Brand equity can be defined as the perceived worth of the brand and its image, along with the ability of the brand to convey this message to the marketplace. Brand equity is comprised of several factors, including: • Monetary value. Branded products command higher prices than their generic counterparts. Consumers expect branded products to be of higher quality and, therefore, accept the fact that these products cost more. • Intangible value. This is value associated with a product but not accounted for by price or features. This is also known as a brand's image. Many companies use celebrities or star athletes to promote their products, and this marketing image creates demand for the product. People buy the product because they believe the product has...
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