Posts Tagged ‘perception’
Often you see a great brand trying to come up with an extension and fail and some great brands extending their brand successfully. Maggi is a good example for successful brand extensions and Harley Davidson is a great example of brand extension failures. Let us see the hows and whys:
Maggi is a brand which has high brand equity and enjoys a great number of loyalists. It is a great product and is an established player in the market. Maggi trying to expand the market and its market share has launched different variants and has entered into categories like soups and sauces. This has been a great success with high brand equity for the brand ‘Maggi’ and is the in-home product in every Indian’s house. Maggi rightly understood the core values of the brand and came up with supportive and rational brand extensions that go in line with the customers perception of the brand.
Harley Davidson, one of the greatest motorcycle brands of the century also enjoys high brand equity and loyalists. Harley Davidson users just love the brand. The company decided to capitalize on this high brand equity and started to sell branded merchandise – Harley Davidson T-shirts, socks, cigarette lighters, aftershaves, and perfumes. Clearly the Harley Davidson loyalists are not happy with these introductions. This diluted the brand too early in the case of Harley Davidson because it enjoys a much focussed group of extreme loyalists to the brand. These people don’t like the brand to be freely available to every Tom, Dick and Harry.
The lesson learnt is the rules are always not the same to everybody. One should really understand the customers and their perception of the brand. Marketers should understand the core values of the brand and then come up with strategies around the core values. Just because your brand is great at tough shoes doesn’t mean it can be extended into leather with that perception of toughness and masculinity.
What is a Brand?
The names Tata, Nokia, Google and many others are one of the biggest brands in the world. So what really is the name Tata or Google is? Is it just a name or more than that?
I define Brand as ‘a network of experience’. Let us understand brands with the example of Google. If I ask you to write a phrase that describes Google, most people would say innovation, technology, cutting-edge research, great brains, great technology, information to the world etc.
Take a moment and think why we say those phrases.
- Because we experience the innovation of Google.
- Because we hear people experiencing the innovation of Google.
- Because we hear the aspirations of Google
- Because we see such brains at Google
- Because Google says so
and some other reasons.
If you observe carefully, what we said is what we experienced. A brand is an experience, in fact, it is the perception derived out of the experience. Suppose you used a Tata car for some years and your experience is as follows:
Experience: The car gives good mileage and requires minimum maintenance.
Perception: You automatically create a perception that Tata cars require less maintenance and have great mileage. Wrong!! You will actually think ‘Tata’ gives great mileage and requires less maintenance. This is the trick, what we experience is not exactly what we perceive. Why?
When we experience the car, we realize this is something good for us. When we see the name on the steering or anywhere on the car we see ‘Tata’. So whatever good experience we had, we immediately map it to the name ‘Tata’ because that is what we see.
The brand ‘Tata’ is created!!
The qualities of a product are perceived to be the qualities of the name present on the product. Simply, people perceive the qualities of the product to be the qualities of the brand name. Why? Because that is the only way they can distinguish between the products. Later, any product coming out of that brand, we associate the qualities of the brand to the product. It is:
Product Qualities à Brand Qualitiesà New Product Qualities
So remember that brand is a perception. Perception is the result of something. Perception cannot be created but can be influenced.
A brand is what your product is, how your product behaves, the experience of everything, the perception of the product, etc. So, marketers use all these techniques to influence your perception of the brand.
Creating a brand is all about creating a unique experience, which is also called differentiation. Remember this differentiation need not only come from the product, but from any experience.
So when people perceive Woodland shoes to be tough, people perceive Woodland to be tough. So marketers will look for category opportunities where this perception can be leveraged like leather bags, etc.
Once you have a perception. You may
- Look for opportunities to leverage this perception (Woodland example, Tropicana as breakfast)
- Change the perception into something else
- Strengthen the perception and grow into areas which strengthens the brand perception
- Come out of the perception totally
- Leverage the perception across other categories and to enter new markets
So, the perception may be the country of origin of the brand, the visuals used, qualities and almost everything of everything can be used to perceive. So, all these are elements present in brands and branding.
Remember every business action results in a perception, and perception creates your brand. Branding is pretty much the affect and how you influence/manage the affect by using the parameters of perception.
This is the brief introduction about Brands and Branding. Thank you
Brand Positioning and Product Positioning
Brand Positioning is the perception of the brand, and Product positioning is the perception of the product. Your product positioning may or may not influence a change in the brand positioning. Example: Tata Nano is the product and Tata is the brand. The perception of the brand ‘Tata’ changes due to the launch of the product Tata Nano. Similarly, Tropicana positioned as a breakfast drink. Here we are trying to change the perception of the usage of Tropicana (banking on the health perception of the drink) which is a product positioning. There is no change in the brand positioning, however, the brand will be more seen in the household and there will be some affect of this product positioning on the brand.
