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Difference between Branding and Brand Equity Essay

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending”. (Bard qtd. in. ThinkExist. com) This quote shows one fact that the process of ‘branding’ is endless. Because, simply, when ‘brand equity’ is known or measured, the brand could be protected and managed properly. This essay aims at giving an overview of the ‘branding’ and ‘brand equity’ terms or concepts to show the difference between both of them.

And due to the fact that “both terms are usually defined around the concept of adding value to a product (or service)” (Binnie 17), it could be hard for some people to differentiate between both of them. That’s why the best approach to realize the difference between ‘branding’ and ‘brand equity’ is to dig and search in the literature to define both terms to know what is meant by each one of them. However, before separating each term from the other -to know the difference between both of them-, let’s move to the real world to have an idea about a simple fact concerning a certain brand (Coca-Cola in this case).

This interesting example –mentioned by Blackett- deserves to be mentioned here to realize how important a brand could be for a company. “By mid-2002, Coca-Cola Company’s stock market value reached $136 billion, while the business net asset value (the book value) was only $10. 5 billion”. (5) The interesting fact here is when we add this information to the fact that: “The value of Coca-Cola brand for the same period (mid-2002) was estimated by $70 billion (over half of the $136 intangible value mentioned above! . ” (Blackett 5) Then, after realizing the importance of ‘branding’ to the company in the marketplace -in the previous example-, it’s time to know what is meant by both terms, ‘branding’ and ‘brand equity’. First of all, a ‘brand’ is defined by the Dictionary of Business and Management as “a name, sign or symbol used to identify items or services of the seller(s) and to differentiate them from goods of competitors. ” (qtd. in. BuildingBrands Ltd. ) However, a ‘brand’ is more than a name, a sign or a symbol.

In another word, this definition is not sufficient to describe the term ‘brand’. Grimaldi gave a better definition for the term ‘brand’ as “a combination of attributes, communicated through a name, or a symbol, that influences a thought-process in the mind of an audience and creates value. ” And this is what Blackett assured when he mentioned that “the visual distinctiveness of a brand may be a combination of any of the following: name, letters, numbers, a symbol, a signature, a shape, a slogan, a color, a particular typeface. (3)

Also, Davis (2) defined the ‘brand’ term as “all the promises and perceptions that an organization ‘wants’ its customers to feel about its product(s) and service offerings. ” (2) Now, moving to the ‘branding’ concept or term, according to Davis (1), ‘branding’ is a complex ‘process’, but its goal is simple: it is the creation and development of a specific identity for a company, product, commodity, group, or person. ” (3) Grimaldi mentioned an interesting definition for ‘branding’: The blend of art and science that ‘manages associations’ between a brand and memories in the mind of the brand’s audience. ” And this blend “involves focusing resources on selected tangible and intangible attributes to differentiate the brand in an attractive, meaningful and compelling way for the targeted audience. ” Now, after understanding what is meant by both ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ terms, it’s time to know what is meant by ‘brand equity’ term or concept.

The ‘brand equity’ concept “emerged in the early 1990s”, (Tuominen 96) and introduced in marketing literature in the 1980s” (Rajh 1) and before mentioning definitions of this term, it is necessary to realize that “brand equity is the key to understanding the net impact of marketing” (Reynolds and Philips qtd. in. Binnie 16) According to Hoeffler and Keller, “most definitions of brand equity rely on ‘brand knowledge’ structures in the minds of consumers –individuals or organizations-” (421 qtd. in. Binnie 17). And Pullig gave a simple definition to the term ‘brand equity’ as “consumer brand knowledge”.

Keller also defined the ‘brand equity’ term as “the ‘differential consumer response’ from ‘knowing’ the brand”. (qtd. in. Binnie 17) According to Keller and Kevin, ‘brand equity’ is “the value of the brand in the marketplace” (qtd. in. Pullig). McDonald added another dimension when she defined it as “the stored value built up in a brand which can be used to gain ‘market advantage’” (2). So, after studying these definitions, it is obvious -as Tuominen mentioned- that “there are three key ingredients in the ‘brand equity’ definition and they are: (1) brand knowledge, (2) differential effect, and (3) consumer response to marketing. ” (75)

Finally, according to these definitions, it is obvious that (1) ‘branding’ is the process of creating, developing, protecting, and managing the special identity of the product, or the ‘brand’ (to differentiate it in the marketplace) and it is not only marketing effort, it includes all the companies efforts to build this differentiation; (2) the ‘brand’ is the end result of that process or the combination of all the tools used to create this special identity of the product; and (3) the ‘brand equity’ is the ‘feedback’ of the ‘branding’ process or the key to measure, assess, or weigh the end result ‘brand’ –as we saw previously in the Coca-Cola example- and compare it with what is desired or planned in the ‘branding’ process. In another word, ‘brand equity’ will show whether the ‘branding’ process and other marketing efforts (or even public relations) are on the right track or not.


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