Branding

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Introduction

Branding is one of the most essential strategies in any organization. Branding plays a significant role in creation and development of company identity, a crucial aspect that determines success or failure of the business in competitive market environment. A brand can be defined as a name, symbol, design, sign or a collective combination as a means to identify a product or service with a particular seller. The use of a brand intends to differentiate products and services which satisfy customers’ needs and provide a seller with a specific identity in the market. There are numerous brands in the market today. Some brands have lasted for decades while others have failed within very short periods after establishing. The following paper discusses two brands, the successful brand and the one which failed to gain popularity among customers, highlighting what led to success and failure of the brands and what lessons we can learn from both cases in question.

Nike: A successful Brand

After successfully redefining itself as fitness and athletic company, rather than just a shoe company, Nike has grown into the largest dealer in athletic footwear and apparel globally. The Nick Swoosh is among the most if not leading recognized symbols worldwide, not only in the world of sport and fitness but also in the general product market. The Swoosh is a mark of great branding strategies, hence, making Nike one of the most highly valuable and successful brands in the world today. If any company can attest crucial importance of creating, maintaining and protecting the brand, then Nike is a perfect example to start with.

One of the keen formulas Nike has used to achieve successful outcomes is by building brand equity. Nike understands importance of branding in the highly competitive and aggressive sports industry, thus, great efforts have been used over the years to build positive and valuable brand equity. Brand equity is defined as the outcomes or marketing effects that a particular product accrues due to its brand name. Nike managed to build brand equality through three key steps that include product quality, endorsement and culture.

Nike clearly understands the essence of product quality and this can be seen through its commitment over the years to create high and good quality products. In accordance to the company mission, Nike is entirely engaged in producing high-end products that meet the needs of its customers especially athletes who present the largest customer base of the company. Each year, Nike aims to improve the quality of its products by incorporating new technologies and skills in order to produce more appealing and satisfying products. By maintaining product quality, Nike has significantly gained competitive advantage as a trend setter in the sports and fitness sector. Additionally, Nike has gained popularity and is highly associated with good quality products that appease many consumers in the market.

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Use of endorsements is another crucial method that Nike uses to build its brand equity. Nike uses the techniques of brand association and celebrity endorsers as a means of advertising its products in the market. It also participates in sponsorship programs and sports events. The use of endorsements requires a huge amount of financial investments in order to attract the most elite celebrities. Nike spends millions of dollars in celebrity endorsements and brand association projects. The company has, hence, been able to attract and retain iconic athletes such as Michael Jordan. Through endorsements and associations, Nike has been able to attract a huge following of new customers, thus, greatly boosting the brand equity of the company.

The last key step taken by Nike in building its brand equity is maintaining a culture that relates to the consumers. Over the years, Nike has created a culture that incorporates high performance, power, fitness, athleticism and heroism. It is a company culture that relates with consumers and helps to understand their needs. Moreover, Nike has openly shown tremendous involvement in the pop culture, thus, maintaining constant brand visibility. The company has also been proactive in addressing social issues such as cancer and HIV/Aids awareness. Through such participations, Nike stands out as a company that understands the role of corporate social responsibility. These by all means, increase credibility of Nike boosting its brand equity.

Success of Nike can be largely attributed to its ability to develop a unique brand and maintain the brand for many decades. Success of the Nike brand is as a result of tenacious advertising, marketing and promoting strategies. The company spends millions of dollars on advertising and marketing its brands, as a results it gains brand visibility which is a key driver for future growth. In addition, the brand image of Nike promotes positive aspects of fitness and athleticism, gaining credibility among sports people and general consumers who not only relate with the company for its products but for what it also represents.

Nike is a good example of a company that has understood the essence of branding. There are several valuable lessons that other brands can learn from Nike. First, it is the power of brand association and effective celebrity endorsement. By associating itself with elite personality and sports events, Nike is able to share the emotional journey of sporting and is perceived a winner in relation to high performance of individuals and teams. Another valuable lesson to learn from Nike relates to importance of maintaining a brand from one generation to another. Nike is among few brands that have transitioned from the older generation to the modern day younger generation. It prides itself with the use of the Nike Swoosh as a mark of quality. Moreover, Nike demonstrates importance of thinking outside the box and incorporates new technology in redefining its products so as to keep up with the changing markets.

Windows Vista: A Failed Brand

When Microsoft launched Windows Vista in 2007, the expectations of the company and the general public were high. Windows Vista was perceived to become another successful brand like its predecessor brand Windows XP. A huge amount of money was spent on branding Windows Vista and its initial marketing strategies. However, shortly after its launch, the Vista software was accompanied by numerous compatibility and performance challenges. Even the most loyal Microsoft customers admitted that they could not use the software and the brand failed, becoming one of the worst failures for Microsoft.

Vista failed as a brand due to the use of generic and old fashioned branding techniques. Microsoft failed to upgrade Window Vista as a brand that can be used by generations to come. The Windows Vista design was not appealing to consumers both young and old. Poor performance of Vista as operating systems also led consumers to believe that the software had numerous problems than it actually had. Nevertheless, Microsoft did little to promote the brand even after complains from the users.

Another reason that largely led to the failure of the Vista brand is poor communication between the company and its consumers. Many users of Vista had consistently shown dissatisfaction with the operating system. However, the feedback was ignored and consumers gradually pulled out on the use of Vista. Additionally, Vista was poorly tested before its launch. Therefore, many unclear and confusing user challenges were not detected on time.

There are several things that could have been done differently in order to save Windows Vista from failure. The first important step that Microsoft should have done is to test the product before launching. This would help in identification of any challenges and make suitable adjustments before officially launching the software, thus, gaining brand quality. Competition from other brands such as Apple greatly tarnished the brand of Vista, portraying it as boring and slow software. In order to curb such negative implication, brand positioning in the market would be achieved through the use of endorsements and brand association with personalities and events deemed fun and entertaining by the public.

Conclusion

Branding is one of the oldest product strategies that have been used by companies for the purpose of differentiating sellers of similar products. Importance of branding entails giving a company its identity and customer loyalty, which are important elements in determining success or failure of a company. Success of any given brand is dependent on creation of a strong brand, brand management and brand positioning in the market. Nike is among the world’s most successful brands. Over the years, Nike has managed to maintain and protect its brand through creation of brand equity which is a long term valuable asset to the company. Product quality and the use of endorsements are some of the steps taken by Nike in building its valuable brand equity. On the other hand, failure of a brand is subjected to various factors. Among the factors that led to failure of Windows Vista is inability of Microsoft to provide a quality product to its consumers. Several other factors such as poor brand positioning adversely affected the brand leading to a breakdown.

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