Brand Destruction- Is it negative marketing ?

A brand is an offering from a known source. It takes years for a company to build its brand image and to get acceptable reputation of its own. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.” In order to clearly understand the concept of brand destruction and the organized thinking and forces behind it let us first understand what it means and a little about its origin.
A brand is a product or service that sets itself apart from other products or services of the same category by establishing some factor or dimension of its own. It has prevailed from centuries and can be seen to evolve from the earlier times when European craftsmen used to put trademarks on their products. Fine arts started branding by artists signing off their work pieces.

Brand not only allows the consumers to assign responsibility for performance and satisfaction to the manufacturer or distributor or service provider but also helps decision making where they need to choose as to which brand is satisfying their needs. Now talking of the hot topic of “Brand Destruction”, the next very intelligent questions which arise at the very sound of these two words are- “Is it an ethical practice to destroy a brand?”, “Is it negative marketing?”, “Is it positioning your products in a way so as to harm other’s products or market share?”
Well there are no absolutes like there are always two sides of a coin. The concept of brand destruction also needs to be analyzed in two aspects. As it goes in a game, there is healthy spirited competition and then there is this league of accomplishing it by whatever means you possibly can. The same analogy somewhere applies to the concept of brand destruction wherein the motive can be to destroy an established brand image by either providing better products or services in a competitive approach where you engage your energies and strengths in building better than what prevails or else take the shortcut approach.
The shortcut approach which I choose to mention separately is the concept of defaming a brand. Without getting to any names a very evident example of this concept which can be very well guessed upon is in the soft drinks market. There are numerous such examples of giant companies which when competing to be the best goes into the practices of brand destruction the negative way. In this global village where you have access to millions by clicks of a few buttons you can consider the ill effects of brand destruction a serious threat for no matter which company you talk about especially with the number of  choices and reduction of decision time as time is passing by.
The stretching of brand can also force a company to evaluate market conditions and in lieu of launching a new product cause a self-brand destruction. When Maruti stopped its Maruti 800 and went ahead with Alto 800 that must precisely have been the idea. The overall impact depends on consumer acceptance and market segmentation as well as on the understanding of the needs and wants of the customers.
I believe the following factors give us an understanding:
i. The age at which the emotional engagement occurs:
The age at which the customer engages with the brand is critical to the brand’s longevity.
For the consumer to truly engage with the brand it needs to be very visible both in the house and on TV. Brands develop an emotional engagement and change from those as a child to a teenager and then to a young adolescent and finally into a mature adult, through all these phases the emotional engagement with the product occurs and changes.
ii. The impact of creative destruction:
The term coined by the economist “Joseph Schumpeter” was to describe the radical transformation that accompanies innovation. The market makes a tectonic move in technology and the domestic brands are left behind unable to compete.
iii. Strong brand management:
A brand must stay relevant and adapt itself to the macro consumer trends or it will diminish and die through neglect
iv. Justifying a premium positioning:
Brands find it extremely difficult to maintain premium position for long terms. There are examples of a relationship between price premium and longevity- where price premium is defined by a brand having a higher value than volume market share.
v. Domination of the emerging channels:
Spending time finding out which channels and which retailers will emerge as the leading force and forcing resources there is likely to pay dividends in the long run.
[The article has been written by Priyo Ranjan. He is presently pursuing his MBA from XISS, Ranchi.]

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