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Article: branding and marketing plan

Article: Managing the brand through a marketing plan

Branding: How to manage it within a marketing plan of a small and medium sized business
Planning, executing and controling the branding of small and medium entreprises (SMEs, SMBs) throughout a marketing plan

Danny Abramovich,, 2010

Everyone has a name. In most cultures a name is comprised of a first name and a surname, while in other cultures such as Iceland, people often have no family name. This is because a person’s name in Iceland is linked to his or her father’s first name. For example, if you are named Adam, and Stefan is the name of your father, your name in Iceland is Adamstefansson which means Adam the son of Stefan. Therefore the telephone directory in Iceland is arranged by first name, which do not change upon marriage. It’s all about the local culture.

Beyond names of people, everything recognized by mankind has a name and often can be broken down to many related terms thanks to a series of sciences. Med school students learn all the terms that detail the anatomy of the human mouth and can name all of the 12 muscles that are involved in one smile.

Many people have nicknames. In a world that is becoming increasingly inter-cultural people often facilitate communication with others by using a common nickname or a local-friendly name. Many native Chinese students I came across in Europe responded to names such as Helene and Kelly without any correlation to Xu Xiangjie and Zhang Tzu Yu.
Even products and services that are commonly used have nicknames and shortenings if it’s the Telly for television, Fridge for refrigerator, Tube for underground or Vid for video.

Only the names of a few people are long lasting. Examples of these commercial terms include such iconic names as Henry Ford (since 1903) and Walt Disney (since 1923). You might not recognize Bill and Dave, although their surnames are Hewlett and Packard, initials HP, or Richard W. whose family name is Sears. You might not recognize Ingvar Kamprad although his initials are known more as the first part of IKEA, a company Ingvar founded at the age of 17 in Sweden, selling pens and watches door to door.
In contrast to a 4th generation cell phone, only a few products and services last for many generations or date back to ancient times: Cooking utensils, jewelry, cosmetics, medical advice, etc.

It’s never too simple, OK? In the Knowledge Age, everyone is looking for ways to simplify the process of information. How R U 2day? I’m J - has a clear meaning typing-in 14 characters and signs instead of a minimum of 20.

Simplification is achieved by using a combination of buzzwords, shortenings, abbreviations, acronyms, slang, symbols, numbers, formulas, images, arrows, colors, etcetera (etc.), and the use of the culturally defined uniform standards that use these simplified terms to create smoother communication.

The term ’OK’ originates, according to several sources, from the frontier of the First World War when a daily report of the number of dead was transmitted to the headquarters. 13K meant 13 dead soldiers and 0K meant no dead for the day. That’s OK.

What is KSC? Simplicity must be taken one step further as we constantly use multiple senses to capture and release a simple term as OK by using our voice and tone, and often a non-verbal gesture.

To complete the complexity, a simple piece of information has different senses in different cultures. The proposed formula for complex communication is as follows:

         (Keep It Simple) X (see/ hear/ smell/ taste/ touch) X (Cultural Attributes)
                                                       or simply:
                              KIS X SENSES X CA = complex communication
                                                   or even simpler:
                                         KSC = complex communication

The brand. Once upon a time, when a farmer needed to distinguish one cow from another in a herd, he needed to create terminology that would suit his language, and that’s how the term brand came about. ’Brandon’ is the heated metal tool with which cattle was marked – the term Brand comes from the root word meaning "burn".

As many people, businesses, products, and services represent a brand name intended to be "burned" into our awareness as targeted audiences; there are too many of them around. Therefore, the brand’s opportunities and threats must be managed even in a small and medium business, especially when growth and expansion is part of the founder’s vision.
As marketing can be simply defined as ’catering to human needs’, a brand of a company, roduct or service can be managed best through a marketing plan.

Branding within a marketing plan. When preparing a marketing plan for an existing small or medium sized business, the first marketing objective has to do with the offer. In marketing terms, among the key elements that comprise the offer are the quality of service, the price, and the brand. You can improve the quality standards of the service, you can enhance a clearer discount and rebate policy to your prices, but what about the brand? How many resources should be allocated in order to develop the brand so that it may become an asset. An asset in the eyes of end users as well as an asset in the eyes of your accountant.

Small and medium business can manage their brand
A marketing plan is made up of four chapters answering four questions. The framework of the questions and their respective answers are the same for the brand in both small and medium businesses.

One - Where is our brand so far?
The optimal answer can be delivered by your potential customers and actual consumers, being addressed preferably by a third party such as a marketing research firm. They can share their perceptions regarding whether the competitive brands are gaining or losing awareness with respect to your existing brand. Only your clients can confirm if your brand is one of your top three strengths or not. Furthermore, the clients can best relate to your brand functional and sometimes emotional needs.

Two – Where is our brand going to be next year?
The answer starts with the simplest decision about promoting the existing offer with the existing brands – how much should be invested to do more of the same. It continues with what’s called brand strategy, which emphasises one of the two: either brand extension which expands an existing brand towards new products, or to develop new brands for existing products, derived brands. Such a decision relies on the desired market segments and the desired perception of the brand by those segments.

Three – How is our brand going to achieve its objectives?

The answer starts with a cooperative approach with completing brands all the way to what’s called co-positioning; together with an optimal cooperative company or organization extracting a third brand which is co-owned. The Danone Institute is co-owned, and so are Sony-Ericsson and SMART by Swatch and Mercedes. Small and medium businesses can do the same on a scale of exchanging shelf space and co-funding joint advertising efforts.

Given that the action plan around brand management enhances marketing communication efforts, it is no wonder why that many advertising professionals took over this issue of branding and brand management.

Four – How can we control the branding outcome of the action plan?
There are many issues that are difficult to measure, and that’s where the answer lies. Which measurable criteria can assist us to manage branding? The answer brings us back to our potential customers and actual consumers. Simply ask them in an indirect official way or in a more direct non-official way:

As far as you perceive the following brands, what score would you allocate to each one based on a scale of 1 to 4, when 1 is low and 4 is high, regarding brand awareness - do you recognize it? Brand comprehension – do you know it? Brand attitude – do you like it, do you prefer it, are you convinced by this brand? And finally - as far as you perceive the following brands, what score would you allocate to each one based on a scale of 1 to 4, when 1 is low and 4 is high, regarding your intention to purchase it?

Branding keywords
brands, branding, brand attitude, brand awareness, brand comprehension, brand conviction, brand extension, brand management, brand names, brand perceptions, brand preference, brand recognition, brand strategy, derived brands

Marketing keywords
Abbreviations, acronyms, actual consumers, buzzwords, co-positioning, cultural attributes, existing business, marketing, marketing communication, marketing offer, marketing plan, marketing research, medium business, names, nicknames, potential customers, process of information, products, services, simplicity, simplification, small and medium business, uniform standards, vision

Companies mentioned
Danone Institute, Disney, Ford, Hewlett & Packard, IKEA, Sears, Smart by Swatch and Mercedes, Sony-Ericsson.

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