Research on Brand Communication Strategy Based on Consumer’s Cognition

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Research on Brand Communication Strategy Based on Consumer’s Cognition
Research on Brand Communication Strategy Based on Consumer’s
QIU Xiaodong, LIU Chang
School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, China, 100044
[email protected]
Abstract: This article examines brand communication effects from the perspective of consumer’s
cognition to find the effective brand communication strategy which has direct impact on consumers. We
extract the method of evaluating the brand communication effects on the level of consumer’s cognition,
and explore the relationship between brand communication effects and consumer’s cognition. Based on
the investigation, we further propose four effective strategies to enhance brand communication effects:
shape the excellent core value of brand; formulate the clear brand positioning; design the attractive brand
identification symbol; adopt integrated marketing communication to enhance consumer’s cognition.
Keywords: Consumer’s cognition, Brand strategy, Marketing, Brand communication strategy
1 Introduction
There were 100 companies on the 2008 global best brands list, which was jointly issued by Business Week
and International Brand Group with the minimum entry value of 3.338 billion dollars. With its brand value
of 66.667 billion dollars, Coca-Cola Company was rated as the most valuable brand for eight years. IBM
and Microsoft Company took the second and third place respectively. Over half of the list were occupied
by American companies, and the rest were taken up by companies from Japan, Germany and France. None
of the Chinese company was on the list.
With the adjustment of national industrial policy in China recently, the OEM processing industry which
once accounted for most of the Chinese export-oriented economy will be marginalized. Especially, due to
the dramatic change of the RMB change rate and the rising price of raw material in the last two years,
processing enterprises are facing unprecedented pressure. In addition, with the increasing labor costs and
the demographic spillover, it is imperative to change from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’.
Undoubtedly, brand will be a sharp weapon to win competition in the world for Chinese enterprises except
the unique design and high technology development.
Nowadays, branding is becoming one of the most important strategies for enterprises, and the business
competition will be upgraded from product to brand in the future. As a means of establishing identification
and differentiation in the hearts of consumers rapidly, brand will influence consumer buying behavior.
Also, it contributes to expanding market and improving competitiveness of enterprises. Brand
communication which builds relationship between the owner of brand and consumers is the important
factor determining brand competition, so it attracts attention of many researchers. Considering the
international and domestic environment, it has important theoretical and practical significance to study
brand communication in our country.
2 Literature Review
Consumers’ response is the indicator of brand communication effects for enterprises. Researches of
communication effect mainly embodied the elements of brand equity, including brand loyalty, brand
image, brand recognition, brand association, consumer loyalty and their mutual relationship. According to
the brand pyramid theory provided by Kevin Lane Keller, the effect of brand communication in
descending order is brand recognition, brand identification, brand image, brand loyalty and brand equity[1].
Davi Aaker (1991) considered that four factors constituted brand property in his brand property model:
brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand recognition and brand association [2]. Ning Changhui (2001) found
that effects on brand communication included the measurement of brand awareness, brand attitude, brand
acceptance, brand preference, brand trial, repeat purchasing, brand satisfaction, and brand loyalty [3]. Since
the point of disseminating information is the psychology of acceptors, Lin Zhida (2004) asserted that there
were two levels of the brand communication effect. Firstly, if acceptors changed their mind after the
dissemination of information, the first-class effect was produced. Secondly, if the changed mind
externalize to behavior which acted on society and thus caused the social change, the second-class effect
arises. If the psychological changes and the corresponding social changes are consistent with the
expectation of the communicators, it was called positive effect; otherwise it is called negative effect [4]. If
there was no change, it had no effect. Jiang Qian (2008) analyzed the communication effect of Heng
Yuanxiang advertisement according to the dissemination effect ladder model proposed by Ravitch and
Steiner. Jiang found that communication effect included three aspects: cognition, attitude and behavior. As
a communication means, we can investigate advertisement from the three aspects.
In recent years, researches on brand communication in China mainly focus on brand communication
method, channel and strategy from different perspectives. Liu Xiaoying (2008) proposed brand
communication process based on enterprise culture and asserted that enterprise culture would influence
brand communication concept, behavior and effect [5]. In the article ‘Leveraging on symbolic values and
meanings in branding’, Thomas Tan Tsu Wee et al. considered that the brand meaning designed by
enterprises had become part of consumers’ lives. Due to the brand meaning create a lasting relationship
with consumers; brand communication should take brand meaning as the fundamental starting point [6].
3 The Selection of Indicators
3.1 Brand attention rate
Brand attention rate means the degree of brand information is noticed. Brand attention rate has a positive
relationship with the brand communication effect. Brand attention rate is influenced by different factors,
such as the medium of information dissemination, the media habits of target audience and the feature of
information. Since its rich audio-visual image, high fidelity and bright colors, television media is
impressed and easy to remember. Hence, the rate of television media is the highest [7]. However, brand
attention rate is different at different times and television station. In the process of choosing
communication media, enterprise should make specific analysis according to the feature of products and
consumers. The calculation formula of brand attention rate is shown below.
