There is no way to mistake the ubiquitous trademarked Coca-Cola bottle, or the stylish ads for Absolut Vodka with any of their competitors. How have these companies created this irresistible appeal for their brands? How have they sustained a competitive edge through aesthetics?
Bernd Schmitt and Alex Simonson, two leading experts in the emerging field of identity management, offer clear guidelines for harnessing a company's total aesthetic output-- its "look and feel"-- to provide a vital competitive advantage. Going beyond standard traditional approaches on branding, this fascinating book is the first to combine branding, identity, and image and to show how aesthetics can be managed through logos, brochures, packages, and advertisements, as well as sounds, scents, and lighting, to sell "the memorable experience." The authors explore what makes a corporate or brand identity irresistible, what styles and themes are crucial for different contexts, and what meanings certain visual symbols convey. Any person in any organization in any industry can benefit from employing the tools of "marketing aesthetics".
Schmitt and Simonson describe how a firm can use these tools strategically to create a variety of sensory experiences that will (1) ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty; (2) sustain lasting customer impressions about a brand's or organization's special personality; (3) permit premium pricing; (4) provide legal "trade dress" protection from competitive attacks; (5) lower costs and raise productivity; and (6) most importantly, create irresistible appeal. The authors show how to manage identity globally and how to develop aesthetically pleasing retail spaces and environments. They also address the newly emergent topic of how to manage corporate and brand identity on the Internet. Supporting their thesis with numerous real-world success stories such as Absolut Vodka, Nike, the Gap, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Starbucks, the New Beetle Website, and Lego, the authors explain how actual companies have developed, refined, and maintained distinct corporate identities that set them apart from competitors.
Journal of International Marketing
Should the focus of a brand-extension strategy be on product-category related factors (e.g., the fit between the extension and the core product) or should consumers' attention be drawn to characteristics of the company providing the extension (e.g., company size)? Examining this issue experimentally in Hong Kong and in the United States with samples of students and working professionals, we find that for U.S. consumers, perceived fit is much more important than company size; for Hong Kong consumers, company size does not matter for high fit extensions, but does matter for low fit extensions. We suggest the value of collectivism may explain the relative higher importance of corporate identity for East Asian consumers. East Asian consumers rely on companies as interdependent, collective societal entities to reduce the risk of a low fit extension, whereas U.S. consumers-as individualists-place higher importance on their own judgment regarding the product fit rather than cues such as company size.
Chinese names consist of logographs that represent the meanings of a word, whereas English names consist of alphabetic letters that represent the sound of the word. Therefore, we propose that Chinese brand attitudes are primarily affected by the match between script associations and brand associations, but brand attitudes of English names are primarily affected by the match between sound associations and brand associations. A cross-cultural study conducted in China and the United States confirms these predictions. These findings add further evidence to the stream of research that shows how structural features of languages and writing systems affect consumer behavior.
Columbia Journal of World Business
East Asian companies are increasingly positioning themselves as international players, carrying their corporate and brand identities across East Asia and beyond. Companies in the U.S. and Europe have, meanwhile, sought to compete for business in East Asia, with regionally targeted marketing campaigns of their own. The author points out that corporate identity—the names and symbols that businesses use to represent them in East Asia—must be defined differently than in the West in order to appeal to regional clients and customers. Faced with tough competition in terms of quality and cost, managers of corporate identity must be sensitive to linguistic and cultural factors in order to sell their products. This article summarizes the author's research on the linguistic and cultural factors pertinent to naming and visual identity issues and illustrates how strong sales in East Asia can be partially attributed to an appreciation of these factors.
Bernd H. Schmitt is associate professor of business at Columbia Business School. Professor Schmitt has, taught executive programs and seminars throughout East Asia. He has held visiting appointments at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the China-Europe Management Institute in Beijing (China). This article was written while he was a visiting scholar at the China-Europe International Business School in Shanghai.