How to Make a Brand Desirable in the UK

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Abstract

This thesis aims to explore ways that businesses or brands use to make their brand desirable to consumers. According to Keller et al. (1998), a brand is a set of mental associations, believed by the customer that add to the alleged value of the product or service. The thesis explores various techniques utilised by brands to market themselves to target markets. Three UK brands (Nike, Andrex & Gillette) are used as case study in this research and the PCDL model framework is used to show ways in which brands can market their products/ services.

The BRP starts by introducing brands and marketing ideas in the introduction then follows on to literature review where the PCDL model is introduced lightly before the methodology and findings section explores the PCDL framework fully.

A case study approach is then introduced in the evaluation section, with focus on the three UK brands mentioned above, where the techniques used by those brands are highlighted and the manner in which those brands achieved their success through marketing.

A discussion of marketing & brand performance follows this and ways in which management together with businesses are also mentioned. The conclusion section summarises the study plus recommendations for future work is provided.

Contents

Abstract

Acknowledgement

Introduction

Aim of the BRP

Research approach

Literature Review

Brands desirability

Has the brand tried to establish a frame?

Is the brand leveraging its points of parity?

Are there several points of difference compelling?

Methodology

Findings

Positioning the brand

Communicating the brand message

Delivering the brand performance

Leveraging the brand equity

Evaluation (case study)

Nike

Andrex

Gillette

Discussion

Conclusion

Recommendations

Bibliography

Introduction

Brand is a set of mental associations, believed by the customer that add to the alleged value of the product or service (Keller, Heckler & Houston, 1998). This illustrates that customers are key players to the survival of brand. Also, managing a brand carefully with proper strategy helps build its reputation as Wood (2010) states that consumer marketing aspect of brand provides critical points of differentiation between competitive offerings.

According to Knapp (1999), it takes a lifelong commitment to build a brand that automatically channels the consumer’s mind-set to it. Knapp (1999) elaborates that this process draws on perseverance and planning which yields intangible outputs to gain client satisfaction, condensed price comparison, manageable defections, a large market capitalisation, and great customer retention. Schouten & Koenig (2002) further reaffirm this by stating that a brand can be of significant value to clients and the relationship between them with marketing agents plus companies behind the brands can last for years as long as the brand meets expectations and is well priced for its quality.

A brands identity is built on understanding of what the customers want, what the competitors are offering and the nature of the business/ industry environment. In this sense, the identity of the brand should reflect the strategies for it in addition the organisation’s inclination has to allocate capital for the programs required for the brand to fulfil its expectations (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, Brand Leadership, 2002)

A reputable brand that has consistently delivered on expectations retains customers, can alter prices, but also it can produce sister brands if it wants to with reassurance of success. However, in order to reach this point, organisations must understand what customers want as well as believe, their behavioural patterns, attributes of services or products and the capabilities of competitors. This thesis draws the framework of the PCDL model which is used for brand building; with a case study on three UK brands: Nike, Andrex and Gillette.

Rationale of the BRP

The aim of this thesis is to research methods and techniques for which businesses use to make their products/ services desirable. Economically, according to Ghodeswar (2008), a brand signals to clients the product’s origin plus it gives protection to customers & manufacturers, from competitors attempting to produce products that are similar in nature and quality too. This shows the attractiveness of the product or service behind that brand. It is therefore assumed that established brands offer sustainability and growth, regular profits that can sometimes be very high, increase in the value of assets from differentiation, significant volumes of sales, overall reduced costs, without forgetting economies of scale (Temporal, 2000)

A lot of literature has been published about branding and a lot of researchers have looked in detail at the impact of branding perspective through PCDL framework. Roulac (2007) refers to branding as a physical property in terms rentals or sales; a point that Aaker (2012) reaffirms by stating that branding strengthen relationship and performance elements by delivering goods or services to the markets. Although an excellent record in serving customers can be linked to branding, the theory of branding has rarely been exerted in positioning problems within organisations.

