Brand association spells out the strength of a brand in association with the general product category in the mind of the consumer. Brand association is also referred to as the share of mind. A consumer will often ask for a product by the specific brand name rather than the general name-for example, a person wanting facial tissues may ask for Kleenex, and diapers for Pampers. When this happens, the consumer is making a brand association.
Brand Associations are images and symbols associated with a brand. Consumers associate better with product image, symbol, color and sound than the product itself. Associations are not “reasons-to-buy” but provide acquaintance and differentiation, which cannot be replicated. It is relating perceived qualities of a brand to a known entity. For instance - Waldorf Hotel is associated with luxury and comfort; Mercedes Benz is associated with sophistication, fun driving, and superior engineering. Some popular brand associations are with the owners of brand, such as - Bill Gates and Microsoft, and Steve Jobs (Late) and Apple products; also, many companies have enjoy brand association with famous celebrities in sports, entertainment etc.
A brand should be associated with something positive so that the customers relate your brand to being positive as its attributes come to mind when the brand is talked about. It is related with the implicit and explicit meanings, which a consumer relates/associates with a specific brand name. While choosing a brand name, it should reinforce an important attribute that forms it’s product positioning.
The above insight into brand association makes ‘branding’ an important part of product development and management. Product managers and development personnel must give consideration to the brand name, logo, sound and color, to increase the level of association the brand attracts.
Brand associations are formed on the following basis:
Customers contact with the organization and it’s employees
Word of mouth publicity
Price at which the brand is sold
Celebrity/big entity association
Quality of the product
Products and schemes offered by competitors
Product class/category to which the brand belongs
POP ( Point of purchase) displays; etc
Positive brand associations are developed when the product is durable, marketable and desirable. The customers must be persuaded that the brand possesses the features and attributes satisfying their needs; this leads to a positive impression about the product.
A positive brand association creates an emotional appeal to the end user, which helps the company to gain goodwill, and helps it maintain its market share, and may even frustrate the sales of new entrants.
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