The Ultimate Guide to Strategic Brand Management

“The brand is a principal repository of meaning in consumer culture, in both a residential and generative sense. It is both a storehouse and a powerhouse of meaning.”

John F. Sherry Jr. in Kellogg on Branding

Phillip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, in their seminal work entitled Marketing Management, define ‘strategic brand management’ as involving ‘… the design and implementation of marketing activities and programs to build, measure , and manage brands to maximize their value. The strategic brand management process involves four main steps:

  • Identifying and establishing brand positioning
  • Planning and implementing brand marketing
  • Measuring and interpreting brand performance
  • Growing and sustaining brand value.”

In this article, we’ll give a high-level overview of the various steps that make up strategic brand management.

Identifying and establishing brand positioning

First up, you have to create your particular brand. It’s all about establishing differences – in the minds of consumers – between your products and/or services and those of your competitors. For your customers, you’ve got to answer three main questions:

  • What is the product and/or service?
  • What does the product and/or service do?
  • Why should consumers care about it?

Planning and implementing brand marketing

Secondly, you’ll need to develop a branding strategy. To do this, you’ll need to decide on the nature of new and existing brand elements to be applied to new and existing products.

The choice of how to brand new products is especially significant. When a new product is introduced by a firm there are three main choices to be made:

  1. New brand elements can be developed for this new product.
  2. Some existing brand elements can be applied.
  3. A mixture of new and existing brand elements can be made use of.

‘Brand equity’ refers to the added value that is inherent in products and services. This is reflected by how consumers think, feel and act towards the brand. This is in addition to the prices, market share and profitability that the brand commands for the firm. Brand equity  is an important and intangible asset that has psychological and financial value for the firm.

Digital marketers build brand equity by creating the right brand knowledge structures with the right consumers. This process consists of all brand-related contacts whether marketer initiated or not.

Measuring and interpreting brand performance

Brand tracking studies gather data from consumers on a routinely over time. Tracking studies characteristically use quantitative measures to give marketers current information about how their brands and marketing programmes are performing. These types of studies are a way of understanding where, how much and in what ways brand value is being shaped.

Growing and sustaining brand value

The following could potential affect a brand:

  • Alterations in consumer tastes and likes,
  • The appearance of new competitors or technology, or
  • Any development in the marketing environment.

In almost every category of product, there are instances of once brands which were once prominent and admired that have fallen on hard times or, in some cases, have disappeared.

Saving a brand’s image requires that either that it returns to its roots and lost sources of brand equity are restored or that new sources of brand equity are established.

Brands can play a number of different roles within the portfolio of brands that a company has. They may expand coverage, provide protection, extend an image or fulfill a variety of other roles for the firm. Each brand name of a product must be positioned well. This means that, brands can:

  • Increase coverage,
  • Decrease overlap, and
  • Optimise the portfolio.

There are many benefits for customers and firms that brands offer. They are valuable, intangible assets that need to be managed carefully. The most important part of branding is that consumers perceive differences among brands in a  product category.