The Role of Advertising in Brand Image Development Assignment

The Role of Advertising in Brand Image Development Assignment Words: 6657

The role of advertising in brand image development Introduction The notion that there is no objective reality and that people trade in the realms of perception and image represents one of the most important tenets of human understanding. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of human relationships with business organizations, i. e. the domain of marketing. Indeed images at all levels of marketing have taken on an increased importance in recent times.

Corporations have become obsessive about public perceptions of their activities while at the level of the product/brand there has been a “shift in attention away from the physical aspects and functional benefits of products to their symbolic associations, expressiveness” (Poiesz, 1989, p. 461). A variety of reasons for this increased emphasis on image in marketing can be suggested: qmarketing’s increasing cognizance of the behavioral aspects of consumer decision making; qaffluent society’s predilection with symbolic rather than purely functional aspects of products; an increasing variety of relatively homogeneous products often involving high product complexity and confusing messages which increase consumer reliance on the image aspects of products; qthe fact that technological innovation, increasingly susceptible to rapid imitation, may no longer offer previous levels of sustainable competitive advantage (King, 1991; Parker, 1991; Wells, 1989). The purpose of this article is to examine the role which advertising plays in developing brand image. It commences by examining the various levels of marketing imagery and focuses on those elements which the company controls in the image formation process.

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The concept of branding is reviewed as is the relationship which the brand forms with the consumer. The two main schools of thought with regard to advertising effects are examined in terms of their effects on brand imagery. Levels of marketing imagery Businesses conjure up a multitude of images with their many publics, with much attention focussing on the corporate/product relationship. That is the approach a company follows in communicating to its publics the relationship of its products to one another and to the overall corporate entity (Olins, 1989).

While this and similar classifications (Gray and Smeltzer, 1985) focus on the producer’s corporate/brand relationship, three key levels of imagery pursued by business entities, namely corporate, retail and product/brand, are briefly examined for the purposes of this discussion. Various definitions of corporate image are suggested (Bernstein, 1985; Olins, 1989), however, that proposed by Gunther (1959) captures the essence of corporate image: “The corporate image may be defined as a composite of knowledge, feelings, ideals and beliefs associated with a company as a result of the totality of its activities” (p. 2). While it is believed that “each individual of the public with which your company comes into contact has a mental picture of your company” (Messner, 1963, p. 63), it is common practice to categorize individuals into various groups or corporate publics, each of whom will, as a result of seeing a different face of the organization, form different images. Various numbers and labels for these corporate publics are proposed in the literature (Evans, 1973; Gray and Smeltzer, 1985; Martineau, 1958).

Retail or store image, defined by Martineau as “the way in which the store is defined in the shopper’s mind partly by its functional qualities and partly by an aura of psychological attribute” (1958, p. 47), represents an important level of marketing imagery. Martineau’s definition manages to embrace what has become the two major strands of explanation of retail image formation, the cognitive approach (Mazursky and Jacoby, 1986) and the behavioral approach (Kunkel and Berry, 1968), with these perspectives being combined to form explanations of how consumers build and receive images of retail organizations (Brooks and Davies, 1989).

Brand image is variously defined as “the set of beliefs held about a particular brand” (Kotler, 1988, p. 197) or “a set of associations, usually organized in some meaningful way” (Aaker, 1992, pp. 109-10). The “brand” is often regarded as separate from the functional product, with the brand being grafted on by advertising, thereby completing the transformation process from functional product to immortal brand. Kim (1990) suggests that “a product is a physical thing…a brand has no tangible, physical, or functional properties…Yet it is just as real as the product.

Disembodied, abstract, ephemeral…it exists like a myth in the imagination of the consumer” (p. 65). The product is seen as providing core functional benefits while the brand is responsible for creating the magnetic human-like aura around the actual product. While the term “brand” was originally associated with the product-level of marketing imagery, and later extended to include both services and industrial products (Egan et al. , 1992), the skills/techniques which brand management implies have been extended to all levels of marketing imagery.

Thus it is now quite common to talk of branding at both the corporate and retail level of company activity, as well as the traditional brand domain, namely the product (Grier, 1991; King, 1989; Levy, 1990). From identity to image One of the most notable features of this area of marketing is the confusion in terminology employed. At the corporate level, image and identity are often used to mean the same thing (Ind, 1990) while “marketers often use the terms brand equity, brand image and brand personality interchangeably” (Tauber, 1988, p. 26).

