Before going into the brand image of NIKE, there is an importance to know what exactly Brand and Brand image is. Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, design or combination of all these which identifies the goods or services of one seller or the group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors (Armstrong & Kotler, 2003: 288). From a world of branded goods we have moved to world of branded companies, branded services, branded organizations-even Governments. Life is now branded. Not only have brands changed, so has our relationship with them (Baskin & Earls, 2003). As said by Clifton et al, 2003: 18 in the twenty-first century, branding ultimately will be the only unique differentiator between the companies. The ingredients in a brand comprise of the product itself, the packaging, the brand name, the promotion, the advertising and the overall presentation.
Today everything in the market is branded and consumers prefer the branded products. They even prefer the daily products like milk and fruits with a particular brand. Consumers know more about the brands they buy, and see more aspects of them and the context they operate in. They feel different relationships to different brands, depending on the type of subjective needs which the brands do or don't satisfy. Consumers who always purchase the same brand know that they can acquire the same features, advantages and quality each and every time they purchase. There was a quotation by Group Chief Executive of United Biscuits like "Buildings age and become dilapidated. Machines wear out. People die. But what live on are brands" (Feldwick, 2002: 3). Consumers perceive a brand as taking into account a set of values which they can specify that they will reject, or tend to reject, it's their point of view how they accept the brands. Therefore brands are the lasting assets as long as they are kept in good shape and continue to offer consumers the values they require. The reason that consumers believe in brand is because, on the whole, they keep their promises. Most successful brands continually improve or update their products to remain competitive or to meet changed market requirements.
In order to answer the question what is the importance of Branding to customers we can say that the most powerful brands don't come from marketing but they come from great customer experiences. Product quality, consistency, creativity, performance, value, features, design and style are the main drivers of today's conspicuous consumer. Consumers require branding as it helps them differentiate a product from the thousands available in the market. They are so overwhelmed by the variety of products available to them that making the right choice on the basis of quality, price, and stylishness becomes difficult.
The way how a brand is perceived and the impression person have of the brand, and therefore of the corresponding company, product(s) or service(s) is known as Brand Image or how a company's product is perceived (seen) by the consumer. Keller (2003: 66) defines brand image as perceptions about a brand as reflected by the brand associations held in consumer memory. Yastrow (2003: 4) says to a company that "Your brand is not what you say you are....Your brand is what your customers think you are."
Brand image is generally carefully developed by the brand owner through marketing campaigns or product positioning. The image of a brand may develop spontaneously through customer responses to a product and it can be seriously damaged through inappropriate advertising or association with somebody or something that has fallen from public favour.
The brand and image of a business are vital to its success. Strong brands can generate customer trust, which is particularly important in e-commerce where there are often concerns over privacy and security.
In truth brand image is every customer/prospect's interaction with the company that creates an impression. It is the company's character. It's a conglomeration of interaction and observation by people outside the organization: how the phone is answered, the quality of customer service, how the trucks look, or even how the web site looks. It's what makes a particular company unique among the hundreds of competitors.
The brand image of a company should communicate the difference between itself and the competition� the reason for being, it should reinforce the company's corporate message so that it helps make the company stand out in a crowd of look-a-likes. It can create perceptions but to create that brand image requires branding and this is confirmed by Scott M. Davis when he says "Image and perception help drive value; without an image there is no perception". A brand image should be positive. It should reflect the character of a company. It should look like what a company is, what it feels, and smells like the company--it must be a reflection of the best traits. We often hear from some companies that they would like to build their brand image after they have been in business for a number of years. It is great if the company is thinking about their brand image, but it would be better if they had considered that brand image from day one!It is better to take positive steps in developing a positive brand image rather than letting it just happen.
For a company to identify its brand image it has know why it is in business, what makes its business unique, what can customers get from them where they can't get elsewhere whether it is their price or quality or service or guarantee or the product, Is there something about the service that the customers actuallyenjoypaying the company money to do? Which part of their business are they passionate about, what is their target market? Do they have a clearly defined service? Customer profile? Prospect demographic? And at last what do they offer to their customers? If the company is well perfect in answering all these questions it can identify its brand image. There are three branding image elements like Logo, Slogan and image identifier. A company has to check whether its logo reflects the company's image and how good its slogan is and what does it say about their business.
In many business markets the company's reputation has a strong influence on buying decisions which may differ from the more specific product related influence of the brand's image.
The Nike logo was purchased for $35 in 1971 from Portland State University graphic design student, Carolyn Davidson. According to Davidson, Phil Knight, company founder, said at the time: "I don't love it, but it will grow on me."The Nike swoosh has undergone very few modifications. Today the famous swoosh is synonymous with quality sports gear. Nike is seen as a high profile example of a company that cares more about its brand image. Nikepays close to a billion dollars each year to promote itsbrandimage.
Armstrong, G. & Kotler, P. (2003) Marketing An Introduction. 6th edn. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Baskin, M. & Earls, M. (2003). Brand New Brand Thinking. London: Kogan Page.
Clifton, R., Simmons, J., Ahmad, S. & Anholt, S. (2003). Brands and Branding. Wales: Creative Print and Design.
Cretu, A. E. & Brodie, R. J. (2007) 'The influence of brand image and company reputation where manufacturers market to small firms: A customer value perspective'. Industrial Marketing Management. 36(2). Pp. 230-240.
Feldwick, P. (2002). What is Brand Equity, Anyway?. Great Britain: Page Brothers Ltd.
Keller, K. L. (2003). Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity. 2nd edn. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Yastrow, S. (2003). Brand Harmony. 1st edn. New York: SelectBooks.
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