Competitive advantage of the brand - Sample Essay

I have been asked to produce a report which identifies the characteristics of a successful brand, critically analyses the brand using theoretical concepts and evaluate consumer relationships with the brand and brands in general. Also I have been asked to produce a recommendation to enhance the brand’s consumer image and discuss why brand management is important within organisations. 2. 0 The Brand 2. 1 Brands Brands are often defined as “It is the emotional and psychological relationship” (Ehret, 2009) that you as a business create between your product or service and the targeted customer.

A brand is made up of many concepts such as brand name, identity and experience. The experience is an “individual audience member’s experience as he or she interacts with the brand” (Landa, 2006) so basically it is the psychological feelings created from using a product or service under a certain brand. These feelings can be affected by certain areas of the branding process, for example the colour of the logo or packaging can stimulate differing moods, whereas the quality of the product or service provided can increase a person’s perception or attachment towards the brand.

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In the case of my chosen brand Guinness, the colours of the advertising campaign and the bottle the drink comes in reflect that of the drink itself, acting as a subtle reminder to potential customers. A brand differs from the product or the company because it has intangible benefits that add to the product’s functional or tangible benefits. This creates an added value which is “a relative concept that enables customers to make a purchase on the basis of superiority over competing brands” (de Chernatony, 2006).

In other words, Diageo, the owners of Guinness, can charge a higher price due to the brand holding a more advanced perception of quality. 2. 2 Background of Guinness The Guinness brand is owned, among other brands such as Baileys and Smirnoff, by the large drinks manufacturer Diageo. Guinness is a traditional stout brewed in Dublin, Ireland which has a market presence in over 150 countries including Ireland, US, UK, Nigeria, Brazil and Ethiopia. It fits into the alcoholic beverage sector on a global basis but mainly into the stout/ales sector.

The major competitors for Guinness in the stout market are Beamish and Murphy’s stouts which are also brewed in Ireland. However the main competitors in the alcoholic beverage market include lagers such as Heineken and Carlsberg as well as other ales like Tetley’s and IPA. Guinness’s target market was originally the elderly generation from mixed economic backgrounds who enjoyed a heavy beverage; however the trend has changed to include people from all over the world including Japan, US and Ghana. In 2001 “Overseas sales overtake GB and Ireland sales for the first time, accounting for 50.

6% of total brand volume” (Guinness. com,2011) It is commonly known that people drink Guinness slowly to savour its flavour and quality rather than to feel the effects of the drink. The brand architecture strategy for Guinness is product brand, which is “the assignment of a particular name to one product or product line as well as one exclusive positioning”. This is the strategy for Guinness because it is owned by its parent company, Diageo, and there appears to be no link between Guinness and the other brands that Diageo own. This may be due to Guinness being bought out by Diageo.

The advantage of this is that the brand allows for larger risks because if the brand fails it will not affect the parent company as badly, also they can “occupy precise positions and can be aimed at precise target audiences” (Temporal, 2010) 3. 0 Brand Positioning According to Kapferer brand positioning is “a way of emphasising the distinctive characteristics of the brand that make it different from its competitors” (cited Van Gelder, 2003) Positioning is a very functional tool, making use of the benefits the product can bring to the customer as well as value and product features to persuade customers to buy that brand over others available.

The full potential of a product or service is known as the value proposition. This includes all of the features and benefits provided by the product or service. However it is necessary for a company to select one type of positioning, normally focusing on the strongest part of the product. For example Volvo have a central positioning strategy where they focus on the main benefit of the brand which is safety. This strategy is often used by market leaders because they do not need to stand out from the competition as much as a lower brand might.

Differential positioning is a more focused strategy as it emphasises a particular benefit that the market leader isn’t providing such as Green and Black’s production of organic and fair trade chocolate. This is a stronger strategy than central, for an emerging company because “the value of benefits squarely lies in improving people’s lives” (Van Gelder) therefore it will help to create a firmer relationship with the consumer. Whichever strategy is chosen, companies can express it in a statement, known as the brand positioning statement.

