“It has to be from Nike!”
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“It has to be from Nike!”

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JUST BRAND IT

As you may have noticed from the background image of FourtyLove.com which is me wearing the Nike Courtballistic 4.3 I am a huge Nike fanboy. I also like the featured image from studiokanu At some point I started wondering why I trust this brand so much and pretty much blindy buy things from them. Since we had to write an essay in Design Theory I combined those and researched about brands and their effects on us. This post is not directly related to Tennis but if you are interested in that I hope you enjoy reading my essay and I appreciate any comments and thoughts on this topic. Which brand are you a fanboy of and why?

ABSTRACT

Customers are very deeply connected to brands nowadays. When they purchase a product the brand name influences the consumer’s choice. Some customers purchase a product just because of its brand name because they believe that a brand name is a symbol and promise for quality. People often come to the assumption that they need certain things when in reality they just really want them, which is a result of brands changing the customers behaviour in terms of purchasing. Since customers have many product choices but they have less time to make a choice , they need help for their decision to purchase the right product with less risk for their needs which is realized with brands.

In this essay I discuss the effects of brands to the modern world and figure out why companies need to establish a brand to suceed in the business life. Furthermore I am going to point out the thoughts of the companies trying to win customers and how they plan to keep them as their customers. The main questions this essay focuses on are; what is the purpose of a brand? Do brands really affect the purchasing decision of a customer? The purpose of this thesis is to create a deeper consideration of what influence a brand can have, when people are going to buy something and how or whether they compare products of different brands with non-branded products. Furthermore I want to identify, if there is a connection between brands and the consumer decision of purchasing. I conducted this study based on theories and theories by myself. I read articles, books and blogs in order to be able to draw conclusions and find answers to my questions.

WHAT IS A BRAND?

Nowadays everyone can name a few companies and their logos. At the same time the customers do not only have the logo and the company’s name in mind, they also remember their own experience with a specific brand. Often those experiences in the customers head are triggered by symbols. “Symbols with all that represent a brand, a tagline, a character, a visual metaphor, a logo, a colour, a gesture, a musical note, a package, or a program. The symbol is a part of brand equity and functions as a tool for maintenance”. 1

HOW BRANDS WORK

A successful way to get a better place in the customers mind are logos and symbols. Customers feel more comfortable with something that is easily identifiable preferably in a positive way. If there is not much difference among brands, then logos and symbols can be a very effective way of differentiating the brands from each other.
“Brand equity is a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol
that add to or subtract from the value provided bya product or service to a firm and / or to that
firm’s customers.”2

Brand equity is a valuable asset for a company, which is important for their brand. A
well branded product enjoys a high level of customer awareness and loyalty. The company has an
advantage through high brand equity.
The financial value of a brand depends on brand strength. Investing in product quality and in
advertising can further strengthen it.
By investing in advertising for a product or in the quality the financial value of a brand can increase.
Brand equity provides a great value for customers; brand equity assets help the customers to
capture and process the brand and store large number of information about it. Brand equity
can help to develop marketing programs and attract the new and maintain the loyalty and faith
of old customers.
The name of the brand is the main part that is responsible for raising awareness. Often the name does not have to be associated with a specific service or product. It is important that the name of a brand triggers experiences the customer made in the past.

Due to globalization a huge amount of products are available in stores all over the world. There are a lot of products that do not have much difference, which can be helped by logos and symbols that make the customer remember and recognize a brand. It also helps the customer to differentiate between all the similiar products.
When meeting someone, you will automatically scan the logos the person has on his clothes and from your experience and knowledge about those brands judge what type of person stands in front of you. There are values of a brand that are not visible to everyone. These values can be based on the association of brands with certain factors, personalities or experiences. These experiences can be negative or positive and this is why it is important for a company to establish a brand with the best possible user experience. The experience by the customer will influence his decision whether to buy or not to buy a specific product. A positive link between satisfaction and usage is what creates a good experience. If the quality of this product is high the satisfaction of the customer increases and he gets more inducements to use the product more often and frequently. This more frequent usage increaes the chances of future usage and purchases of products of the same brand.