Using the PCDL model, this paper seeks to explore strategies to fulfil the expectations of customers from the perspective of three UK brands. The results are used to understand the importance a branding makes to both the company plus its customers.

Research approach

From the rationale, the research will take on a case-study approach. By using the PCDL model, the paper will follow a framework used in brand identity building and explore ways in which brands are positioned, communicated to the market, delivered and leveraged. There are 3 research questions discussed in literature review, they are:

  • Has the Brand tried to establish a Frame?
  • Is the Brand leveraging its points of parity?
  • Are there several points of difference compelling?

Literature Review

Brands desirability

De Chernatony (2010)defines brand desire as the ability to balance connection, energy and substance, the qualities that have big impact on how the brand makes the buyer think, feel and act. Allchin (2013) points out that the heart of the desire and any success of any brand is the “Triangle of impact” which consists of energy, substance and connection. These are the first core determinants that a brand must follow to achieve customer’s desirability.

Bruhn, Schoenmueller, & Schafer (2012) observe that through the factor of energy the brand energises the organisation towards success or competitive organisation. Substance factor is mostly concerned with innovating new products or substances so that the organisation can attract customers. Connection part is based on how the brand connects with the customer’s typology. Zeithaml et al. (1996) state that customer’s typology varies across various industries and it is considered multi-dimensional. They are ‘cool’, ‘sociable’, ‘status’, ‘care’, ‘respect’, ‘reassurance’. The brand also needs to consider other three core determinants which are establishing a frame, several points of difference compelling, leveraging its points of parity.

Has the brand tried to establish a frame?

Aaker (2012) defines a frame as a reference point where the brand observes the business world. This is also a fancy way of saying the market you compete in. Therefore, choosing the right point of frame of reference can have a direct impact on the brands positioning. It also includes all the options that a consumer should satisfy their needs. A brand needs to be positioned in the right place and the frame of reference is a key factor that can help the brand to make the right choice.

Keller, Heckler, & Houston  (1998) reported that the biggest variable to consider is the product stage in the life cycle. The competing products in the market are considered as the frame of reference, this helps the customers know the product better and its functions. In the future, a product’s life cycle might have threats or difficulties so there is need to overcome these hurdles in a similar manner to Federal Express, launching a clear point of difference from traditional mail delivery so it stood out against its competitors (Keller, Sternthal, & Tybout, 2002)

According to Kavaratzis (2004), choosing “a competitive frame of reference that reduces the number of brands competing for attention” is another variable to consider when selecting the frame of reference. Several brands practice this, for example, Brush treasure; when the brand noticed the competitors mostly advertise themselves as an ‘online art gallery’, whereby art is a general word including paintings, photographs and sculptures; the brand decided to advertise themselves differently as ‘original paintings online’ and this exposed them to another market which is the paintings, which was a result of being specific. This strategy is commonly evident in UK high streets whereby some restaurants use the ‘halal’ branding to attracts customers of Islamic religion.

Having an easily noticeable brand is also a variable to consider (Zhu, Mukhopadhyay, & Kurata, 2012). One way businesses try to win over customers is by using an RFID technology that is linked with clients, suppliers, manufacturers and retailers; which enable real time tracking of sales, reactions and market behaviour. (Smiley, 2015). Examples of companies that use this type of technology are Amazon, M&S & Made.com. This allows these organisations to always produce and delivery what is in demand and in the right quantity at the right price.

The frame of reference should support a brand’s positioning as the third variable (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999).This point certainly shows that positioning depends on the frame of reference, this will decide the points of parity the brand has to follow so that they can be considered as a legitimate player meaning exposing the opportunities to difference. An example of aa brand that implemented this technique is Hyundai; which was the first company to offer its customers 5 year warranties in Canada, whilst others were still offering 3 years of warranty (BrandUniq, 2016). This allowed Hyundai to surpass its competitors for a period of time.

Urde (2016) claims that a brand should define the competitors as the fourth variable. This journal explains how a brand must know its market externally and internally by doing R&D and intensive analysis of the environment. A noticeable strategist is groceries retailer cooperative, who have distanced their stores from competitors. Another strategy to boost sales and make brands appeal more is the revolution of providing 24hr shopping, free parking, trolleys and personal shoppers.

