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RESEARCH SERIES: What makes a brand strong?

IUMsuggestsReading

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06.16.2017

Do we need to create a large number of highly unique and favorable associations potential customers agree about to have a strong brand?

There is not one best way, says Dr.Hans Mühlbacher, Research Director at the International University of Monaco, who has addressed this question of brand managers together with Dr. Karine Raïes, Professor at INSEEC Business School Lyon and two Austrian colleagues who teach in IUM post graduate programs.

There is not one best way to create a strong brand.

High favorability, a big number, high uniqueness of brand associations and strong perceived consensus of consumers can each be sufficient for creating a strong brand, says Karine Raïes. Real consensus is not important. However, none of these characteristics is necessary for a brand to be highly reputed and trusted by consumers, who hold very positive brand images.

High favorability, big number, high uniqueness of brand associations and strong perceived consensus of consumers are each individually sufficient for creating a strong brand.

729 members of an online panel representing the German population between age 18 and 80 participated in a survey covering the most well known brands of sport shoes, gasoline, toothpaste, and mobile phones. The respondents were invited to freely list what comes to their mind when thinking of one of four brands they said knowing in each product category, to indicate how favorable or unfavorable they considered each of these associations to be, and to what extent they think other people share the same associations. By comparing the responses the researchers determined the uniqueness of each association and the level of real consensus between consumers concerning their associations.

None of these characteristics is necessary for a strong brand.

Research results show that there is not one but a number of different ways to successfully create a strong brand. In the category of sport shoes, for example, a substantial number of fans of Adidas, Puma, or Reebok think sharing a large number of highly favorable associations but these associations are not unique. Another group of consumers who love Adidas have neither particularly positive nor negative associations with the brand, but have a large number of unique associations they consider sharing with many others. They see the brand greatly differentiated from competitors. And a third group of Adidas fans thinks to share a large number of highly positive and unique associations with the brand.

Consumer segments can have different combinations of brand association characteristics that make a brand very strong.

The researchers conclude that there is not one magic recipe for creating a strong brand. In each product category there are several different combinations of brand association characteristics related to strong brands.

Hans MuhlbacherIf you are interested in more details concerning the research please feel free to contact: hmuhlbacher@monaco.edu 

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