Brand associations

Invariably all brands come to acquire a meaning in the minds of customers. Customers associate different dimensions of the product including its use and use situations to the brands. Brand association, therefore, is anything linked to the memory of a brand. Thus a jingle like “Happy days are here again� has been associated in the customer’s mind with Thumbs up. Surf is linked with the economy-minded middle class housewife “Lalitaji�- in the ads. It is important to not only know the association that exist with a brand, but also know the strength of these associations. For example, the name Tata is associated with quality. It is important to know how strong this association is and for the family name like this, which are the products where this association is the strongest.

Based on these associations (which are also developed as a result of customer’s experience and exposure with and to the brand), customers form an image of the brand. This should generally support the positioning platform which the marketer has taken. A well-positioned brand can help in creating an appropriate brand image.

Brand association helps build brand equity by:

1.Helping a customer to process and quickly retrieve product information.
2.Differentiate the brand from competitors.
3.Provide to the customer a reason to buy.
4.Help in creating positive attitudes or feeling towards the brand.
5.It provides the basis for product line extension.

Among the type of associations, a brand may develop are:

(a)Country or geographical area, i.e. the home of the brand. This is particularly useful in global marketing.
(b)Product attributes like a herbal beauty cream and tooth paste or tooth powder associated with the Vicco brand.
(c)Intangibles like image of prompt after sales service or customer service with international banks like Hongkong Bank.
(d)Customer benefits—- this could even be psychological.
(e)Relative price—Premium price brands in different product groups reflect customer’s perception of their quality.
(f)Use or application.
(g)User or Customer.
(h)Celebrity or person-“The beauty soap of the film stars.�
(i)Life-style or personality.
(j)Product class and

Perceived Quality

One of the desired associations a firm seeks for its brand is customers’ perception of high quality. For, if the brand is perceived to be of premium quality, the customer will be willing to pay a premium for it. The firm will have greater trade leverage and channel members are going to have greater interest in dealing with such brands. A high quality brand also provides an adequate reason for the customer to buy it. It is important to note that perceived quality is not necessarily the same as manufacturing quality or product based quality. Perceived quality is how the customers evaluate different brands on quality and hence need not be as objective as the other two are.

Other Proprietary Assets

Other proprietary assets of a brand include its name, patent, channel relationship, etc. It’s important to note that a good and cordial relationship with channel members can always help enhance the brand equity. That’s because of the interest channel members will have in the firm’s brands. Developing exclusive relationships, dealer councils and creating rewards for high performing dealers are some of the ways by which these relationships can be strengthened.

Finally, a marketer has to consider the issue of extending the brand name to other products. In deciding to extend or not, the marketer should consider whether the new product will enhance the core brand’s equity and whether the brand name aids the extension process. The worst that can happen is that the new product may create an association or image that can harm the parent brand. A marketer needs to be careful of such a crisis developing through his new product decisions.