Morgan- Thomas & Veloutsou (2013) conclude that technology should not be chosen as a frame of reference as the fifth variable. This is because technology evolves every time and everyday something new is being invented so it’s not to be depended on. A good example is the car industry; when there was an introduction of Tesla X as the electronic cars many companies never expected this change from oil to electricity. Therefore the Tesla motors has made one step ahead than the other car companies because the drilling of oil causes destruction of environment; and this is something that many countries are against over time (Morello, 2017).

Is the brand leveraging its points of parity?

Sengupta (2013) defines point of parity as benefits that are not only exclusive to the company but, might be shared by other competitors. Here there are just two types that constitute this area which are Category and competitive point of parity (Sengupta, 2013).

The first type states that a brand should have necessary characteristics for a consumer to choose it and the second type concludes by saying that after having your basic elements that influenced the customer’s choice then add features that would negate the competitor’s points of difference (Sengupta, 2013).

Are there several points of difference compelling?

The establishing of a frame of reference requires identifying the points of difference. What these means is that the product/brand needs to have a number of differentiated attributes (Process & Process, 2016). The product will stand out of the competition because of several characteristics that customers can get from it

According to Keller et al (2002), there are three categories to differentiate brands on, which are performance, imagery and customer perception. Each of these three differences have their own function like; brand performance association attempts to meet consumers functional needs, the second deals with relating brand reliability, durability and serviceability and consumer insight association helps to differentiate the company from its competitors.

Methodology

Methodology is defined as the

Manner that a problem is approached when seeking for solutions (Taylor, Bogdan, & DeVault, 2015). The methodological approach for this research is a Phenomenological or interpretivist because it wants to understand the social phenomena from the actor/brand perspective and how the business world is affected.

There different types of research and we approach them with different methods. Strauss & Corbin (1990) defines methods as a set of techniques for gathering and analysing descriptive data. The qualitative research methods that will be used are observations, in-depth interviewing (Taylor, Bogdan, & DeVault, 2015).

The research of secondary data collection through observation from financial reports of different brands has shown that if their sales are high it show if customers desire the brand and the opposite when it’s low. The other method performed was interviewing different consumers who desire several brands because brand reputation convinces buyers to choose that particular company and the result were seen in the brand desire index (Allchin, 2013). Gassmann, Enkel & Chesbrough (2010) reports that huge brands innovate everyday that’s why their status grows constantly. To conclude that desirability is not only about producing great products but also constantly re-evaluating and innovating your brand so as it can be recommended by customers continuously.

Using the PCDL model, the paper will follow the models’ chronological order which is as follows:

  1. Brand positioning
  2. Message communication
  3. Performance delivery
  4. Leveraging of the brand’s equity

The paper will use three UK leading brands as examples to the case study and elaborate on the brands’ marketing techniques to make their brand’s desirable.

Findings

Following on from the literature review and a review of three UK brands, a theoretical model used for building brands in competitive markets will be used. The model is known as PCDL which stands for brand positioning, communication of the brand’s message or aim, delivering – in regard to performance of the brand and leveraging. These findings are discussed below.

Positioning the brand

According to Aaker (1996),  to position a brand is to create a perception in the consumer’s/ buyer’s mind that the brand is unique compared to what is offered in the market by competitors and it will meet the consumer’s needs and expectations. As a brand manager, the core objective is to create a perception of the product to potential customers. By doing this, the brand marketer gives the brand an identity and adds a proposed value to it which is constantly communicated to customers and able to demonstrate an advantageous factor in comparison to rival brands.

