Effective Brand Communications Strategies and Repositioning Strategies

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

This is the last part of my "Understanding Marketing" series. Perception is the process of developing an interpretation of a stimulus, or in other words, deciding what a stimulus means. It is perhaps the most crucial process in customer behavior for two reasons:
  • What customers perceive is what affects their actions.

  • What is perceived is not necessarily what is “true”.

Process of Perception

Perception is constructive; people construct interpretations as a function of context.

The meanings are constructed as needed and are based upon two major factors:

  • The “actual” stimulus or event: Exposure and Attention (what is salient).

  • Our prior expectations and what we know (perceptual interpretation).

Brand Elements: Choosing a Brand Name

Brand Elements

A variety of brand elements can be chosen that inherently enhance brand awareness or facilitate the formation of strong, favorable, and unique brand associations:

  • Brand Name

  • Logo

  • Symbol

  • Character

  • Packaging

  • Slogan

  • Colour


How well do the brand elements work together to provide an identity for the product or service?

What would customer think about the product if they only saw the brand elements?

Brand Element Choice Criteria


  • Easily recognized

  • Easily recalled


  • Descriptive

  • Persuasive


  • Fun and interesting

  • Aesthetically

  • Rick visual and verbal imagery


  • Legally

  • Competitively


  • Flexible

  • Updateable


  • Within and across product categories

  • Across geographical boundaries and cultures

Brand Element Choice

Each brand element plays a different role in creating the overall perception

  • Different strengths and weaknesses

Brand elements should be used strategically to achieve a balance and impact.

Need consistency and integration

Brand Elements:

Advantages and Disadvantages




The anchor 

Quick, easy to process and recall

Difficult to change

Globalization issues

Logos and Symbols


Can reinforce associations

Global transfer

Can get outdated

Can be ambiguous/misinterpreted


Rich meaning


Can get outdated

Global transfer

Slogans and Jingles

Can be highly memorable


Convey meaning

Difficult to translate

Musical taste differences



Convey info and meaning

Production issues

Channel concerns

Effect of Brand Names


  • Affects likelihood of purchase.


  • Affects morale and productivity


  • Can limit opportunities - e.g. new products, new regions


  • Can cause subconscious judgments about the company’s merits/strength

Types of Names





Names or describes the product/service

Lean Cuisine


Represents attributes or symbolism



A person’s name


Ralph Lauren


Read worlds with no obvious brand association




Fictional words based on real worlds




Two words merged



Nonsense words, not based on real words


Value of a Good Name

Names for New Start-ups

New businesses need their own websites and most recognizable URLs have already been taken.

Solution: Invent worlds …….

Mibblio, Kaggle, Shodogg, and Zaarly

Picking Brand Names in China

Brand Elements: Colour & Taglines

Rules about Colour

Ultimate goal is to own a colour.

  • (e.g. Tiffany’s light blue, Mary Kay’s pink).

  • Colour can also be used to separate product lines.

Different viewers experience colour differently.

Ensuring consistency of colour across platforms/media is difficult.

Colours can create very strong perceptions.

  • Luxury colours: gold, silver, black, white.

  • Gender colours: blue, pink.

Two Axes of Colour

Rules about Colour


Thought to stimulate the appetite, also love (passion), excitement (e.g., Tiffany’s light blue, Mary Kay’s pink)


Colour most preferred by men; productive colour; curbs appetite


Tranquility and health; money, nature; fertility (M&M’s)


Reliability, boredom, practicality, earth


Purity, innocence, empty, spacious (creates the illusion of space)


Evil, death, mourning, slimming


Bright, gives you energy; been shown to make babies cry; cause eye fatigue


Excitement, enthusiasm, warmth, caution


Calms the nerves, relaxation


Royalty, wealth, success, wisdom


Girl’s colour, calming, warm

Role of Symbols

 Can communicate associations 
 Multiple associations 
 Positive feelings: liking 


Can be tailored to a positioning strategy

Can remove some of the ambiguity associated with brand and/or symbol

Can generate its own equity/emotion (“reach out and touch someone”).

Can reinforce the name or symbol (from sharp minds come sharp products).

Taglines Basics

Must be short

Must be differentiated from competition

Must be unique

Must be easy to say and remember

Cannot have any negative connotations

Can be protected and trademarked

Evokes an emotional response

Types of Taglines


  • Just Do It (Nike), Invent (HP), Think Different (Apple)


  • Moving at the Speed of Business (UPS),

  • Bullish on America (Merrill Lynch),

  • You’re in Good Hands (Allstate)


  • The Ultimate Driving Machine (BMV),

  • There’s No Better Way to Fly (Lufthansa)


  • Got Milk? (Dairy Council)


  • Drivers Wanted (VW)


Brand Elements: Packaging

1930’s packaging research (when self-service supermarkets started becoming more popular).