BRANDS INFLUENCE OF PURCHASING AND SELLING

In the competitive market, companies are trying to gain better position for
themselves by becoming more customer-oriented.
Due to globalization and better technology companies face a wider range of competitors who offer similar products at different prices. Companies have to plan efficient and competitive-orientated. Competitive advantage can be achieved by designing a product that is not only better in terms of price, quality and design but also by giving customers a promise of good quality products everytime. That expectation customers have due to the company’s promis is based on the brand image. How a customer feels about the service provided depends on whether that experience matches what they were promised. If the experience exceeds expectation, they feel pleased and the brand awareness increases. If the customer does not feel pleased with a prodcut there is a chance that he will not buy this product and will sometimes not even buy a product of this brand anymore because he reflects his experience on all of the companie’s products. The experience of low quality, too high prices and bad design etc. are transferred to other products of the same brand.

Normal product design which includes packaging and typography can not achieve what good branding does. While product design mainly focuses on attracting potential customers by looking interesting and more valuable, branding goes one step further. It creates an opinion of the customer about the product before using it. This opinion comes from the experience gathered in the past and the interesting fact about this is that this experience does not have to be from the same product type. A branded product gives information to the customer he is projecting from another product of the same company. This means that customer that bought and wear T-Shirts by a specific company transfer values like look, comfort and quality to shoes or jeans of this company. This kind of relationship has to develop between customer and company and brings some benefits for both parts. The price usually plays an important role for customers. In contrast, after the relationship has been established, the role of price becomes less important. The customer can trust companies that produce high quality products and does not have to worry about bad quality or products that do not fit to what he needs. He saves money by not having to test other companies.
The companies benefits from branding are also very important. Since customers trust a product with a well known logo on it, it is easier to establish a new product type or a newer version of a product. Branding helps the companies to sell products in different countries. Customers that see a known product in a foreign country and the logo, shape and color will work as a trigger in his mind even if the product is labeled in another language. Furthermore a branded product that is seen many times by a costumer seems to be of high consistency and quality and increases the chance of customers not only buying but following a specific brand. Customers check their mailboxes, the Internet and shops for new products of their brand of choice. However, this results in high requirements from customers to companies and their products. Stuart Agres, Young & Rubicam’s former Director of Corporate Research and designer of its global Brand Asset Valuator study said: “A brand is a set of differentiating promises that link a product to its customers”.3 Those links can be cut off by not meeting the requirements customers set to a company. For customers, that are following a brand, it is very important that its standard of quality maintains since they build something that can be called a material self-worth. Products are checked so that they do not “undermine the individual’s material bases of self-worth and prestige.”4 This happens because customers have pre-conceptions about themselves. This conception reflects the person’s desire how he would like to be. He automatically starts to think about people that are well known is society and about the products they use.
The price for more expensive products often result by the fact that a company sells this prestige that comes with purchasing their products. While companies profit financiallycially from this, customers get a different kind of benefit. On the one hand they feel like buying a product of high quality while on the other hand the purchase of branded products seem to be financially inefficient. Since customers do not want to risk buying a product by a different company and may be disappointed by the quality they stick to a brand which products and qualities they have already experienced. For example, customers do not want to try new or unknown branded cars because they have no much information about the lesser known brand. Usually, people purchase well known branded cars because they might have heard before about brands or they have some information about them from other sources. This makes customer feel more comfortable during the time of decision making as they are not so confident about the knowledge they have gathered about the other brands. Even if brands increase the prices of some products and make customers pay more, they are an important component of the industry mechanism. Without brands customers have no chance of penalizing companies that produce bad quality products. Those companies would not have to change anything regarding their products because customers are not able to differentiate between their products and products of different companies. Exactly the same would happen to companies that provide good quality to their customers. There is no way of giving feedback from customers that let companies change or continue producing bad quality products. Furthermore brands are kind of a security for a company that guarantees the efficiency for their business. This forces a company to keep their quality standards. On the opposite, companies that did not yet establish a brand that is known for positive experience and good quality do not risk that much by experimenting and trying out new things with their products. Since one of the biggest steps in the customers decision making process is the value of a product, there is a high involvement of the customer if the product is expensive. In case of a cheap product the involvement is lower, which leads to an important fact for branded products. The customer tries to gather as information if he is about to buy a product. If it is an expensive product the amount of information he tries to get increases. A branded product has a big advantage compared to a non-branded product if it comes to this gathering of information. The branded product can provide information that are based on experiences and factors beyond the packaging information which can not be gathered from a non-branded product. This often leads to a comparison of branded products. Due to the fact that customers do not like to buy products that are unknown it is also important that they recognize a product as known.