A brand that is well placed will have propositions that consumers find attractive and will make them associate with the brand. The propositions include home delivery, discounts or regular promotions in store, and even friendly service. (Aaker D. , 1996). With current market trends and economic evolutions, many brands try to link their products with things, celebrities, or other brands and this is important for affecting the consumer’s behaviour  (Keller, Sternthal, & Tybout, 2002). Marketing agents or marketers in general, must understand ways in which linking brands to entities will affect the buying decision of consumers, and therefore they should aim to create an optimal perception of a particular brand in the consumers mind (depicted in figure 1 below). Temporal (2000) states that emphasis should be placed on “creating a psychological value to products” and the companies behind the brands in order to create intangible benefits. These benefits refer to emotions associated to the brand/ product, beliefs about the brand, values, and personal feelings that people can relate to the brand. By using these techniques to position the brand in the customer’s mind, the marketer can create a strong identity and personality and admiration for the brand. Sherrington (2003) further supports this view by stating that to create a substantial value, one should be able to endow a brand with great emotional significance that is above the brands functionality. However, it is equally important that the promise of this value must be deemed relevant by the target audience (Ward, Light, & Goldstine, 1999)

Brands should not just be created for the sake of new products or service, because like any product, there is a life-cycle. According to Chernatony and McDonald (1998), brands become successful by building relationships with customers and making them “feel a sense of commitment and belonging” to the cause even to a point of passion. Customers choose brands according to their emotional needs. If a brand achieves this, the customer will be able to strongly differentiate their preferred brands to competitor’s offerings. Branding transforms a functional asset to a relationship asset. Strong brands unify the quality of the brand’s service of products with many intangibles such as the user’s imagery, usage imagery (what the brand can or is being used for), brand personality, the emotions that the brand is trying to draw from its customers and relationship building (these can be seasonal relationship, committed or even casual).

The most successful brands maintain their edge in product arenas and alter their desired intangibles to fit times (Keller K. L., 2000). There are other six alternatives for position which are identified by Upshaw (1995) as (1) a positioning strategy that is target driven, (2) a positioning strategy formed out of competition, (3) positioning as a result of emotional and psychological impact (4) benefit drive positioning strategy, (5) positioning due to aspirations and (6), positioning due to value created. A well-positioned brand will occupy a consumers mind.

Communicating the brand message

Positioning a brand is never enough without communication the brand message to the target audience – each brand has its own vision of how it wants to be perceived. With positioning, a brand can employ a communication theme and objective such as the type of message to be delivered, what sort of differentiation is desired and other types of themes that would appeal to potential customers. For this, brands turn to advertising agency who exhaust resources and creativity in order to make a strong impact on the target audience and market as a whole. According to Aaker and Joachimsthaler (2000), there are five challenges that companies face when building brand and these are: to change the buyers perception, to be noticed, to form a relationship with customers and to reinforce attitudes.

Highly successful brands use repetitive themes in various types of media. These forms are used in positioning the brand in the mind of consumers and are done directly in markets to the customers, through sponsorships, advertising, PR (public relations), sales promotion, internet and other integrated business communications. According to Parameswaran (2001), brands are amalgams of physical products that go with the brands. Emotions are used in advertising to appeal to minds and heart of customers with the aim of forming relationships. This stimulates brand awareness which enables the customer to recall a brand as belonging to a certain group. Brand image refers to how people imagine a brand to be (Temporal, 2000). Different brand use different techniques, for example an old brand will aim to bring consumers to remember past events and times (Brown, Kozinets, & Sherry Jr., 2003).

For outcome from advertising, understanding of all variables that could impact a brand is needed. These variables include competitor’s activity, new technologies, consumer tends etc. (Parameswaran, 2001). The identity of a brand is dependent on consumer personalities, environments and societies they stay in, and brands messaging and positioning. When communicating a brands message to consumers, consistency is key, especially in areas where competition is strong; and creating points of parity is essential. It is also equally important to have a long-term strategy for integrating communication and demonstrating the products value to target customers (Keller K. L., 2000).

