The paper refers to the issue of brand creation by participating in the “Polish Product” contest. The theoretical part of the article discusses basic objectives and principles of creating a brand offered by a company as a factor of its development through enhanced market competitiveness. One of the ways to influence the company image and its brand is to participate in competitions promoting the values of the offer. The “Polish Product” contest belongs to them. The empirical part, on the other hand, discusses in a synthetic way the results of research carried out among the entrepreneurs who took part in the “Polish Product” competition. The research referred to the reasons for taking part in the “Polish Product” program, the benefits of joining the program, the entrepreneurs’ opinions on whether the “Polish Product” program is forward-looking and whether involvement in activities creating the company’s brand and image, such as participation in the “Polish Product” program, is a factor of entrepreneurship development. Apart from its cognitive, both theoretical and empirical values, the paper is also of implementation nature as it may serve as an example of solutions whose aim is to create a brand in contemporary circumstances pertaining entrepreneurship, in which new forms of consumer behaviour appear including those based on the preference for products from a particular country.
The aim of the paper is to characterize one of the important factors in the development of entrepreneurship namely the creation of brand image. The first part of the article provides a general analysis of the brand, its importance in entrepreneurship and ways of creating it. In the light of these theoretical considerations, the basic subject of the paper is introduced i.e. the empirical analysis of image creation through participation in the “Polish Product” program.
General principles and objectives of brand creation
When characterizing the marketing function of the “brand”, P.Kotler has said that the brand performs a strategic function for the company. Creating a brand, in a situation of awareness of its importance for the company, requires an analysis of brand assets, assessment of the forces that will shape the development of the brand in the future and an analysis of the added value of the brand. This approach helps to determine optimal positioning that will give the brand a lasting competitive edge. As a strategic tool, the brand requires a significant contribution of analyses and marketing planning[ii].
The term “brand” can be characterized by a holistic definition according to which a brand is a combination of a physical product, a name, packaging, advertising and accompanying distribution activities and price. The combination of these elements, as factors for creating a brand, is meant to distinguish the product or the offer of the company from the competitive offers. The brand provides the consumer with distinctive functional and usually symbolic benefits, thus creating a loyal circle of buyers and leading to market position[iii]. This assumption implies four brand levels:
- the generic level, which consists of the basic functional benefit of the product. The generic brand level is an intrinsic component of each brand within a product and therefore rarely provides the basis for brand differentiation.;
- the expected level, which includes minimum requirements called ”social minimum functionality”, a target segment of buyers for a specific product category. They are made up of basic functionalities, packaging, features, functionality, dimensions, performance, availability, the price etc. The expected level plays a special role in situations where the buyer has little purchasing experience within a particular product category. Also, in the early stages of market development, when it is unlikely that several brands are perceived by buyers as equally satisfying their expectations. Competition can take place at the expected level. The added value in this respect is generally derived from the functional characteristics of the brand, namely it answers the question of what the brand gives the customer;
- the extended level, as consumers’ requirements and experience grow in terms of their confidence when shopping, their willingness to experiment or search for the best value, and their attention to pricing, the brand must be “extended” in a more sophisticated way to meet both functional and emotional needs. At the extended level, several brands can be seen as equally satisfying the buyer’s expectations, and then consumers begin to focus on the factors that distinguish them, whether functional or symbolic;
- the potential level, which is related to the fact that at a certain stage of market development, consumers begin to treat any brand extensions as a standard requirement, as a result of competitors imitating distinctive brands. This poses a threat to the return of competition to the expected level, where consumers are more interested in the price. There is therefore a need to add a new value to the brand to reach the potential level. The only limitation to this expansion lies in the creativity of marketing activities[iv].
Apart from these functional brand features, the brand can also feature variables such as the frequency of the use of a specific product, the end user or the target group, as well as the position of the product in relation to its competitors, for example in terms of identifying the distinguishing features of a product compared to those offered by a competitor. Attributes added in this way must be valid and desired by the target group. Brand customization to the requirements of specific market segments enhances buyer satisfaction and maximizes profits[v]. In addition, attention should be paid to the fact that taking care of the elements of the so-called extended and potential product is the most effective strategy for competing on the market[vi].
The practical aspect of brand creation also refers to the fact that the brand enables the manufacturer to segment the market. By aiming at satisfying consumers’ expectations more effectively than the competitor, an entrepreneur can provide their desired combination of product features, both tangible and also so-called elusive, practical and symbolic, visible and invisible. Through the use of brands, the manufacturer can offer different consumer segments various offers, i.e. brands that are optimally adapted to their specific needs. The brand in this case determines what the product is, what attributes are embodied in the product, what benefits it provides to users.
