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Definition: branding from BUSINESS: The Ultimate Resource

a means of distinguishing one firm's products or services from another's and of creating and maintaining an image that encourages confidence in the quality and performance of that firm's products or services

Summary Article: Branding
From Key Concepts in Public Relations

Branding is the process by which companies differentiate their products from their competition. In developing a unique identity, which may include a name, packaging and design, a brand is developed. In developing and managing this unique identity, the branding process allows organisations to develop strong emotional and psychological connections with a product, goods or service. This, in turn, eases the purchasing decision. Branding affects stakeholder perceptions and the marketing task is to ensure these perceptions are positive. The stronger the branding position, the higher the price you can charge for that product with a corresponding increase in sales volume.

Branding is an important element in consumer markets and also allows the development of a new product by facilitating new product lines or product extensions by building on the consumer's perceptions of the values and character represented by the brand name. Brassington and Pettitt (2000) maintain this points to the most important function of branding which is to create and communicate a three-dimensional character for a product that is not easily copied or damaged by competitors. A brand therefore is understood to be any name, design, style, words or symbols, singly or in any combination that distinguish a product from another in the eyes of the customer.

In the UK in 1998 the three biggest brands were Coca-Cola, Walker's crisps and Nescafe coffee. Sales and advertising spend for each brand was in excess of £580m and £31.41m for Coca-Cola; £400–5m and £6.88m for Walker's crisps; £285–90m and £6.24m for Nescafe coffee.

Barbie® is an iconic global brand. Born in 1959, she is now approaching early middle age and her 50th birthday. This has been achieved through a process of rebranding which has seen the original Barbie® go through three facelifts in 1967, 1977 and 2000 reflecting women's changing role in society.

  • Bainbridge, J. and Curtis, J. (1998a) 'The UK's biggest brands, part 1', Marketing, 30 July: 22-5.
  • Brassington, F. and Pettit, S. (2000) Principles of Marketing. London: Pearson.
  • Carpenter, P. (2000) e-Brands. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Hussey, M. (1998) 'Seriously, it's Barbie', Express, 26 January: 19.
  • Jobber, D. (1995) Principles and Practice of Marketing. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Elliot Pill
© Bob Franklin, Mike Hogan, Quentin Langley, Nick Mosdell and Elliot Pill 2009

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