The essay is a critical reflection of brand management providing an insight into the learning derived from the branding theories by deriving a link between practice and theory. For conducting the critical reflection, there are two brands chosen. One is Huawei considered the successful brand and the other is Nokia the less successful brand. Huawei refers to the global provider of communications and information technology infrastructure and smarter devices while Nokia represents a global leader in the innovations that includes digital health, mobile networks and phones. The essay commences with a critical evaluation and comparison of each brand.
The essay also puts forward description and comparison of the brand based on the four theories that include personalization strategy, leveraging strategy, marketing communication strategy and brand architecture strategy. The essay then puts forward a reflection of the learning to describe the concept, theory and idea. It also focuses on the aspects that are challenging or interesting and ties with anything learned in the unit. The essay also reflects whether learning changed or affirmed something already known. There is also a reflection of the outcomes or analysis in future.
Critical Evaluation and Comparison of the Performance of Each Brand
According to Sawant (2018), the Honor brand of Huawei is gradually but slowly capturing the Smartphone market. This Chinese smart phone brand went immensely aggressive with the release of its smart phones. This helped the Huawei brand in creating a name for it in the last couple of years. The Honor Smart phones had excellent designs and had a price lower than its rivals had (Gibbs 2018). The introduction of Honor Play has also been one of its kinds with low costing (Sin 2018). The Huawei phones are well- made and have a good screen, reasonable camera and battery life. Besides, they also have finger print scanner at the back with exceptional features (Gibbs 2018).
The Huawei phones run on Android 8.1 Oreo instead of Andriod 9 Pie and do not fall under the water resistant category. The only issue of the brand has been all the three models of the Honor phones with Kirin 970 processor that were almost similar. Thus, if one looks for a metal phone under £280 then Honor Play should be on the preferred list.
On the other hand, according to Rosendahl and Auchard (2018), the performance of Nokia has been better in the fourth quarter and the Nokia branded smart phones gave tough competition to the accomplished players. Thus, Nokia one of the Finland’s strong and valuable brands has a growth of 56 percent that is close to €4.4 billion (Garside 2013). The brand however reached its peak value in the year 2008 thereby making it the 9the most valuable brand in the world.
However, the slower response of the brand towards emergence of smart phone technology led to its decline it the presence of Samsung and Apple. This was the time when the brand value declined to € 1.5 billion in the year 2014. Series of consolidations paved the path of recovery for Nokia. In the year 2016, the brand acquired Alkatel Lucent and rebranded it as Nokia that also reinforced the brand’s position (nokia.com 2018).
Although Nokia have tried in tempting consumers with devices that offered flagship level Smart phone models on modest budget but it is the youth focused brand of Huawei that made an arena of affordable flagship on its own.
Branding Strategies of Huawei and Nokia
Huawei’s personalization strategy lay in enriching lives through communication. It is believed that by the year 2020, interactions between people, environment and things would necessitate close to 50 billion smarter phone connections (Baxi 2018). Thus, for dealing with the digital floods, Huawei ensured providing smarter, broader and energy efficient services. While the personalization strategy of Nokia lay in strengthening and expanding their leadership in mobile phones through branded personal Smart phones through speed, innovation and quality (Angelini 2014).
Huawei’s marketing communication strategy is targeted at serving the varied segments of the customers. The brand makes use of user benefiting and value based positioning strategies based on products offered to customers (Balmer and Chen 2017). While the marketing communication strategy of Nokia focused on conveying the practicality and the individuality of the Nokia phones that added benefit to consumers. The brand also sent unified marketing messages that differentiated Nokia. In other words, through its marketing strategy Nokia promised in empowering the lives of every individual through irresistible personal experiences (De Mooij 2018).
Huawei’s leveraging strategy lay in creation of strategic campaigns for enhancing the brand awareness(Feng et al. 2014). The brand also collaborated with the A-list celebrities and displayed newer products on large-scale exhibitions. As a leveraging strategy, Huawei brand engaged in visual posts that helped it in accumulating 44 million followers in Facebook. Besides, the brand also involved in the strategy of implementing high profile Ad campaigns. While the leveraging strategy of Nokia lay in the differentiation of product offering (Vuori and Huy 2016). The brand not only leveraged its installed base but also at the same time leveraged excellence in the network representing demand and supply. It also leveraged the economies of scale.
Brand architecture refers to how the company, organization or corporation structures it itself and the brands that already exist in the marketplace. The three approaches of a brand architecture strategy are product branding, corporate branding and endorsement branding (Kunkel, Funk and Hill 2013). The brand architecture strategy of Huawei lay in corporate branding and the successful acceptance of the end users in a shorter period. This strategy plays a crucial role when the brand thinks of an expansion from B2B to B2C. On the other hand, the brand architecture of Nokia falls under the endorsement branding where Microsoft is the parent brand and Nokia represents the sub brand. The technical endorsement of Nokia brand by the Microsoft ensures credibility to all its devices thereby easing consumer minds.