In the context of market innovation, which is an important factor to entrepreneurship, the brand protects the innovative producer from imitators. Brand differentiation built by the producer in the long term guarantees them greater benefits than short-term profits from the innovation they have. In general, using brands is a way to protect innovators. The brand explains the meaning and the essence of the offer, why the product exists, where it comes from and where it goes. The brand can only be given such importance through long-term consistency. In this sense, the brand is a kind of contract. By consistently offering certain functional and symbolic benefits, a brand becomes, over time, a commitment on the part of an entrepreneur offering a product under a particular brand. This guarantee is an important factor in building buyer loyalty[vii]. The function of the brand involves promising the expected performance, outcomes, results. The brand shapes consumer loyalty because it gives consumers what they expected[viii].
The brand also plays an important role in the decision-making process of consumers. It is possible to say that the decision-making process is simplified by the brand because the brand allows the purchaser to sort out a lot of information about the company’s offer and competitors taken into account at the time of purchase[ix]. Furthermore, by looking at the brand from the consumer’s perspective, the brand significantly enriches the consumer experience, i.e. the brand satisfies far deeper needs than just functional one[x].
When analysing the process of creating a brand and its significance, the symbolic function of the brand, which results from the social dimension of consumption, should be emphasised. The symbolic function is particularly visible in common consumption rituals, for example those relating to various stimulants, but above all to the consumption of superior goods, where the choice of a particular brand is one of the most obvious social signs of conformism or its absence. The chosen brand allows certain groups to emphasise their distinctiveness and place in the society[xi]. Another function of the brand can also be seen here, namely the distinguishing function. It is particularly important in markets characterised by high standardisation, then the entrepreneur, caring for the brand to be widely known, creates its specific “personality”, which becomes an important aspect of distinguishing the brand from its competitors[xii]. From the consumer’s perspective, referring to T.Veblen’s mechanism, a brand product is also a factor in gaining social prestige through consumer behaviour[xiii].
To sum up, the image is created as a synthesis of all signals transmitted by the brand, i.e. the brand name, graphic signs, products, advertising, sponsorship, etc. It is a result of decoding, extracting by the consumer the meaning of these signals, their interpretation, describes the way in which specific recipients imagine the brand[xiv]. Therefore, such a brand identity denotes a vision of potential perception of the brand by the consumer, the desired way of perceiving it, created by the provider of a given brand product or offer. This identity can be defined as some kind of comprehensive message about the brand sent by the seller to potential recipients through all marketing tools[xv]. A brand image is a consequence and an effect of its reception, an image of identity in consumer awareness[xvi].
An important feature of the brand is its life cycle which is different from that of a product as the product is actually not the same as the brand[xvii]. The life cycle of a brand is often linked to the life cycle of the company. However, in the examples of individual brands, it is easy to see how the longevity of a brand is accompanied by repeated changes in the product versions marked with it. Products become even better, even more beautiful, even more economical, even safer, etc., but their business card is still a well-established brand[xviii]. As long as the brand provides consumers with the desired utility, economic, psychosocial or legal benefits compared to the offer of competitors, it is difficult to talk about symptoms and arguments for its decline. In practice, the determinants of brand loyalty are sometimes very diverse and depend to a large extent on efficient marketing, and more specifically on what values the company provides and whether and to what extent it can convince consumers of them. Users are generally less inclined to buy new brands rather than to buy something well known and trustworthy[xix].
The developed brand image is often characterised by high durability. This property is an important benefit for the brand manufacturer. The relative durability of this image is explained by the fact that people become attached to their views and do not easily change them. Deep conviction is sometimes the reason for selective acceptance of information forming the brand image. This can result in the acceptance of messages and arguments that reinforce the views held and the rejection of what goes against them. Thus, once formed, the brand image begins to live its own life to some extent, whose cycle differs from the life cycle of individual branded products[xx].
Brand creating by participating in the “Polish Product” competition – empirical analysis
After a general introduction of what a brand is and how it is created, as well as the characteristics of its functions and its role as a determinant of the company’s development, it is worth looking at specific actions for creating a brand and an image. As presented in the above theoretical part, the use of marketing tools, including promotional ones, is a specific way of doing this. One of the possible promotional instruments involves participation in contests for certification or trademarks. Therefore, it is worthwhile to look at the results of the research on the process and consequences of brand image creation on the example of companies participating in the “Polish Product” program.
