Strategic Branding Management
These days there is very little that is differentiating different companies. The companies cannot boast of having a better technology as compared to that of other, mainly because of the fact that technology is easily available to everyone and it is easy for the competitors to imitate the same within no time. In this particular environment, it becomes essential for the companies to make sure that they get the min share of the people by means of other ways and creating a positive brand image in the minds of the customers. Most of the good companies have mastered this art of blending corporate social citizenship within their brand promise itself so that all their actions are aligned towards achieving the same. All these great practitioners are of the opinion that by using a smart branding strategy they can create a difference in the crowd of brands that are already present and thus help them in improving their bottom line. Thus the companies have to choose those initiatives that are easy for the customers to recognize and relate to. By means of these events they try and make sure that they get the required visibility in the public (Aaker, 2000). One of the commonly adopted methods by many companies is to take up green initiatives. This has become more relevant in recent times also. By means of this Interbrand survey, they aim at making things clear to the customers on how various brands perform, and thus they would be in a better position to decide. This is in light of many companies using such campaigns as a mask for their operations that have been hurting the people who live in the vicinity of their operations.
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There is a misalignment between what the brands actually do and how they have been perceived in the public. Here communication plays a very important role as this is the only way by which the brands can reach out to the customers and then make sure that they get recognized for the good work that they do for the people.
One of the things that are different in this survey as compared to that of others is that in this survey they have managed to identify those companies who have been putting in an honest effort in improving the society should get the due. There is a clear distinction that is done between what they have been doing and how they have been perceived in the public (Chernatony, 1992). This gives the customers an actual and honest picture of how various brands have been faring. This has also given a direction to various business leaders in deciding how they have been faring and what needs to be done. One other thing that has made this survey an unbiased one is that they have considered only those brands that have been doing this on a consistent basis and it also depends on the level of external reporting that these brands do.
The survey has been beneficial to the customers in many ways. These days there is a huge emphasis that many companies lay on social responsibility. They come up with several CSR activities so that they are able to humanize the brands in the minds of the customers. In this age when there is acute throat competition that exists between various companies having almost similar products, they can attract the customers only by creating stronger brands that can create that brand pull in the market. Customers are more likely to buy a particular brand only if they can associate with the brand in a positive manner. These days many companies are trying to be eco-friendly in an attempt to give it back to the society where they are operating. One of the things that need to be noticed here is that there is a huge difference between how the brands have been performing and how they have been perceived by the customers. This is mainly due to the fact that they have not been effective in communicating their worth to their customers. Many companies like Nokia, HSBC, etc have been doing exceptionally well in terms of environmental sustainability and they have been having several programs that aim at improving the society around them but they have not been communicating well to the customers and stakeholders and hence they have not been able to create that brand perception that they wanted to create. L’Oreal has been the main culprit as we see that there is a huge difference between the actual performance and the perception that the people have in their minds (Doyle, 1991). They can change this by focusing more on communicating these things to their customers rather than only to their stakeholders. Thu this study helps the customers in finding out what actually various companies do and own they have been performing. Nokia, on the other hand, has been losing customer confidence day by day and they have to make sure that they create some meaningful connections out of the social activities that they have been doing for the public. They have to get back the trust in the minds of the customers and this is possible only by means of creating a positive brand image in the minds of the customers.
Similarly, there were several brands like Coke and McDonald’s, etc who were ranked high in the survey who have managed to create a positive impression in the minds of the customers even though they Have not delivered much in terms of the green movement. They have communicated smartly to the customers by means of visuals and colors that have created this impression in the minds of the customers. For example, we can say that McDonald’s has used the color green very effectively so that the customers started associating the brand with green campaigns. Thus we can say that they have effectively used various elements in such a manner that they were able to communicate smartly to the customers that they are doing something for them. One of the best parts that we can notice here is that all the brands that have topped the list were very proactive in communicating with the customers and hence they have created a positive brand image in the minds of the customers.
One of the other things that the customers can benefit from the survey was that they would be able to actually figure out what has been the history of the company in the past. Thus they can see through the corporate gimmick that many companies normally do so as to get hold of the customers. GE, for example, has been extremely successful with its Ecomagination campaign and they have to now live up to the expectation that they have created in the minds of the customers. Thus they have to now ensure that they perform much better than before so that they exceed the expectations of the customers. One of the areas that they have to focus on is the logistics and the transportation part (Kapferer, 1991). This would mean that they have to take their focus away from the products that they are obsessed with. These surveys are also helpful to the companies in a way that they would be able to understand the pulse of the customers and hence they can design their campaigns in such a way that the customers are attracted and they get the required attention that they need. Managing the expectation of the people is one of the things that the companies have to be careful about the same. They cannot just get people to like their brands but they have to make sure that they plan out the campaigns so that they communicate what they are doing for the people in an effective manner.
Such a survey also gives the customers an actual picture of what the companies are actually doing. Even though they are doing many activities for their customers, they are not getting the visibility for the work that they have done. There are many companies who have been doing many things for the green planet, they have not been transparent enough thus this has resulted in them not getting the right recognition that they wanted. Some companies have been transparent about their operations to the public and their work on environmental sustainability is thus known to the stakeholders of the company; while some of the giants like Google have been extremely cautious in making their activities public (Aaker, 2000). In one way being transparent makes the organization good and open in front of its customers and stakeholders and thus they start trusting the brand more where being secretive can give the company certain competitive advantages but at the same time, this also gives a weapon for the competitors to come up with allegations that can damage the brand image that they have. On the other hand, it becomes essential for some of the large corporations to hold some of the information mainly due to the level of activities that they have been doing. Companies like Coca Cola and Google have been innovating so much to make a mark on improving environmental sustainability and they have reduced a lot of costs as a result of the same. They cannot make all of these activities public in nature mainly because then their competitors also would follow the same and as a result of this these companies would lose the competitive edge that they have. Some companies also look at the activities that others are doing and would like to partner with them so that they also get a share of the goodwill. For example, Ford has come with a plan to partner with Google on increasing the hybrid efficiency by prediction of API (Aaker, 2004). So such survey also gives an idea for the top management of various companies to make sure that they enter in a strategic relationship with the companies so that they get goodwill in the minds of the customers.
This also gives the customer an unbiased opinion about the various companies irrespective of the culture in which they are in. In countries like Germany, there are several laws that are mandated by the government, and thus going green is a practice that they have ingrained in their everyday lifestyle. Whereas in China and India, Green is a new concept that many companies have started adopting and there is no particular interest in the minds of the customers in these nations. But in the surveys, it has been seen that while deciding on the brands the customers have proffered brands that are doing well in terms of CSR activities mainly because of the fact that they have been having a positive brand image in the minds of the customers.