A company's marketing efforts have a direct impact on their sales and market share, but they are not the only factors that influence overall performance in their respective industries. Creating a positive brand image through marketing efforts is also vital to a business's success.

Key Takeaways

  • Creating a positive brand image through marketing efforts is vital to a business's success.
  • A brand encompasses the consumer's complete experience with both the product and the company and the mix of associations that develop as a result of these interactions.
  • The most effective way for a company to increase its market share is to create an integrated strategy for marketing and branding and, in so doing, provide consumers with a unified and seamless way to interact with the brand.

Brand Image Drives Consumer Behavior

A brand is much more than a familiar name or logo that identifies a business, product, or service and is presented through traditional advertising strategies. A brand encompasses the consumer's complete experience with both the product and the company and the mix of associations that develop as a result of these interactions. The brand image that a company achieves is a powerful tool for gaining market leverage; when a company has created a positive brand image, it can influence its target audience's buying habits.

With the influx of available brands on the market currently, more consumers are making their buying decisions based on the brand image rather than the product.

Brand Image Educates Consumers About Values

Apple Inc. (AAPL​) built its brand image on the passion and innovation of its founder, Steve Jobs. Their advertising campaign with the slogan "Think Different" encapsulated their values: Defying expectations and acting rebelliously is the way to achieve greatness. Not only have their marketing efforts established for the consumer what the company stands for and what sets them apart, but they are also savvy about educating consumers about what makes their products different.

The company has gained further recognition for its ability to evolve quickly to meet the wants and needs of modern consumers.

Brand Image Creates Consumer Loyalty

In the early days of personal computers, brand awareness was necessary to obtain a fair portion of market share, and it still takes a strong brand to remain a market leader as technology advances in this industry.

Apple upholds its positive brand image by continuing to meet the needs of consumers. Good business ethics and a history of creative marketing campaigns also maintain the company's market position. Brand image is an important driving force in establishing customer loyalty. This can be observed when a consumer who has already invested in an iPhone is more likely to switch to the next generation of the smartphone when it becomes available.

An Integrated Strategy for Marketing and Branding

The most effective way for a company to increase its market share is to create an integrated strategy for marketing and branding. An integrated approach creates a unified and seamless way for consumers to interact with the brand.

When Marriott International, Inc. (MAR) started marketing its line of Renaissance Hotels, they marketed the brand as offering accommodations for business travelers who also have an interest in the culture of their business destinations. The company crafted this brand image by creating an interactive website that allows visitors to explore local attractions near each of their hotel locations.

In 2019, the company took this concept a step further, introducing a campaign called "Discover This Way." As a part of this campaign, each of their hotels now has a Renaissance Navigator, a local host who curates unique experiences based on the lifestyle and interests of each hotel guest.

The hotels have also partnered with local venues—called This Way partners—that help facilitate these experiences. When guests check-in, they're given a map identifying This Way partner locations. If they decide to visit these locations, they can present a token provided by the hotel and get an exclusive perk such as access to a secret art gallery or an off-menu, hand-crafted cocktail at a local bar.

This strategy has earned the company a favorable position in the target segment of the market. Renaissance Hotels added more than nine new locations in 2019 and renovated more than 15 of its locations in 2019.

Effective Marketing Reinforces Beliefs

The marketplace for products is very crowded, with many similar products and a lot of advertisements trying to get the attention of consumers. Companies that have developed a strong brand image know the effect of how a brand is communicated to consumers. Getting noticed is important, but it's even more important to know who your consumers want to be.

Apple has been able to connect with an audience who think of themselves as out-of-the-box thinkers and innovators. With their Renaissance Hotel line, Marriott has been able to get in touch with the sensibilities of businesspeople who also think of themselves as adventurous travelers. Effective marketing reinforces beliefs that consumers already have about themselves.

In some situations, a market may be primarily price-driven, meaning the company with the lowest product prices will hold the largest share of the market. However, many purchasing decisions are impacted by emotion and are not solely rational (they do not maximize savings). There is evidence of this in the soft drink industry, where the Coca-Cola Company (KO) and PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP) are able to compete with—even generate more sales than—generic versions of their sodas that are made using the same ingredients but are more cheaply priced.