Essentially “identity means the sum of all the ways a company chooses to identify itself to all its publics…image on the other hand, is the perception of the company by these publics” (Marguiles, 1977, p. 66). In seeking to manage the image development process, a company will focus on that element which it can control, its identity. Ultimately image is formed in the mind of the receiver. In short, identity is sent, while image is received/perceived. These truisms regarding image and identity are relevant at all levels of marketing imagery. At each level at which it is attempting to manage the image development process an organization has available a wide variety of elements of its identity. Olins (1989) defines corporate identity in terms of four key elements, product/services, physical environment, information, and staff behavior. Topalian (1984) agrees with this concept of constituent elements of corporate identity, but restricts his classification to three key elements, physical, operational, and human characteristics.

At the level of retail identity Martineau (1958) defined four key dimensions, layout and architecture, colours and symbols, sales personnel and advertising. Similar classifications of store identity components are also proposed by Kunkel and Berry (1968), Lindquist (1974) and Mazursky and Jacoby (1986). At the product/brand level the components of identity are in effect the elements of the marketing mix, which combine to form the image of the brand in the mind of the consumer. While, as stated, the elements of the marketing mix constitute the components of brand identity, the importance of these elements can vary.

Product features which deliver meaningful product benefits are generally central to the brand image creation process in that it is the ability of the product offering to satisfy buyer needs that is at the core of image formation. However, where there is little real functional difference between competing product offerings, then the weight of the image creation task falls more heavily on other aspects of identity. In such circumstances particular emphasis is placed on marketing communications in general, and advertising in particular, in order to provide the basis for consumer discrimination. The concept of branding

The concept of branding represents one of the central tenets of marketing. Various definitions of a brand appear in the literature. Kotler (1988) defines a brand as “a name, term, sign, symbol or design or combination of them, which is intended to identify the goods of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors” (p. 463). This and similar type definitions fail to capture the essence of what branding involves or achieves. Inevitably couched in flat, abstract and lifeless language such definitions focus primarily on the ingredients of brand identity and as such fail to capture the essence of branding.

While branding provides both the customer and company with practical benefits such as identification, handling, tracing etc. , the development brand image involves the marketer in breathing life into an innate product. In effect he/she is endowing it with a distinct personality and human characteristics in the eyes of the consumer. In doing so he/she is establishing an invisible, yet magnetic relationship between brand and consumer by involving the brand in the world of the consumer. In order to be successful, images and symbols must relate to, and indeed, exploit, the needs, values and life-styles of consumers in such a way that the meanings involved give added values, and differentiate the brand from other brands” (Broadbent and Cooper, 1987, p. 3). In the creation of a brand certain key elements connect, these include the product and its abilities/constraints, the brand and its name, the brand symbolism and imagery and the consumer. These raw material elements of a brand are illustrated in Figure 1. It has long been recognized that products have meanings for consumers beyond providing mere functional utility.

Symbolic consumption was recognized by Veblen (1899) in his Theory of the Leisure Class and termed conspicuous consumption. Noth (1988) quotes Karl Marx and his metaphor of “the language of commodities” in which “the linen conveys its thoughts” ( p. 175) while Barthes (1964) discussed a semiotic threshold with the semiotic existing above the “utilitarian or functional aspects” of objects. Given the symbolic usage of brands it is no surprise that semiotics, as the study of signs in society, is increasingly being used in understanding consumer behavior.

Initially used in facilitating understanding of the consumption behavior surrounding cultural products such as film and other works of art (Holbrook and Grayson, 1986) and fashion (Barthes, 1983), its widespread usage to interpret symbolic consumption in all aspects of consumer behavior is anticipated (Mick, 1986). Within the marketing tradition with its reliance on economic theory and related emphasis on rationality in buying behavior, the recognition of products having symbolic meaning for consumers coincided with marketing’s courtship with the behavioral sciences in the 1950s and 1960s.