Another important factor for purchasing a product or not is the environment of the customer. It influences most of his purchases directly or indirectly. Environmental factors are, for instance, comments about specific prodcuts taken from other customers and advertising. Both factors will often be transferred to other products of a brand and as a result increase the brands awareness of customers.

SOCIAL EFFECT OF BRANDS

Today nearly everyone follows the pattern of capitalism. This leads to a social structure where everyone tries to become different by getting products that others do not have or think that they are of good quality.
Since every brand differs in names or symbols like logo, design and packaging they make it easier for the customer to differentiate between them but also makes it possible for a company to become different from competitors. Usually those differents create a value carried by the logo of a brand. Often products are not bought because of requirement, but to enhance their self esteem in the society. Products by known brands that are expensive give different information about someone compared to a cheap product. They do not only give financial information but also information about the behaviour, lifestyle and what type of person you are.

BRAND LOYALTY

The brand loyalty shows customer preferences to purchase a particular product by a specific brand. Since customers believe
that a brand offers features, images, or standard of quality at the right price.
This changes the way customers purchases a product. They will purchase a product by a specific brand to test it and will keep on buying the product from the certain brand if it satisfied them.
The amount of customers that are satisfied with a product reflect the brand loyalty.
One of the biggest advantages for a company with customers that have a high amount of brand loyalty is the fact that it is easier and cheaper to sell products to existing customers.
Brand loyalty can only be achieved if there is enough brand awareness build for a specific brand.

BRAND ADDICTION

Steffan Postaer compared the addiction of brands to drug addiction. He said that the effect which appears on customers that tend to buy products by specific brands behaviour of buying products change. They stop comparing products of different brands and do not check products that are not branded for better quality or better prices. This effect can become so strong that products are not bought if it is not available from the customer’s favourite even if they are necessary. This can also lead customers to buy products of their favourite brand they do not even need. Furthermore they sometimes buy products they do not have the money for. The routinization of believing explains this phenomenom. It means that customers that are addicted to a specific brand think that all products of this brand are better than before. They are improved and new and they are life changing. This train of thoughts continues even if this product only has slight improvements compared to the older ones. It becomes routine that brands improve their products everytime. This improvement does not have to be necessary for the customers because the product itself is what they need. Normally a customers decides whether to buy or not to buy a product on different factors like comments taken from other customers, product appearance, advertising,
packaging and price. Brands have the ability to to make customers buy a product even if none of those factors is positive enough to justify a purchase. The factor of “believing” which is routinized by a customer that is addicted to a specific brand is enough to lead to a purchase. 5

CONCLUSION

While writing this essay and getting information from different sources I learned that there are good and bad facts about branding. Brands have a huge impact for the customers decision whether to buy something or not to buy something. Since brands make it easier to differentiate between products and work with logos it is easier to find the right product. Due to branding we can be sure to get a high quality product most of the time without risking to purchase a low quality product. Well known brand companies maintain the standard of quality which means that customers are provided with products they have used. In this competitive market it is a hard task for companies to create a well known brand. A lot of companies that create high quality products to not even stand a chance against the big companies with known brands. Overall I can say that brands became very important to the modern world. They define the customer’s status in the society. When people
use the branded products, it shows the user status or class. Some brand products belong to different
social classes because not every person can afford the same products. The person using these branded products defines his social class in our modern society.
People are getting more and more up to date regarding all different kind of brands. Many people have a huge knowledge about products of specific brands which can be good or bad for the company and the customers demand high standards for brands. Customers are closely linked to their favourite brands and therefore brand names and logos influence their choice most of the time. This means that brands play one of the most important roles in today’s economy and society at the same time.
The conclusion of all those facts is that well branded products can make customers want something they do not need but brands are important for us because they show who we are and make decisions in terms of purchases alot easier most of the time.[/text_output][text_output]1 Aker A. David & Joachimsthaler Erich, Brand Leadership, New York Free Press 2000, p.54

2 David W. Cracens, Strategic Marketing, Eight Edition, p.276

3 Stuart Agres, Young & Rubicam’s former Director of Corporate Research and designer of its global Brand Asset Valuator on http://brandtruth.com.au/2012/11/30/why-brand-authenticity-is-critical-for-custom er-satisfaction/

4 New York Times article: “Tightning the Alligator Belt”

5 Steffan Postear’s blog enty: “In our society of more, brands are as addicting as crack.” on http://godsofadver   tising.wordpress.com/tag/addicted-to-brands/[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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