How is the concept of congruency can be relevant to a revitalisation of brand equity strategy?

Essay by kyorusUniversity, Bachelor'sD, June 2003

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The brand value can be evaluated thanks to a survey. This survey shows notably the consumers are aware of the brand and the brand association.

This increase in attention can mainly be attributed to the fact that brands positively valued by consumers are of an enormous potential for the companies.

The main aim of this research is to deal with the impact and importance of the congruency on the brand equity.

The exploration of these effects is made by referring to the literature of brand images, brand association and brand awareness.

First, we will try to examine the meaning of the brand in the consumer memory. This part explains the consumer attribute.

Second, we'll try to identify the congruency theory illustrated by the brand MARLBOROã.

At the end, we will analyse the positive effects that have to increase of congruency on the brand equity.

For my research, I will use academic book and Internet research.

Also, I can use some lived situations of my own experience.

I.Understand the brand knowledge

1)Meaning of the Brand

It is important for a brand to have a meaning without, the risk that consumer forget the brand and thus decrease the sales and the profits of this company.

The Brand can be defined as "A distinguishing characteristic of modern marketing has been its focus upon the creation of differentiated brands...the idea has been to move beyond commodities to branded products - to reduce the primacy of price upon the purchase decision, and accentuate the bases of differentiation" (Aaker, 1991, pp. 7-8).

This definition shows the importance for a company to have a good positioning choice.

In practice, the brand position is determined usually thanks to two dimensions:

ØThe price dimension that inform to the consumer the positioning of the brand

ØThe Intrinsic dimension, ie the product class in which the brand is used(to which category need does the brand appeal), what the branded article has to offer the consumer (low price, material or immaterial differentiation) and what type of consumer the branded article is meant for (target group) BRAND MANAGEMENT RIK RIEZEBOS p55 ref 658.827 RIE

When a company choose to position it product, 3 possibilities are available: Either the low cost, or the premium or the prestige strategy.

The strategy of price positioning is important for a company because the sales and the distribution depend on the positioning of the brand.

The principle of the intrinsic positioning is different. Firstly, the company tries to position the brand in such a way that consumers distinguish the branded article from other branded article on the basis of intrinsic attributes in a positive way.

For instance a brand for cleaning product such as fairy, distinguishes its product as "sensitive skin one" for target the persons who have to preserve the hand skin.

This strategy is interesting because the company can target a segment of consumers that the competitors have not targeted yet. This strategy can be profitable for the firm and for the brand that gains a new image

Positioning choice as dependent on price and purchase motivation

PRICEHighDifferentiation:Functional instrumentalDifferentiation:Functional impressive or expressive aimed at social recognition

LowIdentification:Functional instrumentalIdentification:Functional impressive or expressive aimed at no frills




This statement shows that depending on the positioning, a brand may be distinguishable from competing brands or not. In the case of a high priced brand, differentiation should be aimed for and, identification should be the goal for a relatively low-priced brand. But the strategy to positioning is primordial because the consumer has an image of the brand which is difficult to change.

2)Brand images

Image doesn't mean obligatory picture, the visualised pictures can be characteristics of the object, or the person. But the image can refer to like an immaterial aspect, for instance the brand BUITONIã. The brand's owner is NESTLEã but the name has an Italian sound, so that the consumers can imagine that this product come from Italy (country where Marco Polo brought pasta from China). This brand association underlines that one brand association can improve the sales of the company. The content of a brand image refers to the associations a brand name may invoke.

The most difficult for a brand is not to give a image of itself, but to keep this image in the consumer's mind. Advertisements and packaging are the main keys for this task. The brand tries to give the most pleasant image to the consumers in order to increase sales.

Example of the importance of the image extracted from website

The brand image is a bonus added to the product. Elusive and immaterial it accompanies and consolidates the quality of the products, its distribution, its packaging and its price. Here at Castello, we are proud to have built up such a unique image. We have certainly never tried to create or consolidate something which is "up-to-date", "snobbish","Ã la page" Rather we consider it right, that Castello smokers get an understandable sense of gratification when they buy one of our pipes. And it's nice too to know that they have become collector's items, both because of the pleasure of smoking them and because of their beauty. Models of rare beauty, unique samples of study of form belonging to the private Castello collection.

