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Management is a very essential element of production in every organization irrespective of size or the operations it is involved with. It entails the organization and coordination of activities and practices of an organization with respect to certain policies in order to achieve some stipulated goals and objectives.
Brand on the other hand is a name, a symbol or design that clearly identifies a seller’s good or service distinctively as compared to those offered by other sellers. It is more of a trademark. Brand management is therefore a broad management practice that involves aspects such as definition of the brand, its positioning as well as delivering the brand. It simply entails the art of creating and sustaining a brand (Randall 2000).
This piece of work gives an in depth discussion of brand management including contemporary key branding theory and the impact on brand management practice. A comparative perspective will be taken where Louis Vuitton brand and the Giorgio Armani brand will be compared and contrasted in regard to the brand strategies they apply.
As stated earlier, branding is one of the most important activities that can significantly determine the success of a particular organization. This is because it helps in creation of a unique name which differentiates a company’s products from those produced by its competitors. This exercise plays a pivotal role in attraction and retention of customers in a competitive environment as well as winning their loyalty.
However, the success of a brand will largely depend on the effectiveness of the branding process. In order for a company to sell the new product successfully, we need to have an effective branding strategy (Fisher, Pride & Ellen 2006).
In order to have a clear understanding of the theory of brand management, it is important that we take a look at the concept of marketing mix. Marketing mix is a very crucial marketing model.
It entails the different choices that organizations make in the process of introducing a product or service to the market. The 4ps; product/service, place, price and promotion is a model that is used to describe the marketing mix (Lamb 2009).
In order for the product to perform well in the market, it should be beneficial to the consumers. For any organization to maximize its sales, its product must be stronger when compared with the products or services provided by its competitors. There are several ways through which an organization can modify its product in order to improve its competitiveness.
One of the most common methods is through differentiation (Trehan and Trehan 2009). Through differentiation, an organization manages to make its product unique from other similar products provided by their competitors in the market.
We for example find Louis Vuitton Company making some changes in the portable wardrobe after the realization that there was some form of copying by other companies. Vuitton surname was printed on the canvas at regular intervals making the name to be associated with stylish travel. This is a way of making its product as unique as possible.
For the sake of Giorgio Armani there have also been some efforts to make their products unique and attractive through branding practices. It has for instance designed various sub-brands to cater for the special needs portrayed by different market segments.
This has enabled it to cater for different preferences in the market. “Armani has earned the much hallowed space in the fashion industry through its superior design, relevant themes and trends appealing to the current crop of customers and by maintaining the aura of a real luxury brand” (Venture Republic 2002: par 3).
According to Westwood (2005), in order for an organization to maintain a high level of sales, it must ensure that the product and services are always available and accessible to both existing and potential customers. For an organization to ensure that its product is available to its customers in the right place and at the right time, it needs to have a clear distribution strategy.
An organization must include the strategies which ensure that the company’s goods and services are available to their customers in the right place and in the right time. Inefficiencies like shortages are likely to discourage the customers and an organization may lose some of them in the process (Pride and Ferrell 2007).
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Place is an element that has been handled very well by both Louis Vuitton brand and the Giorgio Armani brand. Armani have established a strong network to ensure that customers located in different places/ countries are able to access the products easily.
It has a total of 317units in 37 countries. Vuitton on the other hand has more than 300 retail outlets around the world. In addition, the company went ahead and opened global stores for instance that on the Champs-Elysees.
Dickman (1995) asserts that promotion is another important component in the marketing mix. It is through promotion that an organization is able to expose its service or product to the members of the public. Through promotion, an organization manages to increase the visibility of its product or service.
This practice plays a crucial role in marketing because customers cannot buy things they are not aware of. They should be informed in order to make appropriate decisions.
One of the main ways through which an organization can do this is through advertisement (Face Media Digital 2011). Through promotion, an organization pushes its product into the market. An organization can do this through various ways like offering discounts for its product.
This is one way of marketing its products in the market. By offering discounts, an organization may attract new customers and also retain the existing customers at the same time (Tuto2 2011).
We find Louis Vuitton employing various promotional strategies to make its products known through its image or brand for instance print advertising. Well known models are used in the promotion for example Naomi Campbell. In addition, popular culture celebrities are incorporated for instance Jennifer Lopez. This is in an effort to create an impression of passion, sexuality as well as wealth and social achievement.
This has greatly increased sales for the products offered by the company. In regard to Armani, the company has also engaged in different promotional strategies in the different product categories. Through established links, Armani has been able to promote other related categories for instance cosmetics, eye wear, and watches.
This shows the power of branding and how it could be used to sell related categories of products. For instance, various products have been related to fashion and luxury and a big market established thus leading to increased level of sales and profitability.
