Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Measuring Place Brand Equity: A Review of Current Models

Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Measuring Place Brand Equity: A Review of Current Models

Article excerpt

Introduction

Brands are parts of our daily lives. They surround us in the form of a product we take off from a shelf in a shop, or in the form of a service we inquire, the firm we work for, and even the city we live in. Brands are capable of influencing our decision, and many times they can even define the way we decide. And the decisions we make are often related to more than just the toothpaste we buy, the mobile phone we use, the car we drive, or the restaurant we like to go to - they also refer to the place where we want to live, the destination we choose for our holidays, the place where we want to set up a new branch for our company or where we want to invest our savings.

In the case of classic brands, products or services, the immaterial and the material values of the brand are taken into account separately during the process of defining brand equity. When it comes to a company selling a product or service, the material values include the factories and the equipment the company owns, as well as the patents it holds. The values of these can be defined easily, of course, but in the case of the immaterial values - which are not objects, as their denomination suggests - the process becomes more complex. We are talking about those values which, in the mind of the consumers, are associated to the respective product or service. Consequently, brands have both the characteristics that are based on facts, true statements and reality, and the characteristics that are based on impressions, ideas, stories and feelings.

Today there are very few differences between the products we buy and the services we inquire, regarding the functionalities of the products and the quality of the services. That is why the values consumers associate with a certain brand comes to the front. When buying a car, the consumers will not make their choice based on the basic or even extra functions the car might have, but mainly based on what the logo placed on the front of the car communicates to them.

Consumers place confidence in brands, thus they assume that the product they purchase will live up to their expectations. Nowadays consumers do not appreciate the product on the basis of its effective value, but rather based on the product's ability to deliver the experiences they are expecting (Govers - Go, 2009: 149). Thus, the brand becomes a promise, a guarantee for the consumers that proves their good decision. Therefore, one can affirm that the value of a certain product depends on the way the consumers relate to the brand. Branding literature emphasizes that the consumers are the ones who can make a product, a service, a person or even a place to become a brand, because the strength of a brand relies in the conscience of the consumers, and this strength has relatively little to do with the effective qualities (Anholt, 2005: 4).

In the same time, we should not forget about the emotional influence of these brands either. Through these brands we are able to communicate certain things about ourselves towards our community. Luxurious brands directly communicate material well-being, and they also suggest that the individual has a higher social status. We often decide to buy the product of a certain brand because we can, or at least we want to identify ourselves with the values the respective brand represents. The story of Apple is a good example for this: on the one hand, they succeeded in winning customers trust by creating only high quality, reliable products while, on the other hand they also encouraged costumers to think uniquely, be original, innovative, even eccentric (obs. Apple's slogan, which is still valid today, suggests this encouragement: "Think Different"). Thus, they transmit a message, a value with which masses of customers can identify themselves. Truly huge brands have a unique personality, and they do not offer simply a product or a service to customers, but rather an experience, a feeling. Usually, people make their decisions partly on the basis of rational arguments and partly based on emotions. …

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