3)Brand-added value

Brand-added value is used to express the value that a brand may have for a consumer, the brand-added value is the contribution of the brand name and its related connotations to the consumer's valuation of the branded article as a whole.

David A.Aaker, Managing Brand Equity, Free Press, 1991

According to Pierre Chandon

The featuring of the brand-added is composite:

ØPerceived performance

ØPsychological meaning

ØThe extend of brand-name awareness

The most important thing for brand-added value, is not the associations, but the relative value that the consumer considerate as important regarding each existing association. The perceived performance means that the consumers fell the quality or the difference or something that coax them into buying. This is a material brand association.

The psychological meaning from brand concerns the evaluations of immaterial association. This is an immaterial brand association

At the end, the third component, the brand-name awareness concerns the capacity for a consumer to evaluate one brand.

Perceived performance versus psychological meaning

PERCEIVED PERFORMANCEModerateSpanish carsFrench cars

HighJapanese carsGerman cars



This statement was extracted from BRAND MANAGEMENT RIK RIEZEBOS p55 ref 658.827 RIE

Explain how the French cars are considered like less powerful, however, for many consumers, the perceived performance of French cars is lower than German cars one, this idea has started to change notably thanks to the research & development of Renaultã and Peugeotã.

This is for this reason that the Brand name has been shown to be positively associated with consumer product evaluations, perceptions of quality and purchase rates (Brown &Dacin, 1997;Day &Deutscher, 1982;Dodds et al., 1991;Leclerc, et al., 1994;Rao &Monroe, 1989). This tendency may be especially apparent with difficult-to-assess 'experience ' goods ((Wernerfelt, 1988) and as the unique- ness of brand associations increases (Feinberg et al., 1992).

II.Concept of the congruency

1)Definitions of the concept

According to Kevin Lane KELLER, Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity

The congruence is defined as the extent to which a brand association shares content and meaning with another brand association. The congruence of brand associations should affect how easily an existing association can be recalled and how easily additional associations can become linked to the brand node in memory.

According to Festinger (1957) Heider (1958), Krech et al. (1982,pp.690-2), the congruency theory is similar than the Heider's cognitive balance theory that explains the relationship between two persons and an object. Except that in the congruency theory, the measuring become technique and quantitative while the cognitive theory has a qualitative character.

In other way, the congruence depends on the image of the brand, because according to these image the consumers could do brand association in their memory.

For instance when he looks at a cowboy in the Grand Canyon, he reminds the brand MARLBOROã many different knowledge elements can then lay around the brand name; the strength of the links between two nodes determines to what extent every knowledge element is associated with the brand name. This is the concept of the congruency theory.

2)Role & Importance of this concept

The role of the concept of congruency is to study and to measure the different brand association that consumers do. Thus, the Brand image of the consumer is evaluated in order to know what are the brand associations he does when he is thinking about a brand. It is important for a brand to develop congruency because this is important to keep the image of the brand in a memory of consumer.

Besides, the information on which an image is based on is not usually verified. Moreover, often the consumers already have an image of something or someone before they have been in touch with the object or subject. For understanding the importance of the congruence, it is necessary to include the conception of the brand image in the memory of the consumer.

David Ogilvy (1963,pp.99 ff) was the first to write the importance of the brand images in marketing. According to him, the important aspect of a brand image is the mental picture that consumers have of a brand or branded article.

It means, that the creation and the shaping of the brand image are important because there is an incidence on the future sales and the potential customers.

According to David A. Aaker (1991) 3 brand associations can be analysed:

Internally created brand associationInternally secondary brand associationExternally perceived brand association

The company creates the associations.The associations are created by the companyThe associations are understood by the consumers

Image direct that the company have given to consumers Creation of strength and favourability in order to create a congruent unit Image indirect from the company. Associations related the companyEg: Country origin, policy about environmentThis kind of association concerned the messages extracted of the own perception of the customers.