From a theoretical perspective, the survey was carried out on the brand aiming to get to know what a product brand and the company’s image are in general and whether it is worthwhile to work for the creation of a brand. Nevertheless, the survey referred to the perception of “the Polish Product” as a way of creating a brand and a company image. The research has focused on:
- reasons for encouraging entrepreneurs to take part in the “Polish Product” program,
- analysis of the benefits of joining the “Polish Product,
- opinions of entrepreneurs on whether the “Polish Product” program is future-oriented;
- opinions on whether engaging in activities that create the company’s brand and image, such as participation in the “Polish Product” programme is a factor in the development of entrepreneurship[xxi].
The general characteristics of the “Polish Product” program indicate that as of January 1, 2017 producers who produce agricultural and food products may mark their goods with an appropriate graphic sign called “Polish Product”. This constitutes information addressed to consumers about the origin of the product from Poland and creates the image of a product with significant quality values, and above all, the product brand is to be associated with actions promoting Poland. Therefore, in a broader context, creating the company’s image by means of participation in the “Polish Product” programme refers both to the issues of corporate social responsibility and economic patriotism. A bidder may mark its goods with the “Polish Product” logo if the product was made on the territory of Poland and in 75% was made from products originating from Poland[xxii]. The use of this logo by entrepreneurs is voluntary. Entrepreneurs do not have to apply for certification of their products, they only declare to meet the requirements of the Act and may use the “Polish Product” logo on their own responsibility. In case of improper use of the logo, the company may be punished with a penalty amounting to even 10% of its own income. This audit is carried out by the Agricultural and Food Products Commercial Quality Inspection[xxiii].
The first issue addressed in the research was related to the question of how is the image of the company understood by the entrepreneurs participating in the research? Well, the set of beliefs about the company and its reputation constitute the most important associations with the image issue in the light of the results obtained. In the opinion of 40% of the respondents, it is also the presentation of the company’s values. Less frequently the company’s image has been identified as its identity or personality.
Referring specifically to the “Polish Product” programme, the issue examined regarded the motivation to take part in it.
According to the chart above, companies join the “Polish Product” programme because they want to improve the image of a product or a company (97% of the entities), as well as to win new customers (88%) or boost profits (90%). Less frequently, entering the programme intended making the product stand out in the market (35%). However, the promotion of Polish goods was of marginal importance (4%).
In the opinion of the survey participants, the “Polish Product” programme is not regarded as exclusive, for the chosen ones. Rather, it has an open nature and none of the companies joining the “Polish Product” programme had any difficulties in participating in it. Respondents have agreed that thanks to the lack of certification, the process is simple if the requirements are not exorbitant.
The key issue in the research was whether participation in the “Polish Product” programme is an important factor in image creation and if in the economic perspective it can be treated as a source of financial benefits.
The surveyed companies, according to the research, gained a lot in image or financial terms by joining the “Polish Product” programme. According to the majority of the survey participants, their business entities won many new customers (92% ), which translated into improved brand recognition (90%) and increased sales (88%). Furthermore, among some of the companies surveyed, the range of advertising campaigns increased (33%), and it also helped to build brand awareness (21%).
Finally, the subject of the research concerned the perception of respondents with regard to the future of the ‘Polish Product’ programme.
Figure 4: Future of the “Polish Product” programme according to the respondents, N=42
The results of the research indicate a positive perception of the programme by entrepreneurs. As seen above, only representatives of the three surveyed companies have concluded that the “Polish Product” programme is not future-oriented, since even foreign companies manufacturing in Poland can join the programme and mark their products with the “Polish Product” logo. Nevertheless, this requirement will not be changed, as it would then violate European Union law on the free movement of goods. However, in the light of the statements made by respondents from the other companies surveyed, the ‘Polish Product’ programme is forward-looking, and the programme’s development prospects are good, because the programme promotes Polish products and enterprises and allows Polish products to reach a greater number of consumers. It also enhances consumer awareness of the origin of products and makes it possible to compete and limit imports to Poland of goods from other European Union countries and China.
With regard to the results of the research, the “Polish Product” programme should be positively evaluated as a tool of creating the company’s brand and image, as well as a factor of entrepreneurship development. The “Polish Product” programme can therefore be considered an interesting proposal for promoting the brand while its principles can also be implemented in other countries.
