Corporate branding is where the corporate name is the brand, and here the products tend to be described more in alpha numeric or letter terms, and not have distinctive brand names. Such is the case with BMW. Corporate branding gives each product the strength of the corporate brand values and positioning, and saves a great deal on advertising and promotional spend. It builds up the strength of the corporate brand and its financial value.
Corporate branding is very appropriate to those companies engaged in service industries, as their products are more intangible in nature. When consumers cannot see the product, the company brand name helps give them an assurance of quality, heritage, and authenticity.
Branding, a term used more and more often in the 90s, is more than just the image of a particular product. Branding is defined by Susan Friedmann, the Tradeshow Coach, as a basic marketing concept that is designed to set your products and services apart from the competition. Ward Randall, managing partner of The Brand Consultancy, a company specializing in brand strategy, management, and positioning, takes the definition a step further, saying, "Brands are all about making promises and keeping them."
In a competitive marketplace, companies brand their products to help differentiate them from the competition. It would be naive to suggest that product branding in general is wrong or should be avoided, but it is fair to say that software branding is too often executed poorly. The goal of software branding is to associate the brand with the style and quality of the product and its experience. Too often, developers attempt to achieve this by drawing attention to the program itself. The result is to distract users instead of delight them.
It can also go further to product range branding, where a number of products or services in a broad category are grouped together under one brand name and promoted with one basic identity. An example here would be Intel's Pentium and Celeron ranges of microprocessors. Whilst generating some economies of scale in advertising and promotion, care must be taken to ensure that the extensions do not step away from the central proposition of the main product brand, and that they do not cannibalise its sales.
The task of product branding is to build intangible values and associations around the tangible product in order to differentiate it from physically identical products that are available. Thus, a Nokia-branded cell phone suggests something different to a buyer and owner than a Samsung-branded cell phone, even if the quality level and feature set of the two phones are identical. Or detergent powder branded Tide vs the same powder branded Wheel signal powerful perceptual differences. Emotional benefits, sensory cues and brand personality leveraged in advertising are powerful ways to add layers of emotional meaning and intangible values to the basic product and differentiate it.
House or endorsement branding uses both ideas, and the corporate name is placed alongside the product brand name, as is the case with Nestle's Milo. This allows the product brand to assume its own identity and positioning, but draw strength from the values of the corporate brand, and give consumers the assurance, in many cases related to quality, of the corporate brand. There are a variety of ways in which this can be achieved, with the corporate brand in lesser or greater prominence. House branding also gives some economies of scale in A&P, and helps with the introduction of new products, where it can be very difficult to break into mature markets without the endorsement of a strong and credible corporate parental brand name. One possible disadvantage is where the product is not favourably received and causes damage to the parental brand name.
Bearing this in mind, it becomes clear why regularly fine-tuning your branding strategy to better suit the desires of your customers is absolutely crucial. This is especially true if your firm is in a particularly competitive market, up against several rival products or services which claim to do what yours does, and possibly even better, through their own branding. It is specifically your branding that will separate your product from the competitors.
Companies sometimes want to reduce the number of brands that they market. This process is known as "Brand rationalization." Some companies tend to create more brands and product variations within a brand than economies of scale would indicate. Sometimes, they will create a specific service or product brand for each market that they target. In the case of product branding, this may be to gain retail shelf space (and reduce the amount of shelf space allocated to competing brands). A company may decide to rationalize their portfolio of brands from time to time to gain production and marketing efficiency, or to rationalize a brand portfolio as part of corporate restructuring.
In other companies the product manager creates both the MRDs and the PRDs, while the product marketing manager does outbound tasks like giving product demonstrations in trade shows, creating marketing collateral like hot-sheets, beat-sheets, cheat sheets, data sheets, and white papers. This requires the product marketing manager to be skilled not only in competitor analysis, market research, and technical writing, but also in more business oriented activities like conducting ROI and NPV analyses on technology investments, strategizing how the decision criteria of the prospects or customers can be changed so that they buy the company's product vis-a-vis the competitor's product, etc.
In smaller high-tech firms or start-ups, product marketing and product management functions can be blurred, and both tasks may be borne by one individual. However, as the company grows someone needs to focus on creating good requirements documents for the engineering team, whereas someone else needs to focus on how to analyze the market, influence the "analysts", press, etc.
When such clear demarcation becomes visible, the former falls under the domain of product management, and the latter, under product marketing. In Silicon Valley, in particular, product marketing professionals have considerable domain experience in a particular market or technology or both. Some Silicon Valley firms have titles such as Product Marketing Engineer, who tend to be promoted to managers in due course.
Slogans can be just as difficult as names to create. Saying something powerful and original in a small number of words is a tough part of the branding process. In order to generate ideas for slogans to lead your branding, you should always stay focused on the potential customer. What are they looking for in a product such as yours? What values and aspirations do they expect from a firm producing it? Why should they buy your product in particular? What do the products and slogans of your rivals represent? The slogan you choose should attempt to take into account strong answers to each of these questions.
Marketing is the process by which companies satisfy customer wants and needs. This forms the basis of repeat business. A popular definition of marketing is the Four P's: product, price, promotion and place (distribution). Decisions in these areas cannot be made without a clear idea of the benefits sought by customers and those offered by the product. Branding is a device that telegraphically communicates those benefits to the customer.
Great product names drive strong brands. A great software product name is memorable and concisely conveys the benefit of the product, providing distinction in a crowded market. Hire a branding professional to help you choose the right product name. In the long term, a well-chosen name is far more important to your branding effort than details like logos, color schemes, and control theming.
Introduction - introduce a quality product with the strategy of using the brand as a platform from which to launch future products. A positive evaluation by the consumer is important.