                                                                               Figure 1 PCDL Model

Delivering the brand performance

A continuous tracking of brands needs to be done by their respective companies to protect from competition, particularly in the wake of fierce competitive rivalry. Progress of the company should be tracked based on the performance of their brands and the impact of inventions in marketing company brands. Companies can monitor progress in terms of brand recognition, level of purchasing, consumption, brand recall and advertising awareness. Through this approach, the impact of advertising to influence customers can be assessed by brand marketers, and it can lead to the measurement of the strength of the brand. Brands should employ a technique known as transaction analysis that allows members of the company to act as customers to experience steps that customers go through; which in turn helps the company assess the impact of their brand and systems on actual customers (Knapp 2000). As the saying goes “bad news travels faster”, so does bad customer experience. According to Balakrishnan and Mahanta (2004), organisations must devise a way of assessing their customer’s perception of services offered, to maintain competition by improving customer care and satisfaction.

As product-driven companies view their brand with regards to customer, service also plays a vital role in the brand experience. A progressive company would nature its brand’s philosophy across efficient levels throughout the organisation whilst evaluation every contact point that customers have, and streamline the brand’s processes to deliver on the customer’s expectations.

There is a potential vulnerability of suppliers’ existing brands to suffer as a result of new brands from competitors. Maintenance of the functionality of current brands is therefore in the manufacturer’s interest, which implies continuous upgrade of their performance. To carry out Regular blind product tests of the manufacturer’s brand against its competitors would be the best discipline to focus attention on this upgrading to help the business sustain functionality and excellence of the brand (Jones 2000).

The firms are enabled by this approach to build trust with customers and prevent negative impacts of competitor brands on their own brands. Brand loyalty results after a chain of events are satisfied such as delivery of brand performance, quality, price, customer services and equity (Burmann & Zeplin, 2005). Brand loyalty is also a measure of how attached customers are to a brand and their willingness to not take on another brand irrespective of price difference and features (Aaker D. , Measuring Brand Equity Across Products and Market, 1996).

Brand loyalty is a representation of a favourable attitude towards a brand that leads to recurring consumption of the brand which is also a result of customers being satisfied with what the brand offers (Assael, 2001). Customer retention can only be achieved as a result of building loyalty and emotional attachment between the brand and customers (Gounaris & Stathakopoulos, 2004). Loyal customers also help promote a brand through word of mouth and recommendations.  “operational standards” must be set by companies in areas that affect the brands daily activities and also applied to behaviours, service provision, performance achievement and so on (Klaus & Schmidt, 2002)

Specific effects that increases a products value apart from its brand name can also be the level of consumer constructs like product awareness, consumer attitudes, image and knowledge or economics factors such as price, market capitalisations, annual revenues and cash flows.

Leveraging the brand equity

Keller (2002) defines brand leveraging as a process of integrating a brand with other units that may develop a new association between the brand and the new entity and any effect on current associations. Organisations use different strategies to leverage brands through for example extending current product lines, co-branding and ingredient branding among others. Ingredient branding allows a brand to transfer current ingredients to other products/ brands and this will make the ingredient gain popularity. It means that the current brand will increase its variety through differentiation and beat competition (Desai & Keller, 2002). With this move, brand alliances will be formed between different firms through marketing activities or brands. When ingredients are transferred, the original or initial brand will have little power in control on long term consumer purchasing of the new brand that is seen as different from the parent brand (Swaminathan, Fox, & Reddy, 2001). In the event that the rand extension fails, the parent brand’s equity will be harmed by the negative effects. This is because the extension brand is seen as a replication of the parent brand and so if the parent brand had a bad experience, this might affect the extension brand’s image but not repeat purchases. Advertisement might help a parent brands image too because if an extension brand is well advertised, this will spill over to the parent brand and give it popularity (Subramanian & Ghose, 2003). The spill over is most favourable to brands when two or more products are advertised separately.

Evaluation (case study)

Figure 2 PCD application on 3 UK companies

A case study of three UK brands was undertaken to outline the approach for brand building that brought them success and market capitalisation. The action points suggested through these case studies reinforced the proposed PCDL model for brand building.

