So much for the consumer, but what value does branding offer to brand owners? On one level, it delivers a degree of stability and consistency in sales, and therefore in operations, which improves efficiency and therefore profitability. On another, it gives companies â and thus the people who work for them â a code of behaviour, a set of rules to act by. But, says Gee, the power of a strong brand extends much further than that.
âBrands offer a way to exercise a degree of control over,â? he says. âDominant brands can leverage the strength of their relationships with customers into their relationships with retailers also, gaining more favourable terms of trade. Powerful brands act as a means of control over competitive efforts, and as a barrier or deterrent to new competitive entrants. I make no value judgements about this, itâs simply the way things are.â?
Like Gee, Craig Merrigan, VP marketing strategy and design at PC manufacturer Lenovo, has little time for cosmetic branding exercises.
âThe best way to build a strong brand is to build a strong reality,â? says Merrigan. âYou have to earn what you want people to believe. If you look at Lenovo as a company, we want to be known as a new world company that makes the best engineered PCs, so one of the biggest things we need to do is deliver a great product and stand behind it with excellent service. This is fundamental principle of good branding.â?
As an example of how this works in practice, Merrigan cites the example of Lenovoâs sponsorship of the Winter Olympics in Turin in 2006, where the company not only put its name and money behind the event, but is products service and expertise as well.
âWe had 6,000 units of Lenovo product in Torino helping to run every aspect of the Games, from administration to judging to the transmission of TV images,â? says Merrigan. âWeâll be doing the same thing in Beijing next year and it will be four times as large.â?
Part 3 will be published on Tuesday 10th July.