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The modern discipline of brand management is considered to have been started by a famous memo at Procter & Gamble[4] by Neil H. McElroy.[5]

Interbrand's 2012 top-10 global brands are Coca-Cola, Apple, IBM, Google, Microsoft, GE, McDonald's, Intel, Samsung, and Toyota.[6] The split between commodities/food services and technology is not a matter of chance: both industrial sectors rely heavily on sales to the individual consumer who must be able to rely on cleanliness/quality or reliability/value, respectively. For this reason, industries such as agricultural (which sells to other companies in the food sector), student loans (which have a relationship with universities/schools rather than the individual loan-taker), and electricity (which is generally a controlled monopoly) have less prominent and less recognized branding. Brand value, moreover, is not simply a fuzzy feeling of "consumer appeal," but an actual quantitative value of good will under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Companies will rigorously defend their brand name, including prosecution of trademark infringement. Occasionally trademarks may differ across countries.

Among the most highly visible and recognizable brands is the red Coca-Cola can. Despite numerous blind tests indicating that Coke's flavor is not preferred, Coca-Cola continues to enjoy a dominant share of the cola market. Coca-Cola's history is so replete with uncertainty that a folklore has sprung up around the brand, including the (refuted) myth that Coca-Cola invented the red-dressed Santa-Claus[7] which is used to gain market entry in less capitalistic regions in the world such as the former Soviet Union and China, and such brand-management stories as "Coca-Cola's first entry into the Chinese market resulted in their brand being translated as 'bite the wax tadpole').[8] Brand management science is replete with such stories, including the Chevrolet 'Nova' or "it doesn't go" in Spanish, and proper cultural translation is useful to countries entering new markets.

Modern brand management also intersects with legal issues such as 'genericization of trademark.' The 'Xerox' Company continues to fight heavily in media whenever a reporter or other writer uses 'xerox' as simply a synonym for 'photocopy.'[9] Should usage of 'xerox' be accepted as the standard English term for 'photocopy,' then Xerox's competitors could successfully argue in court that they are permitted to create 'xerox' machines as well. Yet, in a sense, reaching this stage of market domination is itself a triumph of brand management, in that becoming so dominant typically involves strong profit. Brand orientation

Brand orientation refers to "the degree to which the organization values brands and its practices are oriented towards building brand capabilities” (Bridson & Evans, 2004). It is a deliberate approach to working with brands, both internally and externally. The most important driving force behind this increased interest in strong brands is the accelerating pace of globalization. This has resulted in an ever-tougher competitive situation on many markets. A product’s superiority is in itself no longer sufficient to guarantee its success. The fast pace of technological development and the increased speed with which imitations turn up on the market have dramatically shortened product lifecycles. The consequence is that product-related competitive advantages soon risk being transformed into competitive prerequisites. For this reason, increasing numbers of companies are looking for other, more enduring, competitive tools – such as brands.