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Brand management deals with different strategies and processes that are aimed at shaping and permanently influencing the customer’s perception of a brand. As a holistic concept of brand management, brands are viewed as a resource bundle with certain specific features, whereby this resource bundle constitutes the distinguishing features from the point of view of reference groups and customer segments. Brand management aims to introduce and position brands and products into a market and set up the brand such that it remains attractive in the long run.
The brand concept is fundamental to brand management: Here, a distinction is made between the visible and invisible characteristics of a brand. This involves both the product itself, including price, packaging, design, or the presentation on selling point (POS), and the customer’s experiences with the brand, product, or service, the so-called customer experience. The latter also entails emotional and subjective aspects that have gained importance in recent years.
Brand management entails complex processes and methods that are ideally implemented at all levels of a company and supported by the management. If a brand is repositioned, change processes in the company are also taken into account. This is known as change management. Here, it becomes clear that brand management has developed into, or should be, a holistic concept in modern times.
Starting with the promised services, the contract negotiations, up to the service delivery and customer service, all areas of a company are involved in the success of a brand. This includes the brand communication to the outside as well as the internal corporate communication in the context of change processes. If the differentiating features of a brand cannot be experienced internally, customers may consider this as incoherent.
Types of brand management
There different forms and combinations of brand management. When determining what aspects should be prioritized, it is not just the product, brand, and customer group that should be taken into account. The industry, market, and competition should also be considered.
Brand management is usually preceded by a thorough analysis of the current situation, including the product features, market potential, and situation of the competitors. This is then used as a basis to derive the target situation, which can also include monetary target agreements. This is because brand management should ultimately lead to a good market position, higher reputation, and the largest possible base of loyal customers.
- ID-oriented brand management: This entails using specific value concepts, targeted communication, and behavioral branding (also called corporate behavior) to differentiate one’s brand from competitors in order to highlight intangible assets as a reference point for customer groups. Sustainability, use of resources, or responsibility for people and the environment are examples of such intangible assets.
- Function-oriented brand management: These approaches are characterized by the fact that a brand is viewed as a bundle of benefits and quality attributes. Classically, the customer benefits, qualitative features of the product, and the USPs are communicated. Certain customer groups focus on the quality, durability, and product function and only look for products that meet these demands.
- Brand detachment: Such approaches take the market and competitors into account and distance themselves appropriately by defining their own portfolio in a distinct manner. Companies that use this approach often have a particularly different corporate behavior compared to their competitors and are therefore attractive to customers. One requirement for such detachment is the implementation of brand management at all levels of the company.
- System-oriented brand management: Here, the brand is viewed as an integral part of a complex system that coordinates the different elements. The system primarily takes account of potential customers, the employees, management, and the different capital, sales, employment, and opinion markets. The goal is to coherently change and shape different aspects, such as corporate identity, brand mission, public relations, or the corporate image, in order to ensure the perception is shaped positively in all markets.
- Reputation-oriented brand management: Here, it is assumed that the self-perception and external perception are key for brand building and management. The main focus is on the customer perception: Customers will associate with the brand if it appears authentic, attractive, or innovative. Thus, the aim is to create so-called mental structures and memory values in clients, e.g., through a familiar appearance (corporate identity) or a special mission (corporate mission) to be fulfilled by the company.
Importance for online marketing
Branding plays a key role on all levels of digital marketing. May it be the look and feeling when using a website or app, the tonality of a newsletter, or the willingness of the customer service to resolve an issue for the customer and be accommodating as a brand or company. Brand management brings together very different aspects and strategically combines the corresponding measures at the management level (CEO) or that of the communications manager (CCO). The aim is to be present at all customer touch points in a certain way. The hereby used approach is determined in brand management and is usually analyzed and optimized accordingly.
The playing field of digital portfolios is both an opportunity and risk. Although multiple touch points, such as a website, app, and social media, present an innovation opportunity, eventual errors in the implementation and communication in these channels could, at the same time, cause the company to lose its reputation. Therefore, brand management often requires competent and experienced employees, partners, and agencies in order to achieve the set goals and change the customer perception in the long run.