Gardner and Levy (1955) suggested there was a need for a “greater awareness of the social and psychological nature of products” (p. 34), while Levy (1959) captured the essence of symbolism when he suggested that “people buy things not only for what they can do, but also for what they mean” (p. 118). The concept of brands as social signals is now well accepted with congruity between brand and user self-image regarded as a key motivational factor in consumer choice (Belk, 1983; Sirgy, 1982). Lannon and Cooper (1983) suggest that:

Brands are used as a sort of language. Brands tell you a great deal about who you are, where you are in life, what you are and where you are going. Brand choices are as much a part of ourselves as the way we speak, the words we use, our dialect, dress, gestures and language. Brands are part of ourselves and we are part of our brands (p. 205). A recurring, though rarely explicitly stated theme in the literature on branding is that the physical product satisfies the functional benefits sought by consumers while the “brand” provides the requisite symbolism.

In effect, the consumer is being sold at two levels of values, intrinsic values centering on perceived product quality and extrinsic values focussing on the symbolic content of the brand. Intrinsic values derive from consumer beliefs about the product’s capacity to satisfy his/her functional desires while extrinsic or added values largely derive from the brand imagery created by advertising. As stated, where particular products/brands are seen as relatively homogeneous, e. g. colas, lagers, etc. , heavy emphasis is placed on adding symbolic values as the basis for product differentiation.

The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic values is evident in the following quotation: It is this symbolic or totemistic content to a brand which has given rise to the notion of brands having “personalities”. These “personalities” are the sum of the emotional “added values” which the product carries, over and above its inherent quality and obvious functional purpose (McWilliam and De Chernatony, 1989, p. 30). The marketing of the Volkswagen Beetle represents a prime example of the various aspects of branding. Conceived originally in 1938 as a “people’s ar” to suit the functional needs of the German mass-market, by the 1960s it came to represent a particular type of person and lifestyle. “The Beetle owner was someone who was not into materialism and status symbols. Rather, he or she was willing to make a statement by driving an ugly, funky car, thereby demonstrating independence ??? a willingness to go against the grain, irreverence for convention, being young (or young in spirit) admitting to a sense of humour, and possessing a logical, practical mind” (Aaker, 1992, p. 183). Adding brand values

As stated, brand image derives from the various components of identity, with advertising being central to the process by informing consumers of inherent product benefits and positioning the brand in the mind of the consumer. (Doyle, 1989). While functional product qualities foster intrinsic brand values, advertising serves to transmit the existence of and perhaps embellish beliefs regarding these product qualities and as such affects this dimension of received brand image. At a more emotional/symbolic level a prime function of advertising is to achieve for a brand a particular personality or character in the perception of its market.

This is achieved by imbuing the brand with specific associations or values. A particular feature of all great brands is their association with specific values, both functional and symbolic. At the corporate level IBM is regarded as owning “perception of bigness, computers and integrity” (Wells, 1989, p. 100). In retailing, Marks & Spencer is associated with quality product and value for money. At the level of the product/brand this feature of marketing activity is best observed, with notable brand names such as Marlboro, Coca-Cola, Doc Martens, etc. suggesting quite specific associations.

Research into the Guinness brand showed two levels of values, “soft” values at the core or yolk such as nourishment, goodness, mystery and elemental and “hard” values at the “shell” exterior were masculinity, individuality, maturity and control (Broadbent and Cooper, 1987). The UK car industry represents a good example of brand personality and the presentation of both functional and symbolic brand values. “Car advertising has undergone a transformation. The aim seems to be to imbue both marques and individual brands with a personality and character through a more emotional pitch…The shift has been towards adding brand values.

The advertising is now appealing to the hearts as well as the heads of potential buyers. Cars are becoming more uniform and it is harder to make them stand out both in terms of product and style of advertising” (Spandler, 1987 p. 20). Thus “Volvo has safety. Volkswagen has reliability…All of BMW’s advertising comes back to four main planks: performance, quality, technology and prestige…Citroen is the quintessential French marque and its advertising reflects its quirky, Gallic nature” (Spandler, 1987, p. 21).

A strategic approach is necessary to the identification and achievement of specific brand values. Building a brand’s association with specific values is a long-term process, and must be regarded as an investment in the future, an argument which lends weight to the calls for the capitalization of advertising expenditure. Given that a brand can become associated with a limited number of brand values, it becomes incumbent on organizations to make judicious choices. Specific values may be owned by one competing brand and can only be captured through large-scale investment.

In some instances the brand value position of a competitor may become virtually unassailable. For example Pepsi as a brand is regarded as having achieved associations of entertainment, freshness and youth through its sponsorship, endorsement, youth lifestyle and entertainment marketing approach. According to Jack Trout of Trout and Ries Consultancy “Coke… are trying to play Pepsi’s game, which is right for Pepsi because Pepsi is going after youth… Coke can’t win on that turf ??? Pepsi own it” (Fahey and Lafayette, 1991, p. 44).

