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For a majority of the businesses today, branding is a common marketing strategy. As a term that is increasingly gaining popularity in the field of marketing, branding could symbolise a design, term or name. Alternatively, all of the aforementioned parameters could still be used in combination in reference to a brand (Aaker 1991). Many organisations are now aware of the fact that the strength of a brand play a pivotal role in as far as competition is concerned. This is because a good brand gives a company a sound competitive edge in the market, relative to its rivals (Lake 2010. par.1). When a company boasts of a good brand, then it is also in a position to effectively deliver on its intended objectives of marketing (Roth 19895, p. 5). In addition, a good brand enables a company to win credibility in the market by winning the trust of customers. This is because customers are motivated to identify themselves with a winning brand. Consequently they become loyal to such a brand (Lake 2010. par.3). Branding is also present in various financial service providers, notably the banks. Brand management can be evaluated in terms of position, image and effectiveness. In this case, we will evaluate three bank brands; HSBC, Barclays and RBS brands.
There is a correlation between on the one hand, an individual’s personality and on the other hand, brand image. Every time a particular brand is mentioned, the customers’ feelings are evoked in a certain way and as a result, the image of a brand is a very big influencer in the market. When we have a huge positive response from the customers when a brand is mentioned, it shows that the brand image is strong. In short, brand image is the perception the customers have on one’s brand (Lake, 2010. par.1).
A majority of the firm have now recognised the need to ensure that their brands are not only developed effectively, but are managed in a sound manner as well. According to Ogliyy (1963 in Martin, 1992, par.2), a well communicated brand image enables consumers to identify the needs and wants that are well satisfied by the firm (Park et al, 1986, p.135).
Barclays, HSBC and RBS (all based in the United Kingdom) are financial service institutions having international standards. They are state- of- the art brands that have a diverse market. They are involved in banking, investment banking and investment management. Their logos are well known and distinct, in effect appealing to customers every time they come across them. In this case, the logos are linked to the kinds of services these financial institutions offers to customers (Roth 1992, p. 4). They have utilized advertisement to improve on its image to the consumers by use of billboards, televisions and use of fliers to communicate to its customers and prospective customers.
The concept of building brand image through event sponsorship is also on the rise. Brand association is a good way to remember a brand through the events it has associated itself in (Keller, 1993 p. 3). After the event, the sales of a firm may increase tremendously (Gwinner et al 1999). The most common of is Barclays, owing to its association with football. In this case, it is important to note that Barclays remains the official sponsor of the football premier in England, commonly referred to as Barclays Premier League. RBS is associated with charity events for fund raising, and HBSC associates itself with the sale of arena tickets in sports.
This is a term used in reference to the perceived value of a marketer’s product or service in the eyes of a customer, relative to those offered by competition (Prodigalmedia.com, 2010, par.2). These perceptions are contributed by the way the Market sees your brand, the experience(s) it has had with the brand and what they see and hear from various points of reference (salespeople, your advertising and the media). It is clear that the three entities have positioned themselves strategically in the market. From the exhaustive advertisements that they carry out and the fact that all have high standard services makes them dominate most of the other banks both in the United Kingdom and in other continents like Africa and Asia. This positioning makes them to have a larger share of the market segment in their fields of operation.
The effectiveness of a brand can be measured by differentiation, distinctiveness, defendable-ness, and digit-ableness (Modernmind.com 2010, par.8). Distinct brands widen the field for effective communication and competition (Modernmind.com 2010, par.8). For Barclays, HSBC and RBS banks, their brand names are very distinct and the mention or visual impression of all the three relates well to the customers and at the same time differently unique from one another and from other firms in the same line of operation. This also differentiates its products from those of another (Gregory, 1993).
Secondly, there is differentiation, the clear positioning of a business and the services offered to the customers (Modernmind.com 2010, par.8). The three banks, Barclays, HSBC and RBS, have precisely defined their operation to relate to their services, that is, banking, investment and financial management. Again, these three services are well separated and defined to give their customers high quality services according to their, customers, needs.
Thirdly is the issue of defendability. The brand must have propriety strength to keep competitors and other entities from using close approximations, applying to a business’s trademarks, names and logos used as well as visual assets (Modernmind.com, 2010, par.8). For a long time the three financial institutions have operated under these distinctive brand names. The laws that govern registrations of trademarks and names of operation have been followed and legal requirements fulfilled. Therefore, the three firms have the capacity to defend themselves from any fraud relating to aping or registration of their trade names and brands by law.
Lastly, we have the issue of digit-ability. This is the element of electronic communication and commerce in business. This is a culture/ trend that is at the moment growing stronger. It dictates the leveraging of brand assets in electronic and tactile forms (Modernmind.com 2010, par.8). Since we are living in a digital world, the compliance with this aspect of development has seen the banking sector introduce digital financial services. Customers are being offered the privilege of banking at long distances without necessarily going to the banks. Services like automated teller machine (ATM), mobile banking, e-banking and electronic money transfers are evident and rampant, of which these three institutions are in the front line to serve its customers.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The economic downturn has affected different spheres of the economy. Banking industry has not been spared the wrath either. With customers opting to source services from brands of the oldest financial institutions it has become hard for new banking institutions to experience growth. For banks to effectively attract customers, they need to concentrate on venturing into current issues. This is evidenced by the tendency of customers to associate different banks with different approaches. Investing in face to face communication with customers will help banks convince their customers thus making them loyal to their brand. For banks to regain their performance lost during the economic recession, they need to ensure that they have regained customer loyalty. This calls for them to heavily invest in brand positioning.
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