Brand Management Marketing 325 Assignment #2 By: Elizabeth Kulin June 2009 Mental map Analysis: (why choose words)
Gecko – This character used in multiple advertisement mediums and is easily associated to the brand by its close relation in sound (its name) to the company name.
Car Insurance – This meaning-type association is category descriptive of the brands core service offering. Though brand awareness tactics, consumers are able to remember the name Geico when shopping for car insurance. Which helps to increase Geico’s chances of acquiring new customers.
Advertisement–Geico has saturated the TV, Print, and outside marketing communication medias. This has increased its ability to be recognized and associate as a car insurance provider.
Fun –This is a response-type associated to the brand that has been created through commercials that portray elements of fun, lighthearted, and modern brand. Ironically, car insurance is not a fun or lighthearted scenario. On the contrary, it is a necessary coverage that members hope to never utilize. The fact that Geico has created this image association (at least in my mind) is an example of strategically created brand equity.
The objectives of brand building is to communicate the value that it brings to consumers, and by doing so, to increase the chance that the brand name will come to consumers minds during purchasing decisions. Brand awareness enables the consumer to know and recognize a brand. The consumer formed opinion is the brand’s brand image. The combination of brand awareness and brand image is a company’ brand equity. Brand awareness and brand image can be strategically created and improved, through various marketing tactics, in efforts to build and strengthen a company’s brand equity. By executing the tactics, marketers can enjoy beneficial outcomes that strengthen their position in the market place. Geico attempts to strengthen their brand equity by growing brand awareness. To increase their audience reach and marketing communication effectiveness, Geico uses multiple marketing communication channels, such as direct marketing and predominantly paid advertising via TV, print and outdoor to saturate the consumer market. As Wall Street Journal stated, “Advertising is paramount. So Geico went into high gear. For years, it had relied on stodgy direct mail to woo customers. But the new tactics called for hitting television, radio and billboards, from all directions. Its ad spending soared about 40 percent in 2005, according to TNS.” (Publusher:Pittsburg Post – Gazette;Suzanne Vranica, The Wall Street Journal, January 2nd, 2007). The focus on paid advertisement is a mass marketing strategy that enables Geico to reach a large volume of consumers market. Once reaching consumers through one medium of advertisement, Geico attempts to increase consumer’s memory and recall by increasing the points of contact through additional advertisement mediums. As the third largest insurance company in the nation Geico seems to understand that brand awareness is created through associations with verbal, visual and unique links. For example, its brand’s character, the Gecko, is turned into a tangible icon and distributed through the Geico online store. Also, the Geico characters and brand name are available for lease by outside companies, which can increase reach and association links. Other associations that Geico creates are with professional groups, alumni associations and credit unions by offering policy discounts to such members. In this case, Geico could be attempting to build loyalty and preference over competition from a particular consumer segments. All of these tactics are carried out under the objective to strengthen brand equity. However, for brands to have strong equity its second component, brand image, must also be strategically created and managed. Brand image is a strong component and source of building brand equity. The objective of brand image is to create favorability over competition in the consumer mind in order to become less vulnerable to competitive marketing actions. To do this marketers attempt to enable consumer to recognize their brands POP while also recognizing the brand’s beneficial PODs. As Wall Street Journal Editor states, “brand image is the key differentiator among rival companies” (Publusher:Pittsburg Post – Gazette;Suzanne Vranica, The Wall Street Journal, January 2nd, 2007). This is done through positioning and communication of the brand’s value to consumers through various marketing tactic that create brand image. As Geico attempts to grown brand equity by increasing brand awareness, through predominately paid advertisement, the messaging within creates their brand image. Geico relies on messaging and the use of brand elements to create brand image. All of the Geico ads are somber in tone and fun in style. This design portrays calmness and likability. As New York Times journalist Stuart Elliot, in relevance to Geico commercials, “it puts a smile on your face, which is not such a bad thing right now” (Geico’s Lizard Offers a New Message of Reassurance, Feb 2009, NYtimes.com). This statement refers to the current economic condition and Geico’s reaction to the public’s concerns. During this economic recession, Geico has attempted to create an image of reliability. To convey this, Geico designs ads that include its stable icon, the Gecko (which has been in Geico ads since 1999), and a Geico top executive staff member who verbally engage in conversations and scenarios about how Geico is a dedicated, trustworthy, and loyal company who values customers above all else. This image of dependability speaks to consumers who perhaps have had negative experience with unreliable insurance companies. To this audience, quality customer service may be important components to purchasing decisions. This affects the brand equity in a positive way as the strategy has enabled the consumer to favor Geico over competition. At the same time, this brand image tactic could also create inelasticity among such a consumer segment. To reinforce the brand image, and grow awareness and relate to consumers, Geico implements secondary brand association to its marketing tactics. Secondary brand associations are implemented in attempt to grow awareness, acquire meaningfulness among consumers, and create various brand images. It can also allow a brand to leverage equity, broaden brand meaning, and offer revenue opportunities by linking a brand to a place, person, thing or another brand. Geico attempts to create these secondary brand association’s advantages by aligning with certain affiliations that will transfer positive response-type judgments and feelings to their brand in the minds of consumers. For instance, the Geico website shows viewers its AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s the worlds top provider of independent credit ratings (Standardandpoor.com) this third-party source is associated with financial stability and credibility. It is these attributes that Geico hopes will transfer to their brand by displaying the rating publically. Also, through this transformation a response-type reaction could occur that would produce judgments and feelings of security in consumer’s minds towards the Geico brand. To emphasize this response, and reinforce its financial credibility, Geico also displays its partnership with strong brand equity bank, Bank of America, and its relations with investment icon, Warren Buffet, on its home webpage. Another way that Geico uses secondary brand association to leverage brand equity growth is through a celebrity-endorsed spokesman. A number of Geico commercials have been produced with football player, Washington Redskin Jason Campbell. In this instance Geico is attempting to leverage Jason’s fame and popularity to increase brand awareness, create positive brand image and target consumers who might make purchasing decisions based on this affiliation. Being a strong and powerful individual, Jason may be relatable to the Geico target market of automotive power machines owners and obtain a response-type of reaction that could transfer to the Geico brand image. It is possible that attributes, which Jason is associated with, enable this transfer and cause consumers to better recall Geico and favor the brand over competition.However, the disadvantages to secondary brand associations will have to be understood by the Geico marketing team to ensure that if Jason’s image turns negative, the association will not negatively affect Geico’s brand image. The danger is that even if the endorsement is cancelled, the transfer of brand image will not be in consumer’s minds. This is clearly a risk that Geico has willingly accepted.