Brand Equity

Describe the roles and objectives of a brand manager and a brand management team

Brand, or product, management is the other principal area of corporate advertising and in recent years has become one of the dominant fields of marketing, often driving advertising development. Brand management is usually part of the marketing or sales department. The brand manager concept was established in the 1930s by the giant packaged-goods corporation Procter and Gamble and has since been adopted by many companies, particularly those that manufacture food, packaged goods, and many different products and brands.

Corporations that use the brand management system assign one person to a specific product or product group. This executive, often with his or her own staff, handles all the work that needs to be done to advertise and market this product. In many ways, each product is treated as if it were a separate company or "profit center" (Sen, 1998) a kind of company within a company. In addition to advertising and sales promotion, the brand manager's responsibilities can include marketing strategy, business planning, profitability studies, and market research (Lancaster, 1979). Coordinating the advertising is only part of the job of the brand manager, but an important part. The life and death of a product can depend on the effectiveness of the advertising (Lewis, 2009).

The brand manager works closely with account services and the creative services staff at the corporation's advertising agency. In the early stages of an advertising campaign, the brand manager plays a crucial role in interacting with the agency. From the brand manager the agency gets a handle on the direction and goals of the client in regard to advertising for that particular product (Sen, 1998). Brand managers are heavily involved in the development of ideas presented by the agency early on, and later they may sit back and let the agency work its magic, checking on the work periodically to make sure it is in line with the company's objectives (Lant, et al. 2005).

Success in brand management, though, has more to do with being a good business executive than being able to create advertising. A brand manager is really a strongly oriented marketing person, running a business within a business, selling one product (Alpert, 2005). with the advertising being one facet, albeit an important facet, of the business. A person in this position is also involved with product development, product improvement, packaging, marketing strategy, and a host of other details that evolve in the course of selling the product (Baum & Mezias, 2002).

2. Demonstrate how to measure brand equity in a hotel company

Like the hub manufacturer, Arnies Hotel, a small group of finedining seafood restaurants and accommodation in the Northwest, was losing market share. In this case, however, the aging population of customers for this seafood-based chain were literally dying off. The challenge was to find a way to appeal to a younger demographic, while still catering to the needs of its valued, older customers (Rivera, 2004). The restaurant chain had a lot going for it: a loyal customer base, great locations with water views, and personal, caring service. The food preparation, however, was old-fashioned, with a menu that desperately required updating (Kirmani, et al. 2000).

After conducting research on attitudes of both existing customers and prospects in the desired age group, Arnies determined its brand principle focused on the idea of Pacific Northwest favorites. Its brand incorporated the best things about the Northwest -- the hospitality, events, water, salmon, mountains, and food indigenous to the area. Pacific Northwest favorites allowed Arnies to span the generations by focusing its brand on what all its customer segments valued about the restaurant. This is illustrated in Arnies Pacific Northwest logo (Lant, et al. 2005). Pacific Northwest favorites could also be extended to include the restaurant chain itself. Arnies could be promoted as a Pacific Northwest favorite, a tourist destination for Pacific Northwest residents and their out-of-town guests (Bergsman, 2000).

Then came the implementation of its brand. The company put up new signage, redecorated the restaurants so they appeared more friendly and casual to capture the younger generation, and revamped both the cooking techniques and the menu to reflect Pacific Northwest foods, but with a younger bent (Wyckoff & Earl, 2003). However, it was careful to keep things that were favorites of its older clientele, such as early-evening specials and the wait staff's gregarious attitude and willingness to accommodate special requests. In this case, the brand was integrated into all company actions, from food preparation to waiting tables, and the result has been an increase in revenues at all three locations, with people below the age of forty now accounting for 40% of all guests (Hart, et al. 2009).

Arnies prospered while Company XYZ faltered as a result of how closely each company mapped its brand back to its strengths and what customers valued. Whereas Arnies listened to what current and potential customers were looking for and discovered that customer needs intersected the company's strengths at Pacific Northwest favorites, Company XYZ completely ignored both sides of the brand equation (Baum & Mezias, 2002).

Brand management such as that practiced by Arnies has been a cornerstone of the biggest success stories in this century -- from Coca-Cola to Proctor & Gamble. These companies have used their resources to build brand equity -- the value customers give to a brand that keeps its promises.

The reason brand has such a strong impact on human behavior is that it mirrors human nature and the way human beings interact with the world. It fits into the places where we define our hopes, beliefs, aspirations, and friendships. We are relationship-oriented animals and seek to create relationships with almost anything we come in contact with, from people to companies to cars (Lasswell, 2010). In the Integrated Branding Model, buying a product becomes a relationship-building activity, often with a profound impact on our self-image, rather than merely a utilitarian way to meet our needs.

3. Discuss ways to improve and leverage brand equity

Business is all about fighting the fights worth fighting, even if it's not a sure thing. For example, just because you're convinced that it is impossible to get 100% of your customers to pay on-time doesn't mean you don't make prompt invoicing a priority-cash flow is still important. Brand protection is the same way. Just because you can't eliminate all the abuse doesn't mean defending your brand online is not a priority-your brand equity is still important! Also, the truth is that no company accepts brand abuse in the offline world to the extent it pervades the Internet (Bollen, 1989).

Would McDonald's let Burger King put up the Golden Arches in front of all its restaurants to attract customers, only to sell Whoppers inside? Obviously, the answer is no. But on the Web, sites use competitors' brand names or other popular brands to attract visitors, without having a legitimate affiliation. These websites sometimes even sell goods in direct competition to the brands with which they imply an association (Lant, et al. 2005). Should this be accepted because it takes place on the Internet? If revenue is important to you, the answer is a resounding no! (Rivera, 2004).

Who's Responsible?

Another challenge to mobilization is that the consequences of online brand abuse can span many functional areas within a company, including marketing, information technology, business development, legal, and customer service, just to name a few. Not many organizations have a specific individual designated to defend the brand (Swerdlow & Roehl 1998). As such, management of a company's online presence (outside its own domain) doesn't clearly fall within the realm of responsibility of any single individual within most organizational structures. Also, since the issue is new and doesn't fall neatly under any single department's responsibility, funds are not budgeted. This means that paying for intelligence collection would require a cut somewhere else -- a difficult prospect in today's competitive environment where very few items in corporate budgets aren't deemed ?mission critical. The challenge of finding the time and budget for online monitoring can compound a general lack of awareness so that any brand defense initiative immediately has two strikes against it (Alpert, 2005).

Oftentimes, companies don't invest in monitoring online activity until something catastrophic or embarrassing hap- pens-maybe the mainstream press reports a heinous incident, or an executive stumbles across an atrocity firsthand. Few companies remain nimble enough to proactively dedicate staff or re- sources to an emerging issue that spans many functional departments-even when the return on investment is compelling or the consequences of inaction are dire (Hart, et al. 2009). Even fewer have the foresight to align brand defense with compensation structures or performance plans. Aligning incentives with brand protection efforts clearly demonstrates commitment at the highest levels. If properly structured, such incentives can also provide added motivation not only to take action, but to do it right (Parsa, 2006).

Including brand protection in personal and departmental performance objectives can help ensure that managers defend…