Can influence at the point of purchase

Can have a continuing influence at the point of consumption

Multiple objectives:

  • Identify

  • Present information (descriptive and persuasive)

  • Protect and allow transportation

  • Store

  • Aid consumption

Creating Impactful Packaging

Understand that package aesthetics and function are both critical.

  • The package has to grab consumers’ attention in a sea of competing messages

  • But it also has to work well so that consumers will buy again.

Know your distribution channels

  • How do retailers view your package?

  • How are channels changing?

  • Which retailers like which package configurations?

Packaging Shapes

Calvin Klein




Brand Elements: Persuasion

Elaboration Likelihood Model

Use of Celebrity spokespeople

An active attempt to change belief and attitude.

Caveat: Difficult!

Elaboration Likelihood Model

Two Routes to Persuasion:

  • Systematic (central)

  • Superficial (peripheral) Processing

Elaboration Likelihood Model

Central Route to Persuasion

  • When motivation (involvement), opportunity and ability to process marketing messages are high.

  • Focus mainly on “central cues” in the message.

Peripheral Route to Persuasion

  • When motivation, opportunity, ability and elaboration likelihood are low.

  • Focus primarily on “peripheral cues” in the message.

Peripheral Cues

Classical conditioning

Reciprocity: you owe me

Consistency: we’ve always done it that way

Social proof: everybody’s doing it.

Liking: love me, love my ideas

Authority: just because I say so

Scarcity: quick, before they’re all gone.

What makes a good celebrity endorser?

General Consideration

  • Celebrity/audience fit

  • Celebrity/brand fit

  • Celebrity attractiveness

  • Practical considerations (cost, celebrity exposure, risk, etc.)

  • Social network

High Q-rating

  • “How appealing is this celebrity among those who do know him/her?”

  • Ratio of popularity/familiarity

  • Conducted by Marketing Evaluations, Inc. (www.qscores.com)

“Transfer of Meaning” Model

Celebrities = individuals charged with detailed and powerful meanings.

Advertising firm choose celebrity that best represents the appropriate symbolic properties of the product.

Consumers derive meaning from celebrities and transfer same meaning to product.

fMRI scans show that there is more brain activation when presented with images of celebrities -- “a visceral reaction to celebrity”.

Source Models

Source Credibility

  • Effectiveness depends on celebrity’s “expertness” and “trustworthiness”.

Source Attractiveness

  • Effectiveness dependent on familiarity, likability and/or similarity

    • Familiarity -- knowledge of the source through exposure

    • Liability -- affection for the source as a result of the source's physical appearance and behavior

    • Similarity -- supposed resemblance between the source and receiver of the message.

Celebs and Models

How are celebrities used in advertisement?

Explicit mode -- “I endorse this product”

Implicit mode -- “I use this product”

Imperative mode -- “you should use this product”

Co-present mode -- celebrity appears with product

Repositioning a Brand

Managing Brands Over Time

Brand equity MUST be actively managed over time.

  • Brand meaning must be reinforced

  • Sometimes brand meaning must be adjusted

  • Branding program will need to be changed and new sources of equity identified and built

5 Rationales for Brand Change

  1. The identity/execution was poorly conceived

    1. Can often be identified by measures of consumer interest, brand associations, sales.

  2. The target for the identity/execution is limited

    1. May need to change to reach a broader market

  3. The identity/execution has become out of date

    1. Markets change such that a working position may become obsolete

  4. The identity/execution loses its edge, become old-fashioned

    1. Consumers and markets change such that positions/executions that were once contemporary become less so.

  5. The identity/execution has just become “tired”

    1. Same over time may become boring to consumers, losing ability to attract attention.

    2. Change can generate news

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

Potential Cognitive Inconsistency

Consistency Theories: Summary

The basic idea is that there is a drive to maintain consistency within cognitive systems. Thus, cognitive structures may change in order to increase consistency among elements.

Managing Brand Equity: Changing Minds?

Evolving Brand Associations

A brand can evolve more gradually to gain more contemporary associations while maintaining familiarity.

  • Symbols: can update without changing meaning

  • Brand Name: can change to reflect evolving identity

  • Slogan: easier to change than the name

  • New Products: Can be true to the core identity, but add a modern, innovative element.

Evolving Trademarks

Change Brand Names to Eliminate Constraints

Boston Chicken              ------------------------> 

Boston Market

Weather Channel           ------------------------>

Weather Companies

Starbucks                        ------------------------->

Example of Evolving Brand Image

Major Points

  • Consistency over time is very valuable in building strong brands.

  • All brand elements should work in harmony to communicate brand identity

  • Change is  sometimes necessary -- but be cautious!

  • Begin by understanding sources of equity and the current contributions to POP and POD, strength, favorability and uniqueness.


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