Few days before, I saw this new APP of Starbucks on the Internet, and it aroused my interest.
Wake up and smell the pastry! After you download the ‘Good Morning’ APP of Starbucks, you may receive 50% discount on all breakfast items in any Starbucks store. Attractive, isn’t it? But please wait a moment; there are some rules you have to follow. The app includes an alarm clock and counter. Once a user wakes up, he or she has 60 minutes to reach a Starbucks branch and order breakfast. If they are late—-no discount.
This App is in use in China now. Considering that breakfast in Starbucks costs at least 15 RMB in China, which is much more expensive compared with Chinese traditional breakfast, this App sounds quite attractive. But, can you imagine that you will be associated with a brand almost from you wake up every day? Maybe we need to know something about brand association.
Brand associations are anything in a customer’s memory linked to a specific brand (Gladden and Funk, 2004). The ads below can show the strong brand association of McDonald.
Consumers might associate a brand with a particular attribute or feature, usage situation, product spokesperson, or logo (John et al., 2012), such as the big yellow M and the APP of Starbucks. In order to organize such strong association network, firms are suggested to obtain brand map first.
From the brand map of McDonald above, we can find that it not only identifies important brand associations but also conveys how these associations are linked to the brand and to one another. The brand map covers several key points connected directly to McDonald’s brand, i.e. ‘service’ & ‘value’, which are closely tied to brand meaning (John et al., 2012). With these key points, firms can make its brand meaning, value and targets clear, then, it will be easy for them to build strong association with customers.
Nowadays, we pay much attention to uniqueness of brands. What characteristic a certain brand has while others do not have can be the key factor in brand association. For example, Dove catches the concept of adding “one quarter moisturizing cream” into its soaps, which makes customers associate Dove with “never dry the skin”. This is what Dove wants to convey to customers, and also is its own specialty of products. Firms strengthen the relationship between the brand with a particular category, product attribute, customer benefit, or usage situation to build their brands (Farquhar and Herr, 1993).
I am unsure whether long-term brand association will directly lead to brand loyalty or not, but there are actually some researches have shown the link between brand association and brand loyalty. According to Gladden and Funk (2004)’s research on professional sport team brand, it was found that three of eight association dimensions were classified as significant predictors of brand loyalty, which including tradition, product delivery and star player. It demonstrated that in order to foster brand loyalty among sport fans, sport team should build association with customers from these three aspects. Therefore, we can believe that in other fields, firms may also use brand association as a tool to gain loyal customers.
The marketing strategy of Starbucks may be useful in making such long-term association. People may be used to having breakfast in Starbucks after some time. If they also happen to appreciate the brand and the taste, then they will be loyal to Starbucks.
Are you being tied to some certain brands now? : )
Farquhar P.H. and Herr P.M. (1993), “The Dual Structure of Brand Association”, Brand Equity and Advertising: Advertising’s Role in Building Strong Brands, pp.263-275
Gladden J.M. and Funk D.C. (2004), “Professional Sport: Examine the Link between Brand Association and Brand Loyalty”, The Business of Sports, pp.194-197
John D.R. et al. (2006), “A Methodology for Identifying Brand Association Networks”, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Nov., 2006), pp. 549-563