Branding plays a key role in marketing strategy. An effective branding strategy can increase brand recognition and consumer trust and ultimately, achieve increased and repetitive purchases. However, to build brand familiarity requires persistence and a strategy that includes a variety of marketing tools intended to enhance brand recognition.
A strong brand fuels consumer expectations that need to be satisfied. Consumer expectations are, directly or indirectly, associated to: a) past buying experience; b) brand associations; c) individual beliefs about the organization; d) the organization’s marketing and promotional strategies; e) the competitors’ positioning; f) word of mouth advertising, and g) price. It is interesting how price is the last factor that consumers consider as significant when entering into a purchase decision. This is because consumers primarily hope to meet their expectations as a result of being familiar to a brand and trusting it as reliable and strong.
Brand familiarity is the most elementary form of consumer knowledge because it explains the awareness consumers have of a particular brand. Awareness means that consumers have established in their minds a particular image about a particular brand and when they think of a particular product or a service they automatically relate the product to this brand. For instance, McDonalds is a globally appreciated brand and consumers around the globe relate McDonalds with a well-known, familiar taste of burgers. Therefore, they prefer to taste McDonalds over an unknown burger chain as they prefer Pay-Pal for online payment services or Starbucks for coffee.
Although achieving brand familiarity seems straightforward, it is not. The study of consumer behavior has shown that the consumer’s demographic profile, physiological stimuli, social profile and psychological profile are the factors that finally determine a purchasing decision. This means that individual perceptions about a brand and consumer cognitions determine purchase behavior. And although consumers are influenced by the views and opinions of other people as well as advertising and media news, the final purchase decision is based on their individual beliefs about a particular brand. To establish brand familiarity in the minds of consumers a firm needs to implement effective marketing and branding strategies. This is the only way to convey the right brand message to consumers at the right time.
The main factor that marketing managers need to consider is that consumers do not attach to brands logically, but emotionally. This means that purchase decision making is rather cognitive than rational and encompasses impulsive buying rather than rational purchasing. Therefore, to achieve brand familiarity it takes more than a strong brand name. Strong brands needs to have a strong brand image, cultivate strong brand awareness and a series of associations linked to them to convince consumers that they are high quality, reliable brands. Then, by building brand familiarity they can control purchase behavior to a certain extent.