Brand attention rate=the amount of people who pay attention to the information/the total amount of
information displayed
For instance, the total amount of information displayed in newspapers is the number of people reading
3.2 Brand awareness
As a basic indicator to measure brand cognition, brand awareness is the amount of people who knows the
brand or the proportion of people who knows the brand accounting for the total consumers. For instance,
the JiuLi marketing consulting company’s survey report indicates that: Colgate, Sanxiao and Crest have a
higher degree of brand awareness in the Beijing toothbrush market, the proportion of them respectively
are 70%, 40% and 23.4%; the proportion of Oral-B is 16%; the degree of other brands are relatively low,
less than 10% [8]. In addition, brand awareness is related to consumers’ age and gender. In this article
brand awareness is defined as the proportion of people who knows the brand accounting for the total
consumers. Brand awareness can be calculated by the formula below.
Brand awareness= the amount of people who knows the brand/ the total amount of consumers surveyed
Or rather, brand awareness= the amount of people who knows the brand (or proportion) × the deepness of
brand awareness
The amount of people who knows the brand in a specific market is acquired by cluster sampling. We
define the deepness of brand awareness as the extent of consumers know the brand content, including
brand feature, brand benefit, brand value, brand culture, brand character and brand audience. The
questionnaires are designed according to the above-mentioned six aspects and obtain the result scores by a
certain standard as followings.
Table 1 Standard of calculating the scores of the deepness of brand awareness
Maximum score
Perceived brand benefit
Perceived brand feature
Brand audience awareness
Brand value awareness
Brand culture awareness
Brand character awareness
Total scores of deepness of brand awareness
3.3 Brand memory
Brand memory is the proportion of brand information remembered by consumers. It can influence
consumers’ purchasing decisions. Brand memory includes two parts: the deepness of brand memory is the
probability of brand remembered by consumers; the span of brand memory is the time and frequency of
brand appearing in consumers’ memory. Brand memory can be calculated by the formula below.
Brand memory= the probability of brand remembered×the speed of brand remembered
The probability of brand remembered can be investigated by word association. For instance, if consumers
are asked to list the air condition brands they can remember in a limited time when giving the word ‘air
condition’, the probability of a brand remembered of a certain brand is calculated as the frequency of this
brand in the lists. Also, the speed of brand remembered can be measured by the sequence of brands
remembered; with brands remembered earlier have higher scores.
3.4 Brand identification
Brand identification is the probability and speed of brand identified on the condition of brand name cannot
be seen or hard to be seen [9]. Brand identification can be investigated by Thematic Apperception Test.
That is, consumers need to answer what brand they can see in the cartoon taken combined the surveyed
brand product and relevant real-life scenarios, so we can measure brand identification from their answers.
Brand identification is the identity of elements except brand name, including brand symbol and package.
Hence, the key factor to enhance brand identification is improving the identity of brand symbol and
package. The degree of brand cognition can be measured by the above-mentioned three indicators:
The degree of brand cognition= brand awareness ×brand memory ×brand identification
3.5 Brand reputation
As an important component of shaping modern enterprise image, brand reputation is the consumers’ trust
and favor to a certain brand. To some extent, brand awareness is part of brand reputation. According to
previous researches, it’s unlikely for brands to achieve their success with only brand awareness rather than
brand reputation.
Brand reputation=the amount of people who praise the brand /the total amount of people who know the
Figure 1 Brand reputation and brand awareness
3.6 Word-of-mouth communication rate
Word-of-mouth communication rate is the times consumers recommend brand to others. If the rate of
word-of-mouth communication is high, the brand will be spread and diffused faster.
4 Brand Communication Effects of Different Communication Ways
4.1 Advertisement
According to the advertisement’s definition of the American Marketing Association, advertisement has
three characteristics, including specific advertisers, pay and non-person communication. As a non-person
communication way, advertisement should be implemented by a certain media or carrier, such as
newspapers, television, broadcast, magazines, outdoors advertisement and internet. Due to the different
features and communication effect of different carriers, the appropriate media-mix should be chosen
based on the practical situation.
Table 2 Advantage and disadvantage of different media
Low copy quality, difficult to
Flexible, wide coverage, widely accepted, trustworthy
save, less circulated
Integrated visual and audio, infectious, interested, wide
High cost, disturbance, short
residence time, less selection
Only sound, non-standardized
Popularization, geography and population selection, low cost
charges, short residence time
geography and population selection, trustworthy,
Some issue is useless and layout
authoritative, high replication rate, easy to save, wide
cannot be guaranteed
Lack of innovation, audience
Flexible, long show time, low cost, less competition
have no choice
Difficult to evaluate effect,
High-tech, vivid mode, interactive, low cost, no time
limited advertisement space and
restrictions, informative, two-way communications, flexible
billing, easy to search, direct feedback
4.2 Public relations
As a means of organizational communication, public relations receive more attention in recent years.