3)Illustration of Marlboro

Example of a mental imaginary memory network

This example shows the different brand associations that the consumer does when he is thinking about MARLBOROã. This brand association is not a coincidence; these are the marketing work of Phillip Morris Company. Indeed, mainly the packaging and the advertising have to give the consumer a good image in order to boost the sales or to keep the sales at a correct level.

In the case of MARLBOROã, the psychological dependence help the firm to keep a good level of consumer but the importance of the anti-tobacco lobby give the pressure to the different governments in order to decrease the number of smokers. It is for this reason, that in many countries, advertising is controlled by strict laws, and in some countries (France) the advertising has been forbidden (TV and radio, but allowed in magazines).

Favourability of MARLBOROã

The favourability of the MARLBOROã brand association can take onto two value: Negative or positive.

Positive, because the MARLBOROã brand association represent an image of America: typically wild landscape, young and with an idea of the "American way of life". The MARLBOROã targets a male customers, the advertising with the cowboy has for consequences to give a virile image of the brand. When the consumer smokes MARLBOROã cigarette, he believes unconsciously that the brand has attributes and benefits that satisfy his need and desires up (in the case of MARLBOROã, the freedom of the American landscape, the desire of ride in the Grand Canyon).

If we analyse the colour of the package (red and white), this colour red can represent the red American landscape (colour of Grand Canyon), this brand association may facilitate brand recognition or awareness and gives to the consumers the sensation of freedom and travel.

Negative, because the tobacco causes the cancer, and many campaigns against the tobacco has launched. This kind of advertisement can have bad consequences on the sales and the brand equity of MARLBOROã. The women are not targeted in the MARLBOROã image, and the sale increase concerns the feminine target.

Strength of MARLBOROã

The strength of MARLBOROã is it notoriety, and the brand awareness, indeed everybody, smokers or none know this brand around the world. The reputation of a MARLBOROã brand is related to the extent to which it calls up strong, positive associations. This reputation contributes to increase the value of the Brand equity. The reputation of MARLBOROã is so famous that the lobby anti-tobacco uses the image of MARLBOROã against MARLBOROã themselves. The advertisements campaign with the cowboy gives an image of dream for the European people before and during the Cold War.

But the MARLBOROã is threat by the decrease of the USA image, indeed nowadays, America make anybody dreaming anymore, and the brand can suffer from this decrease of the image of USA.

But it is not easy for a brand to change the congruence and the brand association, MARLBOROã had tried to change it image thanks to the price but it was a failure.

Example extracted to investors chronicle (1993); Feldwick

Attempt at MARLBOROã to change its image


Before 2 April 1993, the price of a packet of MARLBOROã cigarettes in America was around $2.15. The MARLBOROã price was therefore approx. 70% higher than the average price of one of the cheaper brands of cigarette (the cheapest brand cost $0.69). Before the said date in 1993, MARLBOROã had lost significant market share (from 30 % to 22%), which had had a positive effect on the cheaper brands. In the beginning of 1993, the market share of cheap brand was around 40 %. In order to halt the erosion of MARLBOROã's market share, Philip Morris decided to lower the price of a packet of MARLBOROã cigarettes by $0.40 as of 2 April 1993 (a price reduction of more than 20 %). As a consequence, on that Friday in April, the share price of Philip Morris decreased to 20 % meaning a loss in stock-market value of $13.4 billion. The price reduction of MARLBOROã eventually led to a loss in income for Phillip Morris of $2 billion. Several months after the price reduction, the market share of MARLBOROã again rose to 30%.

This example shows that the brand awareness and the notoriety are very important for the customer memory. The price share decreases only, because the price was for stock exchange trader, a proof of quality. The drop of the price decided by Philip Morris had a consequence to change the brand associations of the customers.

III Impact of the congruency in the Brand equity

1)Brand equity

Before considering how brand equity has been conceptualised and measured, it is useful firstly to define what a brand is. According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is "a name, term, sign, symbol or combination of them that is designed to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them"

The brand is the main tool, in marketing for aware the potential customers about the product.

