Product branding is a well-known phenomenon in marketing. A brand is a promise to the customer that goes beyond the generic product, the technical and physical attributes. When selling a branded product the company promises that the consumer will achieve special qualities by using the product, different qualities than when using a similar non branded or different branded product. A typical message from the company is “when using this product you will be more attracted, become better looking and signal a higher social class“. By using the branded product the consumer can communicate his/her lifestyle or wanted lifestyle.
On the other side corporate branding refers to the practice of using a company’s name as a product brand name. It is an attempt to leverage corporate brand equity to create product brand recognition. It is a type of family branding or umbrella brand.
Martin Roll, author of Asian Brand Strategy : How Asia Builds Strong Brands has an interesting view on corporate branding:
Corporate branding employs the same methodology and toolbox used in product branding, but it also elevates the approach a step further into the board room, where additional issues around stakeholder relations (shareholders, media, competitors, governments and many others) can help the corporation benefit from a strong and well-managed corporate branding strategy. Not surprisingly, a strong and comprehensive corporate branding strategy requires a high level of personal attention and commitment from the CEO and the senior management to become fully effective and meet the objectives.
Among the advantages of a corporate branding strategy we can count:
- the corporate brand is the face of the business strategy, portraying what the corporation aims at doing and what it wants to be known for in the market place, is the overall umbrella for the corporations’ activities and encapsulates its vision, values, personality, positioning and image among many other dimensions.
- corporate branding strategy creates simplicity; it stands on top of the brand portfolio as the ultimate identifier of the corporation.
- a coporate branding strategy can drive some cost efficiencies that can often be achieved as opposed to a large multi-brand architecture where the corporate brand plays a smaller or insignificant role.
On the other side among main disadvantages of this strategy is that products may not be treated individually, which reduces the focus on the products’ unique characteristics or that the corporate name can become synonymous with a product category
Three different strategies can be approached for corporate branding:
Branded identity is when a company uses different brands for their products that function independent from each other and the company’s brand. The strength of this strategy is the flexibility. The company can build different brands in different marked segments and for different products. If a brand is involved in a scandal it will only damage that brand, and will not hurt the other brands of the company.
Endorsed brand identity is when an organisation has a group of products or companies that it endorses with a group name and a common identity. The strength of this approach lies in the relationship of the products/companies, they can benefit from the goodwill given to others with the same common identity.
Monolithic brand identity is when a company uses only one name and one visual style for all it products. The strength is the simplicity and the potential for growth. The weakness is that one happening; one scandal can cause severe damage even to big strong brands.