Nike

Nike is a global company that originated from a track and field event in Oregon America. The company has two founders whereby one was a track and field trainer who coached athletes to the level of Olympics and won medals. Bill Owen, the trainer invested $500 to buy shoes from a Japanese  shoe manufacturer and he would sell this to his athletes from the back of his van during running events. Phil Knight was the other founder who also invested $500 and this was used to enhance the shoes that they bought by removing excess materials and making the shoes lightweight to run in. Together the two friends formed a company which they names Blue Ribbon, indicative of the colour of ribbons used at the finish line on the running track. From this regular activity, they found an athlete in Steve Prefontaine who used and endorsed their shoes (O’Reilly, 2014).

Blue Ribbon became Nike during the 1972 Olympic trials. In the same year, Nike began making shoes with air technology to make them lightweight. These were the first super lightweight shoes in 1972 and they became famous among athletes and Nike was the number one sports shoe maker in the US by 1981. Nike expanded rapidly in basketball business and extended to other sports such as baseball and tennis with even greater endorsers.

Today, Nike is famed for its advertising and inclusion of great athletes. These are the two pillars of Nike. The company approaches its marketing in a very different way. Athletes are not just poster boys but instead, they are the brand behind Nike, they are the product, advertising and also they work at Nike. The Nike brand has worked with numerous athletes such as Ronaldo, Andy Murray, Odel Beckham, David Beckham and even the England rugby team. This has allowed for a created of a multi-faceted brand rather than having one consistent proposition; Nike delivers variety of messages and shows different personalities. This is what keeps Nike’s brand fresh (Superbrands, 2002)

Nike runs a diverse advertisement as its portfolio of athletes. Not all of Nike’s adverts feature top athletes. For example, the commercial that launched the ‘just do it’ featured an elderly runner who had false teeth, non-athletes and expecting mothers who had found inspiration from Nike advertisements.

Majority of Nike advertisements seem to have been done without reference to marketing textbooks or any researched data. However, sales generated after each advert is extremely high and this proves that their method of marketing and advertising is working for the brand.

In the UK, Nike runs advertisements from London intended for a variety of markets with some global campaign too. Highlights of these adverts have included famous provoking posters, transformation of underground rail to now the Wimbledon tennis court and ‘park-life’ commercial celebration of Sunday league football.

It is surprising that with Nike’s personality that stands out amongst its competitors, new employees to do get any brand values passed to them. Although work is noted and recorded, Nike’s values are communicated through an oral tradition. These values are brand values too, not just company values. This brand shows that it indulges in taking risks, being competitive and completely centred on sports. It is also a reflection of its workers (Superbrands, 2002)

Andrex

Andrex is a British brand that manufactures toilet rolls. It is owned by an American company (Kimberly-Clark) and its brand is synonymous with a puppy (Labrador retriever) which acts as its mascot. Andrex has sister brands such as Kleenex and Scottex and they were originally developed in 1942 by paper manufacturer Bowater as a disposable handkerchief (Superbrands, 2003).

Andrex has gone far and beyond to give a meaning to every part of its advertisements and delivery of brand performance. The mascot puppy for example, is a symbol of the qualities at the core of Andrexs’ products which are soft and strong. To date, Andrex has featured the puppy in 120 of its commercials  with other animals such as elephants and panda.

Even though Andrexs’ products are made for use in the bathroom, it was only until 1991 that the puppy as well as the products were featured in a bathroom setting. Among all commercials run, one featuring a little boy was the most success and was also voted as the public favourite commercial of 1991. This particular commercial is still recalled to date irrespective of not being aired on television for more than ten years (Superbrands, 2003).

Andrex used a different approach in 1999 by featuring its brand icon, the puppy, in different promotional devices. For example, Andrex collaborated with Disney’s 101 Dalmatians and also released promotional toys of the puppy. In the same year, Andrex continued to use its brand icon in collaboration with NCDL (National Canine Defence League) to raise over £110,000 for charity work to care for 11,000 dogs.