Observation of recent advertising and sponsorship programmes on behalf of Coca-Cola suggest that they are eager to contest ownership of this “turf”. While it is quite common to regard advertising as a major factor in leveraging brand equity (Achenbaum, 1989; Lindsay, 1990), it is worth noting that consumers are not passive recipients of image-laden advertising. Joyce (1991) suggests that “people took away from communications, including advertising, what they chose to, and indeed brought existing preconceptions to them” (p. 269).

In reality, brand values are subjective, a point stressed by McDonald (1992) who suggests that “it is consumers and their habit-forming tendencies who create branding; branding is inseparable from the ability to choose. What advertising does is to helpc o n t ro l the acquisition of value, and give it direction. If we did not advertise, our product would still acquire a ‘branding’, but it might not be one that we would like” (p. 114). Advertising ??? its role in marketing imagery At all levels of marketing imagery advertising is identified as one of the principal components of image creation.

The question of how advertising affects consumer behavior represents one of the most complex and intriguing aspects of understanding in marketing. While it is convenient to describe two broad schools of advertising effects and consumer behavior based on the cognitive and behavioral approaches to consumer decision making, it is obvious that such a dichotomous view can hardly be expected to explain the panorama of consumer decision-making situations. The cognitive school views the consumer as a rational decision maker working his way through a series of physical and mental steps toward the act of purchase.

This school is represented by what might be termed the classical models of advertising effects namely the STARCH (Starch, 1925) AIDA (Strong, 1925), DAGMAR (Colley, 1961) and “hierarchy of effects” (Lavidge and Steiner, 1961) models. These models, termed linear sequential models by de Groot (1980) and “hammer and nail, conversion and hierarchy of effects theories” by Lannon and Cooper (1983), could be described as left-hand side of brain models in that consumer behavior is explained in analytical, rational terms.

Their validity in representing the reality of consumer decision making has long been challenged (Joyce, 1967; 1991; Lannon and Cooper, 1983; McDonald, 1992). The second school, variously termed the brand image school, (Joyce, 1967; Ogilvy, 1963), humanistic advertising (Lannon and Cooper, 1983) and right- hand side of brain approach (McDonald, 1992) has at its core a more symbolic, intuitive and emotional view of products and advertising in the scheme of consumer decision making. The function of advertising is to create the symbolism and imagery around the product which will result in a elationship between the brand and the consumer. The consumer is seen as active, knowledgeable, sophisticated and involved in the process of giving meaning to brands. Brand choice is based on emotional and intuitive feelings about brands, their images and meanings for consumers and how these brands satisfy consumer needs and seem to fit into the consumer’s relationship with his/her world. Following from these two schools of consumer decision making, two broad categories of advertising which bear a variety of labels in the marketing literature and have strong resonances of the rational/emotional motives debate can be identified.

As Durgee (1988) suggests somewhat simplisticly, “advertising has two purposes: to excite and to inform” (p. 21). Johar and Sirgy (1991) distinguish between advertising based on value- expressive (image) or symbolic appeals and utilitarian (functional) appeals. The image strategy involves building a “personality” for the product or creating an image of the product user. The utilitarian appeal involves informing consumers of the product benefits that are perceived to be highly functional and important to the consumer.

Based on this classification they suggest that there are two different routes to persuasion: self-congruity and functional congruity. “The self-congruity route to persuasion can be viewed as a psychological process in which the audience focusses on source cues and matches these cues to their self-concept… The greater the match of the source cues, the greater the probability of persuasion, and vice versa. Functional congruity, on the other hand, is defined as a match between the beliefs of product utilitarian attributes (performance-related) and the audience’s referent attributes” (p. 6). They further suggest that “a self- congruity route to persuasion can be viewed as a form of peripheral processing, whereas the functional congruity route is likely to be a form of central processing” (p. 27). Subdivided advertising:The classification along expressive and functional grounds parallels the approach proposed by Rossiter and Percy (1987). Essentially they subdivided advertising into informational and transformational advertising. They suggest that informational advertising is a “reason why” style advertising in which the consumer is given information bout brand benefits and helped to resolve consumption choice conflicts. With transformational or “image” style advertising the consumer perceives that he will be transformed intellectually or socially by using the brand. The classification of advertising along informational/transformational, think/feel lines is widely accepted in the advertising literature (Aaker and Morris, 1982; Crask and Laskey, 1990; Laskey et al. , 1989; Puto and Wells, 1984; Rossiter et al. , 1991; Vaughan, 1980).

