Brands are one of the important influences on our life that appear everywhere and have great impact on the way we see our world. According to Aaker (1996), brands enable consumers to express themselves, to reduce risk when purchasing, and to navigate in crowded markets. Doubtless, everybody would agree with the fact that brands are an undeniable part of our daily life and influence our decisions on all levels; from purchasing products to choosing a college or university.
According to Riezebos (2003), it is believed that the old Norse word “brandr” is a root of the English word of brand and this word was carried out to England by Vikings and eventually became part of modern English vocabulary. There are several kinds of brands and numerous perspectives existing about the brand concept. A brand can be referred as the most valuable asset of the company (Keller & Lehmann, 2003), a name that influences customers, sign of the product or service that differentiates from others, etc. Overall, Kapferer (2004) suggests a brand to be understood as a system that consists of three poles: products and service, brand concept (value proposition), and brand name and symbols.
One fact should be taken into consideration when the brand is matter of discussion: the over-defined brand concept in a number of different meanings has caused a problem for researchers, who may study same concept under different name or another way around (Stern, 2006). Regarding this Stern suggests that “both literal and metaphorical meanings are considered important aspects of construct definition, whereby everyday language is translated into formal language terms for scientific discourse” (Stern, 2006, p. 217).
Furthermore, Stern gives two classifications of a brand as a noun and verb. In the first expression of a brand, it refers to a person or place. In the latter one it is connected to the process of making a product meaningful. “Stern further comments that in the physical world, a brand is a name or mark associated to a product while in the minds of people it refers to a mental representation or perception of a psychological meaning” (Stern, 2006 cited in Karlsson, 2006, p.4).
For a long time, in the western world, brands were used to develop products and used to differentiate products. However, after the realization of the Eastern adoption of brands like using a company as a master brand, a new brand concept, corporate brand, was established for a company brand.
Actually, the concept of company brand is a new topic in the literature and only in 90s the company brand concept was assessed by some communication and branding consultants. Despite the fact that until 1995 corporate brand concept draws few researchers’ attention, the thought on the importance of corporate brand was getting broader. The word corporate originates from the Latin word of ‘corpus’. (Kapferer, 2001) The word ‘Corpus’ in Latin means ‘body’. Non confineable characteristic of a company to a single brand on the top level increased the interest on corporate brands. Since companies consists of some business entitles such as subsidiaries, corporations and networks, it was realized that the corporate brand can increase the meanings and the depth of business instead of being just a desire. (Kapferer, 2001; Knox & Bickerton, 2003)
In accordance with The American Marketing Association (1960) a brand is “a name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition.” (TAMA, 1960, cited in Karlsson, 2006, p.4) Despite the high relevance of this definition, the intangible aspects that are important for creating value and building relationships are not covered in this definition (Aaker, 1996). In contrast, de Chernatony (2001b) highlights the intangible components (i.e. functional and emotional values) of the brand by defining a corporate brand as “a cluster of functional and emotional values which promises stakeholders a particular experience” (de Chernatony , 2001b, p.4)
The previous definition is more relevant compared to the tangible components. While the first can only be applied for products, the second definition considers brands for the product and corporate level.
Turan Suleymanov (Turan Suleymanoglu)
Professor of Management
The International School of Economics