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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trade or service brands. These are economic
distinctions, not legal ones. By focusing only
on branding per se, ie on signs only, the law
does not help us much to understand either
how brands and the branding process work or
what the specific characteristics among the
various players are.
Service brands do exist: Europcar, Hertz, Ecco,
Manpower, Visa, Club Med, Marriott\u2019s,
Méridien, HEC, Harvard, BT, etc. Each one
represents a specific cluster of attributes
embodied in a quite concrete, though intan-
gible, type of service: car rental, temporary
work, computer services, leisure activities, hotel
business or higher education. However, some
service sectors seem to be just entering the
brand age. They either do not consider them-
selves as being a part of it yet or have just started
becoming aware that they are. This evolution is
fascinating to watch, as it highlights all that the
brand approach involves and reveals the speci-
ficities of branding an intangible service.
The banking industry is a fine example. If
bank customers were asked what bank brands
they knew, they probably would not know or
understand what to answer. They know the
names of banks, but not bank brands. This is
significant: for the public, these names are not
brands, identifying a specific service, but
corporate names or business signs linked to a
specific place.
Until recently, bank names designated either
the owner of the corporation entrusted with
the customers\u2019 funds (Morgan, Rothschild) or a
specific place (Citibank) or a particular
customer group. Name contraction often
signals that a brand concept is in formation.
Thus, for example, Banque Nationale de Paris
has become BNP. Some observers consider this
as just a desire to simplify the name, as per the
advertising principle \u2018what\u2019s easy to say is easy
to remember\u2019, as short signatures make it easier
to identify the signer. Such abbreviations have
definitely had an impact; however, they seem
to reduce the whole branding concept to a
mere part of the writing and printing process
solely within the realm of communication.
As they are contracted, these bank names
come to represent some kind of contract instead
of a mere person or place. In order to become
visible, this contract may take the form of
specific \u2018bank products\u2019 (or standard policies in
the insurance industry). But these visible and
easy-to-imitate products are not the expla-
nation and justification for why they have
decided to build a true brand. They are merely
the brand\u2019s external manifestation. Banks and
insurance companies have understood the key
to what makes them different: the relationships
that develop between a customer and a banker
under the auspices of the brand.
Finally, one aspect of service brands that
contrasts with product brands is that service is
invisible (Levitt, 1981; Eiglier and Langeard,
1990). What does a bank have to show, except
customers or consultants? Structurally, service
brands are handicapped in that they cannot
be easily illustrated. That is why service
brands use slogans. No wonder: slogans are
indeed vocal, they are the brand\u2019s vocatio, ie
the brand\u2019s vocation or calling. Slogans are a
commandment for both internal and external
relations. Through a slogan, the brand defines
its behavioural guidelines, and these guide-
lines give the customer the right to be dissat-
isfied if they are transgressed. Claiming to be
the bank with a smile or the bank who cares is
not enough. These attributes must be fully
internalised by the people who offer and
deliver the service. The fact that humans are
intrinsically and unavoidably variable is defi-
nitely a challenge for the brand approach in
service industries.
This is why brand alignment has become so
important if the whole organisation is to \u2018live
the brand\u2019 (Ind, 2001). Brand alignment is the
process by which organisations think of them-
selves as brands. The brand experience in the
service sector is totally driven by what
happens at points of contact, where
customers meet the company\u2019s staff, sales-
people and so on. This is true of Starbucks as
well as of Citibank or HSBC. It is also crucial at
Dell. This company is actually not a computer
manufacturer but a service company, identi-
fying each client\u2019s need and assembling the
product to fit it. There is hardly any R&D
investment at Dell. All the efforts are concen-
trated on the customers and organising the
company by customer segment to better listen
and react. People are essential in this process,
not machines.
Branding in the service sector entails a double
recognition. Within the company, people must
recognise the brand values as their own. The
internalisation process is crucial. It means
explaining and justifying these values to each
cell within the company. It also means stimu-
lating the self-discovery of how these values
might modify everyday behaviour. At the client
level it also means that clients recognise these
values as those to which they are attracted.
One point must not be overlooked. Brand
management in the service sector means not
only delivering a differentiated experience but
ensuring that the resulting satisfaction will be
attributed to the right brand. This is why the
design and branding of all contact points are
so important. Places of business, call centres,
websites and the like must all convey the
brand. Just posting one\u2019s logo on the front
door is not enough.
The human component of the service
In services, there is no difference between the
internal and the external. In other words, it is
what is behind the brand that makes the
brand. Thus, on a return flight from Tokyo to
Paris, customers of the airline are in contact
with its staff for 14 hours at a time. It is the
attentive personnel who carry the brand, not
a few seconds of stealth advertising. This is
what makes passengers forget the frustration
of the delays that build up from the
beginning, disrupting executives\u2019 best-laid
plans. What has built Starbucks\u2019 worldwide
reputation, if not the politeness of its
employees? For products it is quite the
opposite: Evian is visible in bottles, in shops
and in advertising. We never see the factory or
the workers.
The first consequence of this is that the
service brand is constructed internally.
Orange is built up through hours and hours of
training all staff how to behave in an Orange
way, according to Orange\u2019s codes and values.
This concerns all points of contact with the
customer, in the store, from the call centre or
over the internet. The second consequence is
that employees cannot be expected to treat
customers well if they are not happy them-
selves. In order to create the relaxed, warm
atmosphere that characterises Starbucks, its
founder Howard Schultz innovated by
responding to the worries of many part-time
staff: with good health insurance cover, for
Another essential distinction between
services and products is that the \u2018factory\u2019 is in
the store. The location for the service
production (or serviduction, as the late
lamented E Langeard called it) is also the place
of its consumption: post office, hospital or
restaurant. This is why it is so important to
take care of the little details, since they lead to
expectations and feelings. The rise of architec-
tural and interior design expresses the desire
for greater control over the impressions
produced by the immediate environment on
what is known as the customer experience,
and therefore customer satisfaction.
Since service is carried out by people, their
variability is a risk for the brand. The brand
promises regular and dependable quality \u2013
hence the importance of defining strong
behavioural norms, supported by plenty of
training (McDonald\u2019s and Disney are models
of this type). The alternative is to