While Johar and Sirgy (1991) discuss advertising appeals per se and Rossiter and Percy (1987) discuss the motives behind particular types of advertising, McWilliam and De Chernatony (1989) apply similar type behavioral and cognitive distinctions to actual brands. Functional brands are those sold on the basis of product benefits while representational brands have a personality, an image and values which provide consumers with an opportunity to express their own needs, emotions and personalities. Distinguishing categories of purchasing decisions:

Distinguishing categories of purchasing decisions automatically prompts some discussion on the concept of product involvement. Krugman’s (1965) proposals regarding involvement seemed to echo advertising industry misgivings about rationality as the all-purpose explanation of consumer behavior. Suggesting that products span a continuum from high to low involvement he proposed that many people are not greatly involved with the products they buy and that much of learning from advertising could be described as low involvement.

The FCB model (Vaughan, 1980) brings Krugman’s theory of involvement together with the psychological/neurological theory on right and left side of the brain to offer a four-quadrant grid representing the different consumer responses to different purchase situations. This model represents a recognition of the emotional/feel factor in advertising rather than the purely rational approach articulated by the classical models. Overlapping rather than dichotomous explanations Assertions by the advocates of the various schools of thought with regard to advertising effects tend to suggest a dichotomous view of the consumer’s orld in his/her relationship with brands. In reality products and the buying situations involved are not likely to represent for the consumer either a purely rational or purely emotional/symbolic choice situation, but are likely to embody aspects of both simultaneously (Wicks, 1989). This view is supported by Rossiteret al. (1991), who, in offering an improvement on the FCB Advertising planning grid, suggest that “‘think’ and ‘feel’ are cute summary labels that do not in any way do justice to the complexity of consumer purchase motivations” (p. 15).

While it might be convenient to represent all consumer purchasing on a commodity/brand continuum and related advertising on an informational/ transformational spectrum, the reality is that consumer decision making involves both left- and right-hand sides of brain activity simultaneously with variation in emphasis being related to characteristics of the decision and the decision maker. Advertising strategy reflects this complexity with “think” and “feel” factors embodied in a single advertisement or opposing “think” and “feel” advertising strategies being simultaneously pursued by protagonists in the same product-category.

Advertising can be used to articulate intrinsic values and imbue added values. This notion is implicit in Figure 2. The implication in Figure 2 is that when considering the purchase of a brand the consumer is forming his/her relationship with the brand at two levels simultaneously. On the one hand the intrinsic/functional attributes of a brand are being evaluated against consumer requirements in a practical/rational manner which is reliant on left-hand side brain activity.

On the other hand the consumer is evaluating the meanings/values implicit in a brand in an emotional/intuitive manner which relies on right-hand side brain activity. Summary Increasingly, emphasis is being placed on the addition of brand values as the basis for discrimination at all levels of consumer/business interaction. The brand represents for the consumer a specific articulation of product performance attributes and a suggested battery of symbolic values and meanings inherent in the received personality. Advertising represents a most potent source of brand identity.

It has two major functions, namely to present and thereby position the brand attributes against consumer expectations and to imbue the brand with values symbolically attractive to the target market. The first function is largely informational in character in that performance specifications of the brand are presented. The second function is to imbue the brand with human-like rather than mechanistic performance-oriented values. It seeks to add symbolic values thereby placing the brand in the relevant lifestyle context. This latter [pic] unction is increasingly important as product offerings tend towards homogeneity with technical advance providing diminished periods of competitive advantage. This addition of emotional brand values is based on a recognition of brands as social signals whereby brands do not just perform functionally, but make social statements on behalf of their consumers. In effect the development of brand image is reliant on both the informational and the transformational abilities of advertising with the brand image formed by the consumer being the composite of both functional and emotional components absorbed simultaneously.

