Does the innovation of Social media now mean that your Brand is potentially what the world’s perception is of you?
Is social media now an essential extension to a brand’s product range? Fitness industry brands in particular, have used social media as a platform, seizing the opportunity to enhance brand association through outlets such as facebook and instagram. Is social media powerful as a means to enhance brand association?
First of all…What are brand associations?… and how do we form them?
Brand associations are the thoughts, feelings and images that a brand evokes in the consumer’s mind. These associations have a direct impact on brand value, influencing consumer behaviour and ultimately their purchases (Morley, 2016, pp 97).
How brand associations are formed… a bit of theory..
Brand associations are formed via the Brand Association Hierarchy (MMG, 2000, pp. 32-32).
- Laying association foundations through a brands’ product’s/service’s attributes
- Building through its benefits
- Eventually forming attitudes.
“Brand associations can be formed from two main sources – direct experience, (such as brand trial or usage) and indirect exposure, like advertising or word-of-mouth (Krishnan 1996). Brand associations formed through direct experience tend to be stronger and more stable over time than those formed from indirect sources (Fazio and Zanna 1981; Smith and Swinyard 1983)” (Bogomolva et al, 2007).
So..the consumer would first evaluate a brands’ more tangible attributes. There are two methods by which they do this:
- Directly – learnt by personal experience; product performance, quality, price, or appearance.
- Indirectly – learnt through recommendations, reviews, advertisements, etc.
Once the consumer has valued these attributes their associations move to a new level, and the consumer builds a more intangible connection through personal benefit analysis.
- Directly – through exposure to personal benefits: “This product is easy to use”.
- Indirectly – the benefits to the consumer are more symbolic and take shape of an underlying need for social approval or personal expression. “By wearing this brand I will fit in with a certain group of friends.” This is where trust is formed and brand loyalty starts to ingrain.
At the top of the brand value hierarchy we find the extent to which the customer feels the personal connection to the brand. This is the most powerful aspect and “critical to brand choice” (Morley, 2016, pp 97). This is difficult for a brand to instil but even more difficult for competitors to imitate. It involves linking to the consumer’s lifestyle and aspirations (Morley, 2016, pp 97).
Brand association and social media?
Social media is evolving as a key platform as it enables brand association through both direct and indirect exposure. It allows a two-way engagement between brands and customers. It encompasses the critical aspect of personal connection to a brand through humanising their brand.
The increase in fitness related content on social media is more and more, people are sharing workouts, recipes and even photographs. Lucy Hitz provided an insight into the engagement strategies used by fitness brands in social media in her 2014 and 2016 blogs. Hitz (2014), found brands were successful with different engagement techniques such motivational quotes, building communities, aspirational content. The concurrent theme – all develop personal connection to the brand.
So, Social media seems to have found a way to endorse the personal connection to a brand – the most critical aspect of brand choice.
…But how do we see success?
Spending on social media is continuing to soar but measuring its impact remains a challenge for most companies. From the CMO Survey investigating the impact of social media on their business, only 15% of marketers reported that they have been able to prove the impact quantitatively Forbes (2015). What we do know is that social media is powerful in brand association, building trust and a positive association between your brand and your audience. But do the number of followers in that audience correspond to figures in profit? (Hitz, 2014).
Student I.D 216173692
Ross, B. & Gorman, S. 2015, Measuring The Impact of Social Media On Your Business, Forbes, retrieved 18 April 2016, <http://www.forbes.com/sites/christinemoorman/2015/01/18/measuring-the-impact-of-social-media-on-your-business/#7212ee7746e5>
Hitz, L. 2016, 7 Instagram Strategies Top Fitness Brands Are Using in 2016, Simply Measured, retrieved 18 April 2016, <http://simplymeasured.com/blog/7-instagram-strategies-top-fitness-brands-are-using-in-2016/#sm.001evzsb4137yeo3pzz1hb1qknavd>
Hitz, L. 2014,10 Fitness Brands Winning Social Media Right Now, Simply Measured, retrieved 18 April 2016, <http://simplymeasured.com/blog/10-fitness-brands-winning-social-media-right-now/#sm.001evzsb4137yeo3pzz1hb1qknavd>
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