Friday, March 25, 2011

Dissertation on Branding

Dissertation on Branding

In order to discern if ‘BRANDS’ have become the ‘PRODUCT’ we must first evaluate where brands have come from and what infact a brand entails.

Branding is commonly mistaken to be advertising, however advertising ironically is very much a major part of the branding process. Branding is an essential part of the company, infact its interwoven with the company’s heart and foundation of its identity.Identity and advertising are interwoven with branding, but are used as a vehicle to illustrate a specific brand and its message to a target audience. Identity and advertising becomes a channel which allows its audience to interpret the brands message, its purpose, value and worth.

The rise of brand identity can arguable be traced back fifteen years ago to a management theorist, in the mid -1980’s. He came up with the innovative idea that: “Successful corporations must primarily produce brands, as opposed to products”.


After this idea in the 1980’s, we have all seen how multinational corporations have all had a dramatic growth in wealth - but most startlingly, have also influenced the whole world, its culture, life styles and customs, in fact their way of life. The mid 1980’s therefore, started the boom of putting the brand before the product, although corporations always understood that having a solid brand name was very important to the company, they still put the product before the brand.

But now, came a new type of corporation to rival traditional companies, corporations which today use the brand to influence not only sales, but society and cultures throughout the world markets. Today companies such as Nike, Intel, Microsoft and later Tommy Hilfiger are known throughout the world.

These new corporations were leading pioneers in the art of branding. They understood that producing the goods was only part of what the company needed to do in order to be really successful. Many of these companies today sub-contract the producing of the products to other companies. A high percentage of these are overseas -- which keep production costs down. These include companies such as Nike and Gap, who produce their products in ‘sweatshops’ often paying its workforce low wages, whilst charging western consumers high prices to buy its ‘band’ name.

The real wealth produced however in not in the production, but in the products marketing. This tactic has been so successful that today many of our best manufactures no longer produce their products, but simply buy products and then brand them as there own.

These corporations therefore, must constantly be seeking new ways for marketing their goods by constantly considering new imagery through research. The public are often sent questionnaires to research products and offered a reward if they ‘fill it in’.

One of the most innovative ideas in marketing a ‘brand’ is to produce a feeling, between it and the consumer. Nike used a marketing campaign which infuses the consumer with the feeling ‘just do it.’ This, plus the brand induces the feelings of being a winner. ‘You’ can win the race or complete the task, just by wearing the product, but it must bear the brand, Nike. The brand then becomes a Brand Identity.

The above paragraphs have allowed us to understand the differences between a product and its brand, leading us to a brand identity. I am now going to discuss two advertisments in order to illustrate how this brand identity works and how it effects our lifestyles . How companies target different audiences in society and cultures in order to sell their products.

Nike is one of the giants in advertisement of its brand identity and spends more than $500 million dollars a year on it. Scott Bedbury was head of marketing at nike, and he oversaw the launch of the ‘Just do it’ slogan. In this quote from him he explains his techniques used to infuse Nike and starbucks coffee brand with meaning.

“Nike for example, is leveraging the deep emotional connection that people have with sports and fitness. With starbucks, we see how coffee has woven itself into the fabric of peoples lives, and that's our opportunity for emotional leverage..... A great brand raises the bar- it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, weather it’s the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you’re drinking really matters”

So what is the deep emotional connection in this advertisement?, and how does it sell itself in a particular lifestyle?. The product is the red fleece jacket and the image is cropped so you don't get to see the whole jacket, only three quarters of it. This says to me that either Nike produce such good products that you the consumer don't need to see the rest of the jacket to know its the jacket you want.

Or that you already know what it looks like due to already owning one or seeing someone else wear one. The man in the image has his arms crossed with a serious look on his face implying he is serious about his sport, as it is a sporting brand or more so appealing to the younger generation who seem to think that is the ‘cool’ way to be and wearing this brand helps u achieve this. The model in the advert also is a famous athlete, which people generally teenagers aspire to be like. The target audience i would think were teenagers as they dominate the consumer market for clothing and other branded goods, as they have more free money to blow than most adults. So it is not surprising to find Nike pitching its lifestyle branding at them, hoping that this is not just an a teenage faze but will stay with them as the grow up, consuming more and more of that brands products trying to keep up with the new cool of the companies imagery of how your lifestyle should be.

In a general overview of this advertisement the brand is selling itself through a jacket which implies to the target audience, wearing this branded jacket makes them ‘cool’ and tougher in the eyes of there peers. Other implications of the advert like wearing this brand will help you achieve your goals to be a sporting hero are misleading and false.

Nike CEO Phil Knight says:
“For years we thought of ourselves as a production-orientated company, meaning we put all our emphasis on designing and manufacturing the product. But know we understand that the most important thing we do is market the product. Nike is a marketing orientated company and the product is our most important marketing tool”

This just proves the point that you do buy the brand and not the product, but lets discuss another advertisement from another leading company to see if they sell there brand identity any differently.

Tommy Hilfiger is a company run entirely through licensing agreements, with Hilfiger commissioning all its products from a group of other companies: Jockey international makes HIlfiger underwear, Pepe jeans London makes Hilfiger jeans, Oxford industries make Tommy shirts, the Stride Rite corporation makes its footwear. Tommy Hilfiger manufactures nothing at all. So in this advertisement we can see a range of Hilfiger products that are not designed or made by Tommy Hilfiger only their name implanted on the product is theirs. In the advertisement there are a group of friends, or they appear to be by there relaxed attitude to each other and close proximity to each other. There is a large american flag in the background and a strap line to go with it:

“The real american fragrance”

This would imply to me that theses teenagers are american, wearing Hilfiger clothing and products are sitting down having a good time relaxing with there friends, and by wearing Hilfiger products this is the lifestyle you will achieve to. So the Tommy Hilfiger brand identity would appear to me to say that its a relaxed laid back company, that is cool to wear and your friends will think so to if you wear there products. Also the girl in the advertisement is smelling one the of male models neck, admiring the Tommy fragrance and her arm is also around his shoulder, implying the fact she is attracted to him or she is already his partner due to the fact he uses Tommy products.

Overall the Tommy brand identity is saying it will get you friends attract women to you and make you look cool. The advertisment is not simply trying to sell you an aftershave that will make you smell nice, but sell you the Tommy identity along with it. Or maybe the tommy identity and the aftershave comes with it.

These two adverts are both from clothing companies who sell various products, within their brand name. eg. watches, aftershave shirts etc. However, brand identity in both adverts is the same. What these products, but mainly the brand states - your are buying an identity. This brand is ‘you’. This is not solely an item of clothing, this is not just to keep you warm or to tell the time or smell nice. You are buying a lifestyle and a BRANDED LIFESTYLE. It says ‘I am one of life’s achivers, I am not poor, I am ‘cool’ and people do respect me, for being another brand clone with the other millions of people who just want to fit in with the fashion of the time.

I personally , do not agree with the this type of lifestyle advertising. Corporations using this method of selling are exploiting the consumers dreams and goals, and interfering with there lives. The general public on a whole do not understand these tactics which are used to sell them products, and the great influence this has on them, and their subconscious mind. Also the dramatic effect this has on culture for the worst. These corporations exploit poor countries where people work excessive hours for often the subsistence wage to produce these products for the western world. It is also slowly seeping into the poor countries as well, imposing upon them the belief of these branded lies.

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