Andrex took a different approach since its flagship mascot (the puppy) brought the brand so much success. For example, in 2002, Andrex announced a new partnership with the Irish Guard Dogs for the Blind Association whilst still working with NCDL. Andrex also sponsored a guide dogs appeal for blind association by raising more than £270,000 for charitable work (Superbrands, 2003)

Andrex has always employed great marketing strategies that form long term relationships with customers and attract new customers. In the 2002 anniversary celebrations, Andrex held an even called ‘finders keeper’ on a national scale that rewarded customers with the opportunity to win one of 30,000 special prizes that were buried a Labrador puppy like the one in their adverts.

Despite having very few product variety which some see as unglamorous, Andrex is the UK’s number one non-food brand, the sixth largest grocery brand and maintained market leadership for over forty years. Furthermore, the Andrex brand is still growing due to its aim of providing the best value for its customer with key attributes of softness, length and strength. The famous mascot puppy adverts have been aired and promoted for more than thirty years and warrants instant recognition in the market.

Gillette

Gillette is a brand for men’s safety razors and a selection of shaving products owned by P&G. Gillette was founded by an America by King C Gillette who was a salesman. Mr. Gillette founded the revolutionary razor out of frustration with cut-throat shaving and so wanted to introduce a model product that would revolutionise the shaving market – a safety razor.

It was by coincidence that during Gillette’s expedition to revolutionise the shaving razor’s market, a ground-breaking technology was discovered that could cut steel to ‘wafer thin’ sizes. This was then hardened and manufactured in mass production. This is something new that had previously been thought impossible by Thomas Edison (Superbrands, 2004).

The razor proved to be an enormous success with more than 100,000 American owning one straight after the product was put out in the market. It was revolutionary and instantly changed the face of America. To keep up with demand and growth, a special factory manufacturing Gillette razors only was set up in 1095 under a new brand of Gillette Safety Razor Company

Gillette has since developed several product ranges and extensions that have been successful from a basic disposable razor with two blades to an electrically powered shaving blade known as the fusion-pro-glide3. The extension of the brand includes shaving gels and foam that make shaving experience much easier and less irritating to the skin; after shaves, cooling gels, splash, balms, shower gets and antiperspirant sprays.

Gillette needs no introduction in the market as consumers mistake rival brands for Gillette’s own brand. This is because it was the first ever safe shaving blade and is world known. Its recognition rate is incredible and this is wholly due to advertising. The slogan ‘the best a man can get’ which was first introduced in 1980 through a campaign still reverberates among consumers to date. Irrespective of this fame, the introduction of new blades such as the Mach3 and Pro-glider brought even more success to the brand and inspired competitors to replicate the designs and performances. The brand places much of its focus on innovative modern technology. Its aim is to “educate consumers on product advancements and improved shaving performance”.

In 2004, ‘the best a man can get’ campaign was brought back with a different strategy. On screen, the adverts had a lot of updates including a new catchy song, strong imagery of black and white colours, and the brand tapped into consumer emotions to strengthen the connection of the brand with customers. With the diverse product range, specific products were run alongside this campaign to boost their sales revenues by communicating the innovative designs and improvements made to the products and their superiority when compared to rival brands (Superbrands, 2004).

Gillett never fell short of marketing channels; and has always used sports and sporting events to market the brand and any new products. Its first sports sponsorship deal was brokered in 1939 in the US world series via radio broadcasting. Sponsorship has remained at the core of Gillette and the associations created with different sporting organisations remain strong. In 2004, the brand made a huge step by penning a sponsorship deal of airing premier league football matches on sky sports known as ‘Gillette Soccer Saturday’ and that of the world cup too. This made Gillette the longest running sponsor for the event.

Despite being a market leader and being very successful, Gillette continues to innovate its products and introduce new extension such as hair removal gels that help clear the skin after a shave. The image it portrays is of male masculinity, confidence and well groomed, while the female product ranges portray fun, youthfulness and energy. Its products are considered premium in quality with superior performance and sets the industry standards. Gillette is committed to innovation, enhancement and quality products and this is how it maintains its position as a world leading brand.