References and further reading Aaker, D. A. (1992), Managing Brand Equity: Capitalising on the Value of a Brand Name, The Free Press, New York, NY. Aaker, D. and Morris, D. (1982), “Characteristics of TV commercials perceived as informative”, Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 22-34. Achenbaum, A. (1989), “How to breathe new life into brands”, Advertising Age, Vol. 60 No. 18, pp. 24-70. Barthes, R. (1964), Elements of Semiology, Cape, London. Barthes, R. (1983), The Fashion System, (translated by Ward, M. and Howard, R. , Hill and Wang, New York, NY. Belk, R. W. (1983), “Explanations for congruence between patron stereotypes and patron self- concepts”, Proceedings of the American Psychological Association Conference, American Psychological Association, Los Angeles, CA. Bernstein, D. (1985), Company Image and Reality, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, in association with the Advertising Association, Eastbourne. Broadbent, K. and Cooper, P. (1987), “Research is good for you”, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 3-9. Brooks, J. M. and Davies, G. J. 1989), Positioning Strategy in Retailing, Chapman Publishing, London. Colley, R. (1961), Defining Goals for Measured Advertising Results, Association of National Advertisers, London. Cooper, P. (1989), “Comparison between the UK and US: the qualitative dimension”,Journal of the Marketing Research Society, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 509-20. Crask, M. R. and Laskey, H. A. (1990), “A positioning-based decision model for selecting advertising messages”, Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 32-8. de Groot, G. (1980), The Persuaders Exposed, Associated Business Press, London, Doyle, P. 1989), “Building successful brands: the strategic options”, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 77-95. Durgee, J. F. (1988), “Understanding brand personality”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 21-5. Egan, C. , Shipley, D. and Howard, P. (1992), “The importance of brand names in industrial markets”, in Baker, M. J. (Ed. ), Perspectives on Marketing Management, Vol. 2, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, pp. 307-24. Evans, L. (1973), The Communications Gap, Charles Knight & Co. , London. Fahey, A. and Lafayette, J. 1991), “Coke goes Hollywood”, Advertising Age, September 9, pp. 1, 44. Gardner, B. B. and Levy, S. J. (1955), “The product and the brand”, Harvard Business Review Vol. 33, March/April, pp. 33-9. Gray, E. R. and Smeltzer, L. R. (1985), “Corporate image, an integral part of strategy”, Sloan Management Review, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 73-8. Grier, P. (1991), “The corporation as brand”, Chief Executive, Vol. 66, April, pp. 38-41. Gunther, E. E. (1959), “Evaluating corporate image measurement”, Proceedings of the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) Conference, Advertising Research Foundation, New York, NY, pp. 1-6. Holbrook, M. B. and Grayson, M. W. (1986), “The semiology of cinematic consumption: symbolic consumer behavior in out of Africa”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 13, December, pp. 374-81. Ind, N. (1990), The Corporate Image, Kogan Page, London [pic][pic] 26 JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT VOL. 4 NO. 4 1995 recognized by Veblen (1899) in his Theory of the Leisure Class and termed conspicuous consumption. Noth (1988) quotes Karl Marx and his metaphor of “the language of commodities” in which “the linen conveys its thoughts” ( p. 75) while Barthes (1964) discussed a semiotic threshold with the semiotic existing above the “utilitarian or functional aspects” of objects. Given the symbolic usage of brands it is no surprise that semiotics, as the study of signs in society, is increasingly being used in understanding consumer behavior. Initially used in facilitating understanding of the consumption behavior surrounding cultural products such as film and other works of art (Holbrook and Grayson, 1986) and fashion (Barthes, 1983), its widespread usage to interpret symbolic consumption in all aspects of consumer behavior is anticipated (Mick, 1986).

Within the marketing tradition with its reliance on economic theory and related emphasis on rationality in buying behavior, the recognition of products having symbolic meaning for consumers coincided with marketing’s courtship with the behavioral sciences in the 1950s and 1960s. Gardner and Levy (1955) suggested there was a need for a “greater awareness of the social and psychological nature of products” (p. 34), while Levy (1959) captured the essence of symbolism when he suggested that “people buy things not only for what they can do, but also for what they mean” (p. 18). The concept of brands as social signals is now well accepted with congruity between brand and user self-image regarded as a key motivational factor in consumer choice (Belk, 1983; Sirgy, 1982). Lannon and Cooper (1983) suggest that: Brands are used as a sort of language. Brands tell you a great deal about who you are, where you are in life, what you are and where you are going. Brand choices are as much a part of ourselves as the way we speak, the words we use, our dialect, dress, gestures and language.