Similarly, sometimes a change in brand positioning is required and is achieved by new product launches and price modelling etc. Example Van Heusen wants to be seen as a youthful brand, so it launches or comes up with promotions in that line to influence the perception of the consumer.
A brand is a human perception and perception cannot be created it can only be influenced. It is people who created brands, and brands make promises. Most people think a brand is a logo. A brand is not a logo, it is the experience and your perception of that experience. Even if there are no logos, people still create brands for themselves like the bakery at the corner sells the finest cakes and cola. Everybody is a brand.
People create brands because they don’t want to evaluate again and again from scratch. Tomorrow even if you don’t get the best cake from your bakery at the corner, you may still feel it is the best because of your earlier perceptions formed. In fact, there are a range of unperceivable or immeasurable differences that are influenced in our perception by brands. It is not something that somebody has created, it is created by people. In fact, as people all of us are also brands.
This blog is following a debate with my colleagues over how you distinguish between a perceptual benefit and a real benefit.
Every product has some real benefits and perceptual benefits. For example, in the case of a sports bike, the real benefit could be having a speedy ride on the roads and the perceptual benefit could be having a macho image or getting a girl. The perceptual benefit depends from person to person based on his perception of the brand image. With the same sports bike, you may have some other perception altogether.
Now I come to the point which created the debate. Let us take the example of an aromatic soap. There is a complete consensus that the real benefit of a soap is to clean the skin. Now coming to the aroma of the soap, there is a difference in opinion on whether it is a perceptual benefit or a real benefit. My take on it is as follows:
There are two cases of usage of perceptual benefit.
Perceptual benefit to mean customer’s association:
If you think of the perceptual benefit from the customer’s association perspective, the perceptual benefit can be perceived in different ways. My perceptual benefit of possessing an iPod may be different from that of the other. The simplest way to categorize is ask if the product management induced the benefit which is true in the case of an aroma for a soap. The aroma is deliberately given to the soap which is a real benefit. In the case of the sports bike, the perceptual benefit of getting a girl is not productised, rather it is perceived by the consumer based on the brand image. In this case the macho image is a perceptual benefit because you are not doing anything in your product management to give a girl along with every bike.
Perceptional benefit to mean intangible benefit:
If we use the word perception in ‘perceptual need’ to mean intangibility then aroma of a soap is a perceptual need.
Perception may happen in many ways, communication is just one way to perceive something. The difference between perception and communication is: Perception is the subjective feeling that comes as a result of the objective communication.
Communication is objective, whereas perception is subjective. Perception depends upon various factors such as background of the individual, psyche, economic and social factors and a lot others. Though the brand communicates the same values to all the people in a target segment, the values are perceived differently based on various factors of an individual. For example, a school boy on his way to school is given a Frooti daily by his mother. This boy when he is grown up will have a biased loyalty to Frooti, though there are better brands in the market. It is not about the objective value of a drink, it is about the subjective emotion that the boy perceives in Frooti.
A great brand strategist understands the perception of their target consumers. He makes them perceive what he wants them to perceive, and he brings out an emotion in them. One of the best examples for this is the choclate Kit-Kat. Kit-Kat in Japan means good luck. The Japanese kids felt that Kit-kat brings good luck to them and it soon became a ritual to eat Kit-Kat before an exam. There are similar examples such as the number eight in China, people sitting in a Volvo car when they feel insecure, and many others.
You are a brand, people perceive you.
Suppose there are twins for one of your friends, and it is absolutely difficult to distinguish between them. To make matters worse, they have the same name and they are always dressed in the same attire. It needs some effort to understand who is who in such a case. Now, imagine that one of them has a lot of interest in Mathematics and he always wears a t-shirt that has equations printed on it. This time it is easy to distinguish among them. This is what is called creating a new category.When you create a new category, you become the first and you will have an opportunity to become a leader in that category. So, when people find difficult to perceive your brand, you need to do something to help them easily distinguish your brand. Your brand should stand for something different from the competitors. You need to find something that people associate your brand with.
As time progresses, people start associating that kid with mathematics the way Volvo is associated with safety. It doesn’t matter if Volvo is really safe or the kid has lost his interest in mathematics, people will always associate him with mathematics because that is what with which he helped them perceive better. What matters is what you make people feel and associate the brand with, creating a Brand Identity.