Keller defines brand equity as a set of four categories of brand assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand 's name or symbol that add to (or subtract from) the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm 's customers:

According to David A. Aaker (1991), brand equity is "a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol, that add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or that firm's customers."

Lance Leuthesser, et al (1995) write that "... brand equity represents the value (to a consumer) of a product, above that which would result for an otherwise identical product without the brand's name. In other words, brand equity represents the degree to which a brand's name alone contributes value to the offering (again, from the perspective of the consumer)."

The Marketing Science Institute (1988) defines brand equity as, "The set of associations and behaviours on the part of the brand's customers, channel members, and parent corporations that permit the brand to earn greater volume or greater margins than it could without the brand name and that gives the brand a strong, sustainable, and differentiated advantage over competitors."

2)The interest to study the brand equity

With all definitions, it is necessary to retain that Brand equity can be defined as four distinct elements:

1.brand awareness

2.perceived quality

3.brand associations

4.brand loyalty.

It is important for a firm to have a good brand equity, because Brand equity can provide strategic advantages to your company in many ways:

Allow you to charge a price premium compared to competitors with less brand equity.

Strong brand names simplify the decision process for low-cost and non-essential products.

Brand name can give comfort to buyers unsure of their decision by reducing their perceived risk.

Maintain higher awareness of your products.

Use as leverage when introducing new products.

Often interpreted as an indicator of quality.

High brand equity makes sure your products are included in most consumers consideration set.

Your brand can be linked to a quality image that buyers want to be associated with.

Offer a strong defence against new products and new competitors.

Can lead to higher rates of product trial and repeat purchasing due to buyers' awareness of your brand, approval of its image/reputation and trust in its quality.

Brand names are company assets that must be invested in, protected and nurtured to maximize their long-term value to your company. Brands have many of the same implications as capital assets (like equipment and plant purchases) on a company's bottom line, including the ability to be bought and sold and the ability to provide strategic advantages


3)Revitalisation of the brand equity

"According to most models of consumer choice (e.g., combinatorial models of attitude formation or utility theory), consumers evaluate products on basis of the benefits they provide, weighted by the importance of these benefits. The weighting of the benefits varies across products, purchase occasions, and individuals (Eagly and Chaiken 1993; Meyer and Kahn 1991). For low-involvement, repeat-purchase products, the weights of some of these benefits may go down to zero, so that only a few benefits, the most important ones, are considered in the purchase evaluation (as in a lexicographic decision rule). For instance, Hoyer's 1984 field study of laundry detergent buyers in the US showed that a few product benefits such as product performance, price, emotional attachment, or social norms account for 81% of the (self-reported) benefits sought. Many studies have documented the varying importance of benefits sought (see Shavitt 1990; Strahilevitz and Myers 1998) but Leong's (1993) replication of Hoyer's study provides some of the clearest evidence. Leong found that, although the same list of benefits accounted for 86% of the benefits sought by Singaporean consumers, the weights of these benefits were very different from the figures reported for US buyers. Interestingly, Leong found that these weights"

Chandon, Pierre, Brian Wansink, and Gilles Laurent (2000), "A Congruency Framework of Sales

Promotion Effectiveness," Journal of Marketing, 64:4 (October), 65-81.

We can also said the benefits for the brand equity can take two shapes:

First, Financial, it means that the brand is stronger in the asset of the company accountancy an could be sold higher.

Second, improve the marketing productivity (K.L Keller), thus the company choose to positioning it brand in the market.


The importance of the congruency theory is crucial in order to understand the brand association in customer's memory.

It is important to study congruency for improving the image or setting up a marketing strategy for the brand owner company analysis.

Also, the image of congruence can be improved thanks to advertisements.

A good brand association helps to increase a company sales and its brand equity as well. This is all the importance of marketing to do a survey towards consumers about brand associations. Moreover, the companies can create an other brand association, for instance the famous beer maker Budweiser created the loud WAZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAA. This company has managed to give an other image of the brand (Fun, Young, cool).

The commercial so famous around the world has given the advantages and the opportunities to increase sales and target an other segment of customers.