The price of product is also of great significance. It is important for an organization to decide on whether the product or service will either cover the costs of production only or give some allowance for profits. According to demand law, when the prices are high the level of the quantity demanded is relatively lower (WebProNews 2011). On the other hand, when prices are low, the level of the quantity demanded is higher.
It is also important to note that both the level of prices and sales are major determinant in the level of profits an organization makes. This clearly indicates that prices have an important role in marketing (Chandra 2005). If an organizations sets price levels which are beyond the level in the market, then it will more likely lose its customers to its competitors.
Prices can make an organization to fail or perform well in its marketing (The Times 100 2011). On the other hand, too low prices can dip an organization into losses. Therefore, an organization must be very keen in setting its prices. According to Becatti (2007), pricing is one of the key factors in marketing and plays a pivotal role in determining the realization of the organization’s objectives.
However, the pricing is largely determined by the life cycle of the product in question as well as the objectives for the sales turnover. In addition, the pricing will also largely depend on the market share (Bizhelp24 2010).
Pricing has been handled well in the Giorgio Armani brand. In order to satisfy the needs of different categories of customers in regard to affordability which in turn depend on income earned by the customers, the company has come up with different categories for different segments of customers through the Giorgio Armani brand architecture; The signature Giorgio Armani line, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans and A/X Armani Exchange.
This ensures that price does not become an obstacle by restricting the categories of customers that can access the various types of products offered by the company. Although the concept of pricing have not been clearly stipulated in the Louis Vuitton Company’s profile, it is clear that the prices charged on the products are affordable.
“Hours before the opening of its flagship store on the Champs-Elysées, dozens of Japanese tourists stand in line, convinced they will be able to acquire a prized monogrammed item at a fraction of the price they would pay in Tokyo” (Tungate 2008: 157).
In any marketing operations, it is important to identify the target market for a particular product or service. A target market can be viewed as a group of customers having similar wants and needs (Moehlman 2010). Identification of the target market plays an important role in organization’s marketing operations because it helps an organization in developing and offering for the parts of the market which they can best serve.
This identification is also very important because it helps in reducing operational expenses in an organization. Both the Louis Vuitton brand and the Giorgio Armani brand have gone an extra mile in identifying the target market and hence the establishment of many retail outlets to serve the different customers who in one way or the other requires the companies’ products and services (Business Resource Software Inc.2011).
It is clear that the two companies, Louis Vuitton and the Giorgio Armani are in the same industry, that is, the fashion industry. Although they have both been successful in their branding practices to a great extent, there exist some similarities and differences in their strategies.
One similarity between these companies is that they are both in the same industry and have applied branding strategies in an aim to increasing their sales. They have also been in a process of expansion as they open new branches day by day whenever an opportunity exist.
Unlike Louis Vuitton that have expanded by acquiring existing brands, Giorgio Armani has created its own sub-brands and more so diversified into new products categories. This has in a great way helped in the creation of a coherent branded environment.
The signature; Giorgio Armani usually sets a tone and style for all the practices the company is involved with. Beneath the signature brand is Armani Collezioni, followed by Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans and A/X Armani Exchange. All these labels market other accessories (Tungate 2008).
I certainly declare that Louis Vuitton brand and the Giorgio Armani brand have effectively managed their marketing mix as discussed above in an effort to enhance their branding strategies. They have for instance ensured that their products are unique through enhancing their qualities and using the brands.
This has helped deal with the competitors in a proper manner through attracting as well as retaining as many customers as possible. In regard to place, they have both tried to reach as many customers at the right place as possible through opening of many retail outlets to enhance distribution.
Different promotional strategies have also been deployed by these companies to increase the level of sales through creating some loyalty among customers. Although pricing is usually a complex concept, these two brands have tried to see into it that price does not in any way affect the customers negatively but rather helped in making the products they offer as accessible and affordable to as many customers as possible.
Mind Tools. (2011) states that the use of the 4Ps marketing mix model is a good move in an organization. This is because it helps in deciding on how to introduce a new offer to the market. It is also useful in testing the existing marketing strategies in order to take necessary actions.
The 4Ps model specifically helps in the definition of the marketing options with respect to product, place, price as well as promotion. It greatly helps a business organization to optimize the impact it has with its target market (Kotler 2003).
Effective management of the marketing mix model has helped Louis Vuitton and the Giorgio Armani brands to reach the far they have and be renowned worldwide and hence it is an issue that should be emphasized in any organization.
It is evident that the aspect of brand management is very crucial in every organization. This is because it strongly differentiates a seller’s products and services from those of the competitors’ and in so doing it gives a quality image to a business organization. It is therefore a concept that every organization that aims at succeeding should emphasize.
Different business organizations apply different brand strategies, each associated with some benefits and drawbacks. All in all, they are all aimed at enhancing sales and thus increasing profitability. It is however advisable for a business organization to evaluate all the possible brand strategies in an effort to choose the most suited in terms of the benefits that could accrue to it.
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