(A cura di Robert Majkut[i]– si ringrazia Jolanta Grebowiec-Baffoni)
[i] Robert Majkut, Ph.D., WSB University in Wrocław.
[ii] Kotler P. (2005), Marketing, Warszawa, Rebis Dom Wydawniczy, p. 213.
[iii]Altkorn J . (ed.), (2003), Podstawy marketingu, Kraków, Instytut Marketingu, p. 235.
[iv] Kall J. (2001), Silna marka. Istota i kreowanie, Warszawa, PWE, p. 16.
[v] Kall J. (2001), Silna marka. Istota i kreowanie, Warszawa, PWE, p. 16.
[vi] Mruk H. (ed.), (2008), Nowoczesne sposoby konkurowania w biznesie, Poznań, AE w Poznaniu, p. 220.
[vii] Mruk H. – Rutkowski I. (2001), Strategia produktu, PWE, Warszawa 2001, p. 43.
[viii]Payne A. (1996), Marketing usług, Warszawa, PWE, p. 23.
[ix] Zboralski M. (2001), Nomen Omen, czyli jak nazwać firmę i produkt, Warszawa, PWN, p. 32.
[x] Amber T., Marketing od A do Z, PSB, Kraków 2000, p. 341.
[xi] Kotler P., Marketing, Rebis Dom Wydawniczy, Warszawa 2005, p. 291.
[xii] Kotler P., Marketing, Rebis Dom Wydawniczy, Warszawa 2005, p. 291.
[xiii] See more e.g. Majkut R. (2005), O socjologicznej krytyce racjonalności ekonomicznej, in Żuk P. (ed.) Dogmatyzm, rozum, emancypacja, Warszawa, Wydawnictwo Scholar.
[xiv]Zboralski M. (2001), Nomen Omen, czyli jak nazwać firmę i produkt, Warszawa, PWN, p. 35.
[xv] Zboralski M. (2001), Nomen Omen, czyli jak nazwać firmę i produkt, Warszawa, PWN, p. 91.
[xvi] Mruk H. – Rutkowski I. (2001), Strategia produktu, Warszawa, PWE, p. 127.
[xvii] Mruk H. (ed.), (2008) Nowoczesne sposoby konkurowania w biznesie, Poznań, AE w Poznaniu, p. 15.
[xviii] Witek-Hajduk M. K. (2001), Zarządzanie silną marką, Warszawa, Wolter Kluwer, p. 83.
[xix] Witek-Hajduk M. K. (2001), Zarządzanie silną marką, Warszawa, Wolter Kluwer, p. 84.
[xx] Witek-Hajduk M. K. (2001), Zarządzanie silną marką, Warszawa, Wolter Kluwer, p. 85.
[xxi] The survey results, whose part is presented in the article, were carried out as part of seminar classes at WSB University using the CAWI questionnaire on a sample of 42 companies participating in the “Polish Product” programme. The sample was dominated by microenterprises (18 entities, 43%), followed by small (12, 29%), medium (9, 21%) and large (3, 7%) enterprises. Half of the surveyed market entities have been operating for over 11 years, 38% for 4 to 10 years, whereas 12% were young entities that have been operating for no longer than 3 years. The vast majority of companies (95%) were located in cities: medium (41%), large (33%) or small ones (21%). 5% of the surveyed companies were located in villages. The respondents included primarily company owners or, in the case of large entities, persons selected by them from the PR department.
[xxii] In accordance with the Law, any product that meets the above standards may be marked “Polish Product”. This also applies to foreign corporations whose factories are located within the territory of the Republic of Poland. However, this programme does not cover Polish companies which need imported raw material as the main component of their production. The legislator has also referred to producers of meat and meat products. So that they can label their goods, they have to confirm that the meat was obtained from animals that were born in Poland, bred and killed here. The ‘Polish Product’ logo was presented in the Ordinance of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of 16 December 2016 on the design of a graphic logo containing the information “Polish Product”.
Rivista scientifica digitale mensile (e-magazine) pubblicata in Legnano dal 2013 – Direttore: Claudio Melillo – Direttore Responsabile: Serena Giglio – Coordinatore: Pierpaolo Grignani – Responsabile di Redazione: Marco Schiariti
a cura del Centro Studi di Economia e Diritto – Ce.S.E.D. Via Padova, 5 – 20025 Legnano (MI) – C.F. 92044830153 – ISSN 2282-3964 Testata registrata presso il Tribunale di Milano al n. 92 del 26 marzo 2013
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