Brand Categories

Every marketing management student would have heard the story about origin of branding, that it was initially used to identify and isolate a particular stock of cattle in the west. From the Wild West, branding as a concept has grown and changed beyond its original purpose. Today brands have become the common tool for us to differentiate and recall various products and services.

Branding in the current times is not limited to products and services alone. In fact you will find every type of organization and business stream using brand as a tool for differentiation, recall and identity. The fact that the brand identity that includes the visual logo also comprises of and represents a particular set of characteristics, values and the core culture of the brand owner. Branding is today used for a lot many purposes other than just to offer products and services to the consumers.

Of course when we think of brands, the first category that comes to our mind is that of product and service brands. These are mostly stand alone brands that are strongly product centric. Kelloggs, Coco Cola, Lays, Johnie Walker etc, are strong product brands. The immediate recall in the consumer’s mind is that of the particular product that it represents. Xerox originally became such a very successful and strong brand that people started calling photocopier machines as Xerox machine. Even today this brand name continues to be used to refer to the photocopiers.

There are also the Line brands comprising of a exclusive set of product lines under a brand name. Take a look at the computer industry, all the different types of laptops and desktops are bundled under a particular series or a particular line brand. Dell’s Studio series meant for digital and multi- media as well as animation and graphic users and Inspira series for computing are the best examples of line brands. L’oreal studio line of products is another good example of line brands.

When experts talk about brand extension and line extensions as well as product extensions, it becomes difficult to compartmentalize each category. Take the case of diet coke. Some experts call it a brand extension, while the others feel it is a product or line extension. Ultimately, the marketing professionals who have worked out the strategy for the brand know it the best.

Range brands are the next best type of branding used especially in the retail industry. Oral B is perhaps of the best known global brands comprising of several range of products related to dental care. This concept is also used exclusively in the automotive industry too. Toyota has a series of models and cars under its Range Brand Lexus.

Umbrella branding is another highly successful methods of building different product lines under single brand image that emphasizes a standard core value proposition across the products under its brand. Nivea, Sony, Virgin are possible the most visible and successful global umbrella brands with several product lines developed under the strong brand image.

Corporate brand has been adopted as a successful branding strategy by Organizations to build their Corporate identity. Global multi-national giants like GE, Phillips, Samsung, IBM, HP, P&G, Nestle, etc have successfully built a strong corporate identity. Similarly the banks and insurance companies etc like HSBC, BOA, Citi bank, AIG, etc have are strong corporate brands that represent the organization. It is another matter that they have product brands that are equally famous and well known in their product offering. P&G and Nestle deal with various products each having their own successful product labels and brands. Similarly GE has varied business interest in different fields. The corporate GE brand is perhaps the best known identity for the organization globally.

Industry academicians and experts have listed several more types of brands that are categorized exclusively as designer labels, exclusive store or boutique brands as well as family brands etc. There are also media brands as well as e brands that are the new additions to the brand wagon. In many cases the brand categories have a thin line of boundary between them and sometimes the products can also be categorized under multiple brand categories depending upon the brand and product category etc.


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