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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Brands as Symbols of Values, Attitudes and Lifestyles (VAL’s)

To create positive brand equity, marketers must focus on making sure that the consumers see the difference between their brands and the others. “A brand is said to have positive customer-based brand equity when customers react more favourably to a product and the way it is marketed when the brand is identified as compared to when it is not”[1]
In marketing the consumers are divided into three major categories: Consumers motivated by ideals. The consumers in this category require knowledge about the product before they buy the product. For them quality, integrity and tradition are very important. Consumers motivated by achievement. Consumers in this category struggle for a clear social position. They make their choices on the social desires of people in the group to which they belong or aspire to belong. And finally, Consumers motivated by self-expression. The consumers in this category make rational decisions while making their purchase-decision. Trademark can appeal consumers having different emotional and psychological needs. Brands, as symbols, signs, and names can influence consumers psychological responses, namely cognitive and affective responses. “A successful brand appeals to consumers by aligning their perceptions with the products physical presentation, pricing, promotion etc. Starbucks, the most successful global café appeals consumers on the basis of its emotional warmth, communal ambiance, and memorable coffee-drinking experience”[2].
Modern brands can also deliver emotional and self-expressive benefits while simultaneously providing functional benefits. For those who buy and/or use branded goods or services, positive emotional and self-expressive experiences can be the basis for a strong attachment to the brand. Further, trade mark’s capacity to make a statement about social status may depend as much on the presentation and price of the marked products as on a reputation concerning their quality and functional characteristics. Here, the role of the trade mark expands beyond signifying information about the marked products to consumers to include signalling information about consumers of the marked products to third parties. And the reassurance that the trade mark provides to consumers includes the fact that it can convey this message to third parties. These associations may just reinforce the trade mark’s reputation concerning characteristics on which consumers need reassurance, but they can also take the form of attractive analogies or metaphors for the products or their other characteristics that appeal to certain consumers.[3] They may go further and appeal to consumers’ psychological needs for social status, self-expression and a sense of community.[4] Consumers have, for example, come to regard certain brands and the trade marks signifying these brands as symbolising a certain social status or standing. Purchasing marked products then becomes a way in which consumers can make a statement about their own status or standing.[5] 
A unique brand name and cohesive brand identity are probably the most powerful pieces of information for consumers. Brands may give us a positive clue as to a proprietor but modern trademarks are equally or more likely to convey, among a huge amount of other messages relating personality, purpose, performance, preparation, price and position.

[1] Keller (2003)
[2] David Allen Bernstein, A Case For Mediating Trademark Dispute In The Age of Expanding Brands, accessed on 25/7/2011
[3] Jerre B. Swann, An Interdisciplinary Approach to Brand Strength,, accessed on 25/7/2011
[4] Swann, Aaker and Reback, 2001,, accessed on 25/7/2011
[5] Becker and Murphy with Glaeser, 2001.

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