Kotler states that it should take the following form “To (target segment and need) our (brand) is (concept) that (point of difference/benefit)”. This form of statement clearly outlines which customer need will be satisfied as well as the major benefit of the brand which is useful to express a brand positioning strategy. However Kapferer has a differing model made up of four questions: A brand for what, for whom, for when and against whom? Kapferer’s model includes competing brands and helps to communicate the difference between the brands.

This could be better for customers because it displays clearly the target market for that brand and also the other competition that is in the same category. However the model doesn’t necessarily highlight the benefit that buying that brand can bring. For Guinness I have chosen to use the Kapferer model to express their brand positioning. This is because an essential part of brand management is customer perceptions of the brand and this model helps the customer to compare Guinness with its competitors.

This is important because comparison with other brands plays a large part in building the brand perception and with this model, the customer is forced to see Guinness in a better light than the others due to the benefits of Guinness being implanted in the statement. 3. 1 Guinness Brand Positioning Statement: For What? : Uniquely, sublimely brewed Irish Stout For Whom? : People who enjoyed wholesome and full flavoured fine ales/stouts all over the world. For When? : Enjoying at a slow pace in a relaxed social environment whenever the need arises Against Whom? :

Main stout brewers such as Beamish and Murphy’s Seeing as Guinness is the leader in stout sales globally, with “1. 8 billion pints sold every year” (Norwalk, 2011) I think that the central positioning strategy is best because leaders in a market don’t need to emphasize their specific benefits. The Heineken owned brands Murphy’s and Beamish have chosen to use the same type of branding as Guinness especially with the websites and advert themes. Both Murphy’s and Guinness have a time line like “story” on their homepage and emphasise the brewing process as the main selling point for their products.

Guinness states “there are six distinct features that make our beer stand out from the others” (Guinness. com, 2011) and Murphy’s uses the brewing process to explain the product, instead of having a list of products for a customer to look at online. Murphy’s uses phrases such as “superior taste and quality” and “completely natural brewing process” (murphys. com,2011) to express their products as of a higher calibre than that of its competitors i. e. Guinness. 4. 0 Brand Analysis

Brand analysis is often used to investigate how consumers perceive the brand and compare it with other brands available. It is often made up of many different themes, such as identity, image and personality related to the brand involved. As part of the brand analysis I have created a questionnaire in an attempt to get a better understanding of peoples’ perception of Guinness. As a matter of general ethics I asked only over 18s and people who frequent drinking establishments or have purchased Guinness recently.

I have included 2 copies of the questionnaire, one answered and one unanswered as proof of my findings, however due to the amount of answered questionnaires, I have chosen to select only the best information for use as evidence in this report. (see appendix 1) Brand identity can be defined as “The distinctive or central idea of a brand and how the brand communicates this idea to its stakeholders” (de Chernatony, 2006). The identity of a brand helps to build the mental relationship between the corporations, in this case Diageo and the consumer.

Identity is a mixture of 5 different sections; colour, design,name, packaging and logo, all of which are important for establishing the emotional relationship with the customer as well as creating a distinctive style for the brand. The brand was named after the founder of the Guinness breweries in 1759, Arthur Guinness. Brand names are one of the principle components of the branding strategy. It announces the brand to the customer, as well as enhancing the brand identity. The shorter and catchier the name, the more memorable it is for a consumer.

In that respect Guinness is an ideal fit because it is a one word name and it represents the founder of the product itself. However some marketers state that the name should “suggest benefits or qualities associated with the product. It also should be distinctive and free of any negative connotations” (Turley & Moore, 1995) Guinness is too short a name to have negative or positive connotations, but it still has the link with the heritage of the product, which in this case is positive and definitely distinctive.