Comparing with the advertisement, public relations have low cost, more influence and are believed more
trustworthy. Public relations have two forms. First, it is sponsorship and supportive social activities. The
purpose of sponsorship is to produce and maintain brand cognition. Second, news propaganda is
trustworthy for consumers. In terms of enterprises, it is necessary to maintain good relations with various
media and present corporate news materials to the media timely. Therefore, these measures can enhance
the brand awareness and reputation in consumers especially those advertisements cannot contact.
4.3 Interpersonal communication
Interpersonal communication is the direct communication to deliver information between people,
including face to face, telephone, message, letters and internet. Among them, word-of-mouth
communication is the common form in interpersonal communication, for it has the advantage of wide
acceptance, interactivity, feedback and reliability. In a survey of cosmetics, the proportion of buying
cosmetics recommended by family or friends is 63%; the credibility of word-of-mouth is 18 times the
advertisement. American car sales champion George Girard once said that a real consumer can bring 250
potential consumers. Particularly, word-of-mouth communication has both advantage and disadvantage.
Positive word-of-mouth communication will enhance the brand awareness and reputation. While,
negative word-of-mouth communication will be harmful for brand and enterprise. Hence, it is necessary
for enterprise to dispose the unfavorable brand information timely.
5 Brand Communication Strategies
Consumers accept only the brands they approve, and the awareness of brand information can influence
their brand choice. Therefore, enterprise should develop their brand communication strategy considering
both marketing purpose and the possible reactions of consumers. An effective brand communication
should be based on continual information that can be recognized by consumers. Therefore, providing
effective brand information according with consumers’ cognition is the key factor to promote brand
communication effects. By analyzing the international and domestic experience of enhancing brand
communication effects based on consumer’s cognition, we propose four effective strategies to increase
consumers’ cognition and enhance brand communication.
5.1 Shape the excellent core value of brand
As an important component of brand equity, brand core value is the most important consumers’
association of brand attributes and benefits, including 3~5 important brand exclusive characteristics
which can be thought first by consumers. Brand core value is the main driving force to attract consumers
to support corporate’s brand, so corporate should first shape brand core value in the process of brand
5.2 Formulate the clear brand positioning
The focus of brand positioning is having an insight into consumers’ psychology and needs. In addition, the
essence of brand positioning is differentiation and the key is seizing consumers’ heart. The differentiation
should include not only quality, price, technology, packaging and after-sales service, but also belief and
value which can bring consumers more psychological satisfaction rather than product itself. Hence, it is
the first requirement that corporate should select the accurate target consumers. Then, in the process of
brand information communication, corporate may convert from the original ‘broadcast’ to ‘narrowcast’ in
order to acquire a better communication effect, that is disseminating more targeted information in a
smaller range.
5.3 Design the attractive brand identification symbol
Consumers’ first pursuit is not useful value but symbol value when choosing brands. As is well-known,
the 21st century is the time for attention economy times, in which attention is considered scarce resources.
An attractive brand identification symbol should be designed to catch the consumers’ attention from a
great deal of information and impressed them.
5.4 Adopt integrated marketing communication to enhance consumer’s cognition
The core idea of integrated marketing communication is integrating all company’s internal and external
resources, reconstructing productive and marketing behavior, in order to mobilize all positive factors to
achieve company’s unified objective. According to the theory of integrated marketing communication,
corporate should pay attention to two issues when sending message to consumers. First, it is necessary to
send clear and consistent information all the time no matter corporate take which kinds of media[10].
Second, it will be effective to take comprehensive contact point management, namely managing all the
points which could contact with consumers. Comprehensive contact point management includes not only
corporate brand, marketing mix and service, but also facilities and internal employees. In the process of
brand communication, brand identification content should be matched with the corresponding brand
contact point, so consumers could feel the distinct and consistent core brand connotation when accepting
relevant brand information. The essence of comprehensive contact point management is to establish rich
brand association and unique brand characteristics in consumers’ mind thus enhance the efficiency of
brand communication and reduce the cost of brand building.
6 Conclusion and Future Researches
This article proposes four effective strategies to enhance brand communication from the consumer’s
cognition perspective. We summarize our main conclusions as followings.
First, we further define the related concepts such as brand communication, brand communication effects
and consumer’s cognition. Second, this research proposes the significance of studying brand
communication effects from the perspective of consumer’s cognition. We systematically explore the
relevant content of consumer’s cognition and assume that consumers can take initiative to accept and
process information rather than accept information passively. Third, we extract the indicators of
measuring brand communication effects based on consumers’ cognition, such as brand attention rate,
brand awareness and brand memory. We further analyze the method of measurement. Fourth, we propose
effective strategies to enhance brand communication and provide references for enterprise.
Considering consumer’s cognition is still a relatively new study field, more studies are needed to build a
more reliable theoretical framework about consumer’s cognition, and relevant concepts and connotations
need to be defined and studied. Although we have proposed a measurement of brand communication
effects based on consumer’s cognition, the reliability and validity of the measurement is not yet be
demonstrated by empirical research.
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