Discussion

Among other models, the PCDL model can be a great framework for managers and businesses to structure the campaigns of their brands and reach target audiences. In the current economic climate, competition is high and customer expectations have changed so brands face challenges when considering adjusting their brands. Among all alternatives available, brand positioning with focus on customer needs, preference and behaviour can strengthen the brands perception and preference for customers. Employing techniques to focus on customer satisfaction can allow brands to fully leverage their resources. If current products are out-dated, the brand must evolve with the market and demands of the target audience to sustain itself and the market.

For brands to be successful, organisations behind the brands need to channel the brand message to consumer’s minds. To do this, brands must be direct and innovative to get the attention of the customers. Alongside normal media outlets such as magazines, billboards, newspapers, television, radio etc., new advertising and campaign platforms such as social media, internet and sponsorship of events provide opportunity for brands to involve and interact with consumers. These innovative methods can allow managers to lessen the effect of competition on brands. Creatively repeating campaigns with the same message through diverse media outlets like television, radios and internet can greatly improve a brands success. Engaging emotions consumer emotions, attention and mind during advertisement also appeals to consumers. Just as De Chernatony (2010) mentioned, establishing relationships with customers is vital, and this is done through brand imagery.

Brand managers must continuously track and compare their brands against the activities of rivals brands to gauge their own performance in the market. One way of adjusting forward strategies is to monitor performances such as number of purchases, consumption of the brand, percentage of recognition, brand recalls, etc. This means of performance audit allows brands to measure themselves against competitors. If a brand is heavily consumed in the market, it signifies loyalty from consumers and this reduced the vulnerability of customers to competitive action; and can equate to more sales and profits (Burmann & Zeplin, 2005).

Firms that have reputable and desired brand equity among consumers, have a likelihood to leverage equity through extensions of the current brand, extensions of ingredients to new products, cobranding, form alliances with other brands and even good will.  These strategies allow brands to leverage the current brand association to new product categories and stimulate a new development path for the whole brand.

Conclusion

Brand desirability is down to marketing techniques employed and the quality of delivery/ brand performance. Organisations employ several techniques to make their brands appeal to consumers through media outlets and other platforms.

The research focused used a case study approach of three UK brands and evaluated ways in which the PCDL model can be used to make a brand desirable. Whilst the research found that brands can follow the PCDL framework and amass a large customer base, having extensions of the brand either through transferable ingredients or product range is more beneficial to a brand because of the publicity the parent brand gets. These extensions can also build a long-lasting strength in the market and against competitors.

The research reaffirms Aaker’s (2012) point of the need for companies to ensure that brands remain strong through dormant and difficult periods whilst still offering qualities that are synonymous with the brands initial promise.

Use of the PCDL model can help businesses build strong brands especially in unpredictable markets. However, Nike (one of the case study companies), shows that companies can also build reputable and market leading brands without following promotion manuals and copying strategies.

On the other hand, Andrex showed that brands need to build relationships with customers and also engage them emotionally and psychologically. The Andrex mascot (Labrador puppy) is the face of the brand and has helped the organisation form lasting relationships with animal rescue organisations as well as take part in community projects. Customers are loyal to Andrex due to its ability to deliver brand performance whilst bringing together communities.

Gillette on the other hand focussed on innovation and quality to win its market. We saw that apart from delivering on all the PCDL strategies, Gillette reached built its brand as the ultimate must have product irrespective of what competitors offer.

Recommendations

Although the study tried to explore means of brand marketing and customer attraction, the study leaves room for a much broader research whereby statistical data can be used to give accurate reflection of the impact of branding.  Below is a list of recommendations for the improvement of the study:

  1. The study focussed on three UK brands that were biasedly selected due to their top performance and market dominance. Going forward, a selection of more companies will allow for different industry exploration and better analysis.
  2. It is recommended to use include in the analysis, brands that failed, in order for the research to include an example of how to not market or limitations faced by brands in the quest to make their brands desirable.
  3. Primary research would benefit the study since secondary research does not provide current practices and specific brand strategies.

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