In this essay, the theory that I am reflecting upon is the brand architecture strategy. Brand architecture strategy represents structure of the brands within the organizational entity. It refers to the means through which brands within the company’s portfolio remains related or differentiated. In other words, it represents the strategic, logical and the relational structure of all the brands within portfolio. This enables an organization in creating brand portfolio that creates an appeal to distinct needs and segments. The brand architecture strategy, as we have seen earlier in this literature depends on three approaches that includes product branding, corporate branding and endorsement branding (Hsu, Fournier and Srinivasan 2016).
Corporate branding is found to consist of a single unified brand name that is relevant and easily known to consumer’s lives. The chosen brand name takes into consideration more than a single category and the products aligns with brand positioning of corporate name that typically did not have its own brand name. The key target of brand through this strategy remains in building reputation. It is found that by having an easily recognizable and solid corporate brand across all the products, the brand becomes capable of putting forward similar and consistent message across most products
Product branding becomes easily visible when a corporate brand remains hidden not only on the product but across all the advertising messages. Only one name is assigned to a product at a time and each of the newly released products represents a newer brand.
Endorsement branding is the last approach in the brand architecture strategy. I have found that the endorser brand architecture is one that is made of distinct and individual product brands that remains linked together by a parent brand. This approach succeeds where it is able to link a family of the product brands through a shared higher level of promise valued by the target customers.
The aspects considered are interesting since it takes into consideration a full system of the portfolio ecosystem where it is necessary to think beyond the own portfolio of products and considering all means of adding value to the customers. The aspects also ensure preparing for the future. This means that through the proactive adoption of a progressive perspective, I will be able to establish organizing principles that would help in building a durable architecture of the brand. Another interesting aspect lies in rebalancing the stakeholders. This means that with the evaluation and the development of the portfolio scenarios I must also broaden the number of stakeholders.
The aspects considered as part of the brand architecture strategy also puts forward a number of challenges. This includes deterioration of brand equity based on customer through creation of confusion or disconnection in the consumer’s mind regarding the brand. I have found that it also involves higher cost in terms of branding or marketing resources. It not only leads to cannibalization of product sales but also leads to undermining of other branding initiatives. Challenges of the aspects are placed in terms of misaligned or unobtainable growth strategies and business goals.
The concept thus helps in getting a closer insight into the concept of brand architecture (Strebinger 2014). It helped me in understanding that internally, brand architecture, involved in developing the framework that helped in identifying how the existing products, brands and services undertakes an interplay with one another thereby defining the elements to be consistently presented across the services and products. This also helps in the creation of criteria via which all the subsequent extensions are tested suitable for fit. Externally, the concept culminates in developing a framework via which the consumers are able to organize and understand the products and service in their minds.
It has however changed the way I used to think because although the fundamentals of brand architectures strategy and analysis seemed simple but their effective implementation and application seemed quite complex. Moreover, the consequences of failure have been difficult to diagnose and far-reaching. It is found that such types of decisions hinges on the unique strategic direction. Until now, it was possible in mitigating the misaligned architecture of the brand through either an extension or building a new story. However, the concept has taught me that the ideal thing for a brand in the long term might involve tearing down the old structures in order to strengthen and redesign the foundations of the brand.
Outcomes or Actions
I would incorporate the analysis in achieving the long-term business goals. A firm with the goals of going public can put forward a brand-centric strategy for facilitating higher levels of customer-dependent brand equity and in return get a higher valuation compared to the competitors through increasingly compartmentalized product brand structures in place. I would also incorporate the analysis in determining the strategic direction. A company whose key competitor uses complicated master brand structures might have opportunity of differentiation through the creation of unique brand for its branding initiatives positioned around the specialization and best breed status.
I might also consider the analysis in determining the bottom line. Companies based on technology and operating within the industry that is characterized by higher level of innovation helps in avoiding product brand strategies since the cost of marketing and branding each new product remains too higher. Therefore, adoption of a brand architecture strategy by such firms will not only leverage brand awareness and equity but also determine the positioning of every new product.
On a concluding note, it can be said that, although Huawei achieved immense success in last thirty years, it also faces business challenges. It is therefore important for Huawei to place innovation in the forefront being a part of the technology and digital sector. On the other hand, brand Nokia, once a dominant phone maker succumbed to a gradual downfall as it initially could not keep up with the smart phone market. Through the essay one can get an overview of the branding strategies of Huawei as well as Nokia. The portion on self reflection gives an insight into brand architecture strategy that is one of the important concepts of branding. It is one of the primary factors that ensure making a brand durable and strong. When a company is planning to launch newer products or undertaking an extension of its product line then a comprehensive brand architecture strategy acts as a boon.
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