Branding has become one of the most important marketing tools for hotel and restaurant operations throughout the world.
Though the theory of branding as we know it is only half a century old, brands have been a major aspect of manufactured good for several centuries. One of the most popular sewing machines in the world is Singer. That brand was first in the market place, and for millions of people sewing machines are instantaneously associated with Singer.
“Brand image” today is about positioning and maintaining the status through sophisticated manipulation i.e Dom Perignon champagne is always associated with sophisticated, expensive, glamorous social- and sport events of the glitterati, rich, and famous people.
Likewise, luxury Mercedes models are associated with super-rich industrialists, presidents, and sometimes even very powerful criminal bosses, since marketers cannot control consumer decisions.
Brand image with its psychological underpinnings and ambiguous descriptions tries to evoke a picture in the mind of consumers. Holiday Inn evokes the image of a mid-priced hotel with clean rooms, adequate food quality and service, and extensive reservation system that helped worldwide expansion. On the other hand, Ritz-Carlton hotels evoke an image of luxury operations with well-appointed, spacious rooms, 24-hour room service, business centre and every other imaginable service.
Brand image evoked a set of beliefs ideas, and impressions that a person holds of an object, or an intangible product such as hotel, restaurant, bank, or insurance company.
In the mind of a buyer or potential buyer, a brand consists of number of attributes, which encompass expectations concerning quality, usefulness, durability and benefits. They posit that a brand name and image help consumers distinguish between competing products. There are several levels of meaning of a brand: attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality, quality, durability, practicality a d user/ Attributes refer to the identity of the brand while all other qualities refer to the personality. For example there are various types of watches, all of which fulfil the basic requirement of showing the correct tome. But a rich and influential person will rarely be satisfied with a branded watch associated to be a mass-market producer. Rather, this individual will buy a limited production, high-value brand name to distinguish himself/herself from ordinary folk. Firms use brand names to differentiate their products from those of competitors. In addition, a given level of service or quality associated with a brand name, therefore the consumer feels confident with regard to quality and/or service.
A brand and its image therefore can be viewed in terms of its identity and personality dimensions. Cognitive psychology has long been recognized the vital distinction between verbal and imaginal. The verbal and imaginal distinction is a reliable and robust experiential phenomenon that has marketing value.
Knowing or recalling and “apple” entails the process of mental imaging and its resultant mental imagery that is typically clear and vivid. Conversely, the term good governance entails high verbal and low imaginal processes.
Markets look at brand image as “structure”, whereas brand imaging involving process. Brand names are retained and recalled principally in verbal mode. Brand images on the other hand are multi-sensory, largely non-verbal renderings of the brand as played back in the consumer’s mind, which goes beyond the recall of stimulus.
A brand is a bundle of impressions and associations in the mind of the end user. (Name, concept, imagery, psychological associations and impressions are all components of the bundle. Brands are “positioned” by advertising in magazines read by certain market segments. Relevant statistical data are collected and published in trade magazines and annuals. Radio and television stations compile substantial data about their audiences broken down by the hour).
Advertising and/or media buyers possess detailed information regarding both print and audio publications Positioning is the heart of marketing strategy. Segmentation and positioning represent the “essence of strategic marketing”. A product is positioned in the consumer’s mind by using the following criteria:
For whom is the product?
What is the positioning concept?
When is the concept relevant to the consumer?
Against whom is the concept to be positioned?
Determinants of positioning strategy deal only with what marketers do to consumers, and not what consumers do with what marketers present them
The goods-services dichotomy is principled based on the tangibility construct. A tangible product can be grasped by hand; while an intangible product can be grasped by the mind. There is also an amalgam of tangible and intangible products, I e. Service of food and beverage. While food at least for a while is tangible, service and décor in a restaurant, remain intangible concepts.
Marketers have the responsibility to tangibilize the identity and personality of the brand in the consumer’s mind. According to some marketing gurus, well-conceived marketing strategies “in-tangibilize” the tangible and “tangibilize” the intangible, a process that shifts product perception from physical to psychological and vice versa.
There are much taxonomy of brands. “Shallow” and “deep” brands distinguished by the ability of consumers to recall the sic levels of meaning of brand referred to above.
Functional brands are valued primarily for what they are and do for the consumer. Experimental brands on the other hand are valued for what they do to the user. Experimental brands require end user’s involvement in their use.
Brand imaging strategies deal with stimuli likely to revoke an imaginal consumer response. There are 12 key strategies involved
Imaging via brand names Visual symbols and logotypes
Product attributes and physical evidence
Point of purchase material
Advertising copy, visual and sounds
Infantile psychological recordings
Focal character in advertising
Plausibility of veracity of messenger
Incongruity of stimuli
Brand imaging and the resultant brand imagery are responses or stimuli presented by the marketer. The marketer’s presentation of pictorial or visual stimuli in the wake of say, an advertisement is about stimuli and response of the end user.
is both a noun and a verb. One could image (i.e. process) a brand in as much as one could have a (brand) image (i.e. structure).
Think of Rolls Royce – the knowledgeable consumer immediately has an image of a stately car and at the same time the structure of the car! Now, this, this is a successful branding!
Take Dom Perignon, the knowledgeable consumer immediately associates it with the best in champagne and recalls the package instantaneously.
There are many successful brands that have been ingeniously positioned by marketers, Think of the world-wide successful brews – Guinness, Heineken, Lowenbrau for beer, McDonald’s for hamburgers, Vacheron et Constantin, Rolex, Audemar-Piguet, for high-precision watches, Chateau Latour, Grange-Hermitage, Brunello di Montalcino from Biondi-Santi, Opus One Baron de Rothschild for wine, Petrossian, Paris and New York, for smoked salmon caviar, pate de foie gras, Harrod’s of London for high-end merchandise and exotic foods, Fortnum and Mason of London for rare delicacies, Hediard in Paris of exotic coffees, jams and candies, Fauchon of Paris for exquisite foods and beverages.
Developing a brand image involves marketing genius, hard work, persistence and a lot of capital. Those who are willing to spend the funds and have the knowledge and/or ability to apply it are tomorrow winners!