Re: Branding & marketing

From: Ian Fenwick <>
Date: Wed 24 Jan 2001 18:25:40 -0500

I have been following parts of the great branding
debate with interest...and confusion.

I think it would help to separate 'brand' into Physical
Brand and Brand Meanings. The Physical Brand is simply
the name, logo, colours (Prozac has tried to argue that
the colours of the capsule are part of its brand),
sound (the MGM lion's roar), pack shape, uniforms of
service providers: in fact whatever distinguishes one
product/service from another in the mind of the
customer. Brand Meanings are what the customer comes to
infer from that Physical Brand.

Of course some Physical Brands have no Brand Meanings:
they distinguish the product/service from another one,
but mean nothing else to the customer. If I buy marker
pens; they have Physical Brands, I can read them, I can
see the difference in pen shape: But I don't care, they
mean nothing to me and do not affect my choice. Of
course other consumers may be different!

Some Physical Brands develop very strong Brand Meanings
which can then exist and be used by the marketer WITH
or WITHOUT the original product. This is where brand
becomes valuable. If I see the Physical Brand of
Mercedes-Benz on a product, I immediately know
something about that product. These additional Brand
Meanings can be positive (I pay more for a
Mercedes-Benz bike that for a bike called Fred); or
they could be negative (I know already that I do not
want a Cadillac bike, or at least if I buy it, it had
better be much cheaper than the Mercedes bike), or they
could be irrelevant (I would not pay more for a
Mercedes beer).

Of course these Brand Meanings should not come about by
chance (although they sometimes do); they should be
crafted by the customer's experience with the
product/service and all aspects of its marketing. Of
course if the Physical Brand is not distinctive and not
remembered (or at least recognized), it cannot acquire
associated meanings.

Consultant and Visiting Professor of
Marketing, Sasin, Chulalongkorn
University, Bangkok, Thailand

Received on Wed Jan 24 2001 - 17:25:40 CST


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