11 New Strategic Brand Management by Philip Kotler   4th Edition
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11 New Strategic Brand Management by Philip Kotler 4th Edition


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birth to it. The brand\u2019s
underlying programme indicates the purpose
and meaning of both former and future
products. How then can one identify this
programme, the brand DNA?
If it exists, this programme can be
discovered by analysing the brand\u2019s founding
acts: products, communication and the most
significant actions since its inception. If a
guideline or an implicit permanence exists,
then it must show through. Research on
brand identity has a double purpose: to
analyse the brand\u2019s most typical production
on the one hand and to analyse the reception,
ie the image sent back by the market, on the
other. The image is indeed a memory in itself,
so stable that it is difficult to modify it in the
short run. This stability results from the
selective perception described above. It also
has a function: to create long-lasting refer-
ences guiding consumers among the
abundant supply of consumer goods. That is
the reason a company should never turn away
from its identity, which alone has managed to
attract buyers. Customer loyalty is created by
respecting the brand features that initially
seduced the buyers. If the products slacken
off, weaken or show a lack of investment and
thus no longer meet customer expectations,
better try to meet them again than to change
expectations. In order to build customer
loyalty and capitalise on it, brands must stay
true to themselves. This is called a return to
the future.
Questioning the past, trying to detect the
brand\u2019s underlying programme, does not mean
ignoring the future: on the contrary, it is a way
of better preparing for it by giving it roots, legit-
imacy and continuity. The mistake is to
STRATEGIC IMPL ICAT IONS OF BRANDING 37
embalm the brand and to merely repeat in the
present what it produced in the past, like the
new VW Beetle and other retro-innovations. In
fighting competition, a brand\u2019s products must
always belong intrinsically to their time, but in
their very own way. Rejuvenating Burberrys or
Helena Rubenstein means connecting them to
modernity, not mummifying them in
deference to a past splendour that we might
wish to revive.
Respect the brand \u2018contract\u2019
Brands become credible only through the
persistence and repetition of their value
proposition. BMW has had the same promise
since 1959. Through time they become a quasi
contract, unwritten but most effective. This
contract binds both parties. The brand must
keep its identity, but permanently increase its
relevance. It must be loyal to itself, to its
mission and to its clients. Each brand is free to
choose its values and positioning, but once
chosen and advertised, they become the
benchmark for customer satisfaction. It is well
known that the prime determinant of
customer satisfaction is the gap between
customers\u2019 experiences and their expecta-
tions. The brand\u2019s positioning sets up these
expectations.
As a result, customers are loyal to such a
brand.
This mutual commitment explains why
brands, whose products have temporarily
declined in popularity, do not necessarily
disappear. A brand is judged over the long
term: a deficiency can always occur. Brand
trust gives products a chance to recover. If not,
Jaguar would have disappeared long ago: no
other brand could have withstood the detri-
mental effect of the decreasing quality of its
cars during the 1970s. That is a good illus-
tration of one of the benefits a brand brings to
a company.
The brand contract is economic, not legal.
Brands differ in this way from other signs of
quality such as quality seals and certification.
Quality seals officially and legally testify that
a given product meets a set of specific charac-
teristics, previously defined (in conjunction
with public authorities, producers/manufac-
turers and consumers) so as to guarantee a
higher level of quality and distinguishing it
from similar products. A quality seal is a
collective brand controlled by a certification
agency which certifies a given product only if
it complies with certain specifications. Such
certification is thus never definitive and can
be withdrawn (like ISO).
Brands do not legally testify that a product
meets a set of characteristics. However,
through consistent and repeated experience
of these characteristics, a brand becomes
synonymous with the latter.
A contract implies constraints. The brand
contract assumes first of all that the various
functions in the organization all converge:
R&D, production, methods, logistics,
marketing, finance. The same is true of service
brands: as the R&D and production aspects
are obviously irrelevant in this case, the
responsibility for ensuring the brand\u2019s conti-
nuity and cohesion pass to the management
and staff, who play an essential role in
clientele relationships.
The brand contract requires internal as well
as external marketing. Unlike quality seals,
brands set their own ever-increasing stan-
dards. Therefore, they must not only meet the
latter but also continuously try to improve all
their products, even the most basic ones, espe-
cially if they represent most of their sales and
hence act as the major vehicle of brand image;
in so doing, they will be able to satisfy the
expectations of clients who will demand that
the products keep pace with technological
change. They must also communicate and
make themselves known to the outside world
in order to become the prototype of a
segment, a value or a benefit. This is a lonely
task for brands, yet they must do it to get the
uniqueness and lack of substitutability they
need. The brand will have to support its
38 WHY IS BRANDING SO STRATEGIC?
internal and external costs all on its own.
These are generated by the brand require-
ments, which are to:
l Closely forecast the needs and expectations
of potential buyers. This is the purpose of
market research: both to optimise existing
products and to discover needs and expec-
tations that have yet to be fulfilled.
l React to technical and technological
progress as soon as it can to create a
competitive edge both in terms of cost and
performance.
l Provide both product (or service) volume
and quality at the same time, since those
are the only means of ensuring repeat
purchases.
l Control supply quantity and quality.
l Deliver products or services to intermedi-
aries (distributors), both consistently over
time and in accordance with their require-
ments in terms of delivery, packaging and
overall conditions.
l Give meaning to the brand and commu-
nicate its meaning to the target market,
thereby using the brand as both a signal
and reference for the product\u2019s (or service\u2019s)
identity and exclusivity. That is what
advertising budgets are for.
l Increase the experiential rewards of
consumption or interaction.
l Remain ethical and ecology-conscious.
Strong brands thus bring about both internal
mobilisation and external federalisation.
They create their company\u2019s panache and
impetus. That is why some companies switch
their own name for that of one of their star
brands: BSN thus became Danone, CGE
became Alcatel. In this respect, the impact of
strong brands extends far beyond most
corporate strategies. These only last while
they are in the making, after which they
either vanish or wind up as pompous phrases
(\u2018a passion for excellence\u2019) posted in
hallways. In any case, the corporate brand is
the organisation\u2019s external voice and, as
such, it remains both demanding and deter-
mined to constantly outdo itself, to aim ever
higher.
Becoming aware that the brand is a contract
also means taking up many other responsibil-
ities that are all too often ignored. In the
fashion market, even if creators wish to change
after a while, they cannot entirely forget about
their brand contract, which helped them to get
known initially, then recognised and even-
tually praised. 
In theory, both the brand\u2019s slogan and
signature