As with the name, the logo and tag line are simple so as to be memorable. The logo, a golden harp (see appendix 2) represents the Irish heritage as it is a mirror image of the harp of Brian Boru which is on the Irish coat of arms. Guinness’s tag line “good things come to those who wait” accentuates the need to savour the drink for its flavour rather than just to feel the effects of the alcohol. This tag line is short and uncomplicated which adds to the stylish, classy identity created by Guinness.

Guinness has utilised the appearance of the product to help create the style for the brand, effectively persuading customers that Guinness is the brand for them. The majority of Guinness’s identity is a reflection of the product, for example the design of the websites and adverts having a black background with a white border at the top, as well as the packaging which are a black bottle or can with the cream label and logo. Guinness also uses gold and cream font and text to emphasise the richness of the stout and create perceptions of the quality that will come with the product.

Not only does the packaging design help to increase customer perceptions of the product but it also helps customers differentiate Guinness from its competitors. Upshaw (1995) states that “”the identity is the whole fabric of how a product or service is seen by its constituencies” therefore Guinness needed to create a design and style that would increase the positives of the brand, such as the flavour and the superiority and therefore make it more appealing to customers.

Brand Image is described as something that “encompasses both brand identity and the attributes and characteristics that people ascribe to the brand (Biel,1991)” (cited Admap, 2003) which means that it is the perception of the brand in the customers mind. The image of a brand is highly important because it contains all of the ideas and opinions of the brand in the consumers mind, therefore it has to remain positive in order to maintain good consumer relationships. The image is an intangible asset brought to the brand, mainly because of the associations that the customer makes between the brand and themselves.

With Guinness the Irish heritage and the strong links with the name of the brand and the man that made the original stout increases the emotional values, therefore improving the experience for them. From the questionnaire conducted, over 50% of the answers to the second question “why do you think people like Guinness? ” related to Ireland or the brands Irish heritage. The image congruence hypothesis created by Heath and Scott in 1998 states that consumers enhance their “self- concept” by purchasing brands that are perceived to be similar to their own self image.

The feeling of self- concept is “generally been identified as a multidimensional concept comprising five components: the ideal self, the apparent self, the social self, the perceived self, and the actual self” (Burns, 1979; cited Heath & Scott, 1998) According to this hypothesis, Guinness needs to create and image that relates to a large amount of people so that their target market is larger. They achieve this by having a simple stylish design, using gold, black and cream themes to exude quality, which will attract customers who have a stylish self image as well as the need for higher quality products.

Quality was a major adjective used as an answer in the primary research undertaken, with it occurring in nearly every questionnaire. The third concept that I feel is related to Guinness’s brand analysis is brand personality. Personality is an overall description of the brand, covering the qualities and associations as well as the product itself. The personality links the image and identity of the brand and helps consumers reach self conceptualisation which is basically the consumer formulating a reason for buying a product and explaining a purchase with the use of rational or emotional benefits.

A brand personality is created from people applying personality traits to the brand, anthropomorphic personification of the brand helps the consumer feel that similar to the brand and make comparisons between their own personality and that of the brand. Therefore for a brand such as Guinness which has a large relationship with Dublin and Ireland heritage, as well as a reputation for superior quality, people find it very easy to relate to it.

This is shown through the sales statistics because the international sales are larger than those of Ireland or the UK, which means that the Irish connection is a unique selling point for Guinness which is accentuated by its brand image and identity. When Guinness announced the launch of Guinness Mid strength, Tim Hayward states that “They’ve worked very hard to help Guinness drinkers picture themselves as twinkly-eyed, Byronic bar-room intellectuals. ” (guardian, 2009). De Chernatony (2006) created a brand pyramid (see appendix 3) which helped to create a personality from the attributes or basic features of the brand.

The first two levels of the pyramid, attributes and benefits, are the basic levels achieved by most brands and are essential for a brand but not often distinguishable from its competitors. The third level, emotional rewards, is difficult for a brand to create but once recognised gives the brand a competitive advantage. The fourth and fifth levels are the ones that powerful brands reach earlier than others and helps set the personality and consumer values of the brand and helps to solidify the competitive advantage of the brand.



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