Brands are part of ourselves and we are part of our brands (p. 205). Brand name Brand Consumer needs, values and lifestyles Product Symbolism Source: Broadbent and Cooper (1987) Figure 1. The elements of branding Brands as social signals [pic][pic][pic] JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT VOL. 4 NO. 4 1995 27 A recurring, though rarely explicitly stated theme in the literature on branding is that the physical product satisfies the functional benefits sought by consumers while the “brand” provides the requisite symbolism.

In effect, the consumer is being sold at two levels of values, intrinsic values centering on perceived product quality and extrinsic values focussing on the symbolic content of the brand. Intrinsic values derive from consumer beliefs about the product’s capacity to satisfy his/her functional desires while extrinsic or added values largely derive from the brand imagery created by advertising. As stated, where particular products/brands are seen as relatively homogeneous, e. g. colas, lagers, etc. , heavy emphasis is placed on adding symbolic values as the basis for product differentiation.

The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic values is evident in the following quotation: It is this symbolic or totemistic content to a brand which has given rise to the notion of brands having “personalities”. These “personalities” are the sum of the emotional “added values” which the product carries, over and above its inherent quality and obvious functional purpose (McWilliam and De Chernatony, 1989, p. 30). The marketing of the Volkswagen Beetle represents a prime example of the various aspects of branding.

Conceived originally in 1938 as a “people’s car” to suit the functional needs of the German mass-market, by the 1960s it came to represent a particular type of person and lifestyle. “The Beetle owner was someone who was not into materialism and status symbols. Rather, he or she was willing to make a statement by driving an ugly, funky car, thereby demonstrating independence ??? a willingness to go against the grain, irreverence for convention, being young (or young in spirit) admitting to a sense of humour, and possessing a logical, practical mind” (Aaker, 1992, p. 83). Adding brand values As stated, brand image derives from the various components of identity, with advertising being central to the process by informing consumers of inherent product benefits and positioning the brand in the mind of the consumer. (Doyle, 1989). While functional product qualities foster intrinsic brand values, advertising serves to transmit the existence of and perhaps embellish beliefs regarding these product qualities and as such affects this dimension of received brand image.

At a more emotional/symbolic level a prime function of advertising is to achieve for a brand a particular personality or character in the perception of its market. This is achieved by imbuing the brand with specific associations or values. A particular feature of all great brands is their association with specific values, both functional and symbolic. At the corporate level IBM is regarded as owning “perception of bigness, computers and integrity” (Wells, 1989, p. 100). In retailing, Marks & Spencer is associated with quality product and value for money.

At the level of the product/brand this feature of marketing activity is best observed, with notable brand names such as Marlboro, Coca-Cola, Doc Martens, etc. suggesting quite specific associations. Research into the Guinness brand showed two levels of values, “soft” values at the core or yolk such as nourishment, goodness, mystery and elemental and “hard” values at the “shell” exterior were masculinity, individuality, maturity and control (Broadbent and Cooper, 1987). The marketing of a ” people’s car ” Emotional/ symbolic evel [pic][pic][pic] 28 JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT VOL. 4 NO. 4 1995 The UK car industry represents a good example of brand personality and the presentation of both functional and symbolic brand values. “Car advertising has undergone a transformation. The aim seems to be to imbue both marques and individual brands with a personality and character through a more emotional pitch…The shift has been towards adding brand values. The advertising is now appealing to the hearts as well as the heads of potential buyers.

Cars are becoming more uniform and it is harder to make them stand out both in terms of product and style of advertising” (Spandler, 1987 p. 20). Thus “Volvo has safety. Volkswagen has reliability…All of BMW’s advertising comes back to four main planks: performance, quality, technology and prestige…Citroen is the quintessential French marque and its advertising reflects its quirky, Gallic nature” (Spandler, 1987, p. 21). A strategic approach is necessary to the identification and achievement of specific brand values.

Building a brand’s association with specific values is a long-term process, and must be regarded as an investment in the future, an argument which lends weight to the calls for the capitalization of advertising expenditure. Given that a brand can become associated with a limited number of brand values, it becomes incumbent on organizations to make judicious choices. Specific values may be owned by one competing brand and can only be captured through large-scale investment. In some instances the brand value position of a competitor may become virtually unassailable.

