2.1.2.2 Branding principles

Brand procedures and branding principles are a necessity to establish an effective brand campaign. Kotler and Pfoertsch argue that successful branding relies on the utmost importance of five branding principles (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006: 162-163):

  1. Consistency 
    • This is the most important branding principle for B2B organizations. To become consistent organizations should leverage this with a holistic approach, far beyond the product or brand. It affects each and every single contact point between the organization and her stakeholders. 
  2. Clarity
    • Clarity makes the brand more tangible and understandable. Clarity is based on the vision, mission, core values and core competencies of the organization. These should be easy to communicate and understand in such a way, that it enables stakeholders to position the brand relevance in their mind. 
  3. Continuity
    • Stakeholders (people) trust the brand that it will deliver what ever it promised based on past experience, they know what to expect. Hence continuity is an important principle to develop brand equity and trust on the long term. Stable brands and predictable outputs will contribute significant to risk reduction.
  4. Visibility 
    • Brand visibility is all about increasing brand exposure and developing brand awareness. 
  5. Authenticity 
    • Brand authenticity is the undisputed origin of behaviourism of all organizational members with the objective of creating the feeling for the customer to own, use or direct a unique valuable product and/or service.

Brand building requires a long term vision and planning, supported by top management and executed thoroughly across all managerial processes. To embed brand consistency and brand clarity (and brand leadership as we will see later) in the strategy process Kotler and Pfoertsch argue to follow a five-step brand building process: (1) brand planning, (2) brand analysis, (3) brand strategy, (4) brand building, and (5) brand audit (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:158-160). See also figure 8.

Sequence of the brand building processes

Figure 8. Sequence of the brand building processes (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:160).

 

To develop the brand onto brand leadership and gain sustainable market share, organizations need to manage the brand carefully in the appropriate direction. For this reason Kapferer stated that the brand must be (Kapferer, 2007:12): 

  • embodied in products, services and places, 
  • put into practice by people at contact points, 
  • activated by deeds and behaviours, 
  • communicated, 
  • distributed.

The principles of strong brands are captured in the brand report card of Keller. After Keller identified ten characteristics that the world’s strongest brands share, he constructed a systematic and uniform manner of valuing brand performance. Although it is developed as audit tool, the characteristics can be seen as a set of branding principles which should be in place. The brand report card is helpful to monitor the brand performance and brand comparison (Keller, 2000, 147-157).

The ten characteristics are stated in the imperative mood and need to be rated between 1- (extremely poor) and 10- (extremely good), the original characteristics are 1-on-1 copied (Keller, 2000, 147-157):

  1. The brand excels at delivering the benefits customers truly desire.
  2. The brand stays relevant.
  3. The pricing strategy is based on customers’ perceptions of value.
  4. The brand is properly positioned.
  5. The brand is consistent.
  6. The brand portfolio and hierarchy make sense.
  7. The brand makes use of and coordinates a full repertoire of marketing activities to build equity.
  8. The brand’s managers understand what the brand means to consumers.
  9. The brand is given proper support, and that is sustained over the long run.
  10. The company monitors sources of brand equity. “

As Keller admits it is tremendously difficult to maximize all ten characteristics, still it is of vital importance to balance all ten. Due to the synergistic effect, excelling at one characteristic makes it less difficult to excel as well on others (Keller, 2000, 147-157).