For example Pepsi as a brand is regarded as having achieved associations of entertainment, freshness and youth through its sponsorship, endorsement, youth lifestyle and entertainment marketing approach. According to Jack Trout of Trout and Ries Consultancy “Coke… are trying to play Pepsi’s game, which is right for Pepsi because Pepsi is going after youth… Coke can’t win on that turf ??? Pepsi own it” (Fahey and Lafayette, 1991, p. 44). Observation of recent advertising and sponsorship programmes on behalf of Coca-Cola suggest that they are eager to contest ownership of this “turf”.

While it is quite common to regard advertising as a major factor in leveraging brand equity (Achenbaum, 1989; Lindsay, 1990), it is worth noting that consumers are not passive recipients of image-laden advertising. Joyce (1991) suggests that “people took away from communications, including advertising, what they chose to, and indeed brought existing preconceptions to them” (p. 269). In reality, brand values are subjective, a point stressed by McDonald (1992) who suggests that “it is consumers and their habit-forming tendencies who create branding; branding is inseparable from the ability to choose.

What advertising does is to helpc o n t ro l the acquisition of value, and give it direction. If we did not advertise, our product would still acquire a ‘branding’, but it might not be one that we would like” (p. 114). Advertising ??? its role in marketing imagery At all levels of marketing imagery advertising is identified as one of the principal components of image creation. The question of how advertising affects consumer behavior represents one of the most complex and intriguing aspects of understanding in marketing.

While it is convenient to describe two broad schools of advertising effects and consumer behavior based on the cognitive and behavioral approaches to consumer decision Car industry Advertising as a major factor [pic][pic][pic] JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT VOL. 4 NO. 4 1995 29 making, it is obvious that such a dichotomous view can hardly be expected to explain the panorama of consumer decision-making situations. The cognitive school views the consumer as a rational decision maker working his way through a series of physical and mental steps toward the act of purchase.

This school is represented by what might be termed the classical models of advertising effects namely the STARCH (Starch, 1925) AIDA (Strong, 1925), DAGMAR (Colley, 1961) and “hierarchy of effects” (Lavidge and Steiner, 1961) models. These models, termed linear sequential models by de Groot (1980) and “hammer and nail, conversion and hierarchy of effects theories” by Lannon and Cooper (1983), could be described as left-hand side of brain models in that consumer behavior is explained in analytical, rational terms.

Their validity in representing the reality of consumer decision making has long been challenged (Joyce, 1967; 1991; Lannon and Cooper, 1983; McDonald, 1992). The second school, variously termed the brand image school, (Joyce, 1967; Ogilvy, 1963), humanistic advertising (Lannon and Cooper, 1983) and right- hand side of brain approach (McDonald, 1992) has at its core a more symbolic, intuitive and emotional view of products and advertising in the scheme of consumer decision making.

The function of advertising is to create the symbolism and imagery around the product which will result in a relationship between the brand and the consumer. The consumer is seen as active, knowledgeable, sophisticated and involved in the process of giving meaning to brands. Brand choice is based on emotional and intuitive feelings about brands, their images and meanings for consumers and how these brands satisfy consumer needs and seem to fit into the consumer’s relationship with his/her world.

Following from these two schools of consumer decision making, two broad categories of advertising which bear a variety of labels in the marketing literature and have strong resonances of the rational/emotional motives debate can be identified. As Durgee (1988) suggests somewhat simplisticly, “advertising has two purposes: to excite and to inform” (p. 21). Johar and Sirgy (1991) distinguish between advertising based on value- expressive (image) or symbolic appeals and utilitarian (functional) appeals.

The image strategy involves building a “personality” for the product or creating an image of the product user. The utilitarian appeal involves informing consumers of the product benefits that are perceived to be highly functional and important to the consumer. Based on this classification they suggest that there are two different routes to persuasion: self-congruity and functional congruity. “The self-congruity route to persuasion can be viewed as a psychological process in which the audience focusses on source cues and matches these cues to their self-concept…

The greater the match of the source cues, the greater the probability of persuasion, and vice versa. Functional congruity, on the other hand, is defined as a match between the beliefs of product utilitarian attributes (performance-related) and the audience’s referent attributes” (p. 26). They further suggest that “a self- congruity route to persuasion can be viewed as a form of peripheral processing, whereas the functional congruity route is likely to be a form of central processing” (p. 27). Brand image school Building a “personality” for the product [pic]

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