In the previous article, we determined that the main task of positioning is to overcome competitive points of parity and differentiation, and to create differentiation points of own brand that meet attractiveness and realism criteria. In other words, marketers need to prove through the implementation of a marketing plan that the brand meets consumer needs and has attributes that surpass those of competitors. However, marketers also know that conveying information to the consumer and convincing them to change preferences is a very difficult and lengthy process if focusing solely on the product attributes. In many cases, it is better to use secondary or auxiliary associations that can much more quickly and inexpensively help create the foundation of brand perception, especially when it comes to a new brand in the market.

Therefore, secondary or auxiliary brand associations are associations that are related to other objects, but are conveyed to the brand through establishing a connection between the brand and another object using marketing tools. In other words, by linking the brand to another object that has its own associations, the impression is created that both have common characteristics and features, which instantly improves brand perception and increases its equity, which is actually integrated from other sources.


Hypothetically marketers can use anything as an object to create secondary brand associations, but in practice the following types of objects are most often distinguished:

  • Corporate brands or popular brands of the parent company can transfer almost all of the equity of the parent brand, including all associations and consumer perception, to the new brand. However, some companies use this method almost constantly, while others almost never do. For example, Procter & Gamble constantly uses the company logo and parent brand in all marketing communications, while its competitor Unilever uses them much less. Consumers are quite familiar with Procter & Gamble, but much less so with Unilever. The reason is that all of Procter & Gamble's family of brands belong to household and personal care products, so transferring the parent brand's associations to others is successful. On the other hand, Unilever has not only household and personal care products but also many food brands, which makes transferring associations almost meaningless. In fact, it is very difficult to transfer associations of household and personal care brands such as Domestos, Axe, and Dove to food products like Lipton, Knorr, and Rama;
  • Countries or regions that can convey associations of quality, production traditions, excellent and friendly service, style, originality, and so on to the brand. Indeed, positive associations regarding Scottish whiskey, French wine, German cars, Italian clothing, and so on have been fixed in consumers' minds for centuries. If there is an opportunity to indicate the brand's relationship to the required country or to connect the country or region with the brand appropriately and relevantly, the impact on consumer perception will be guaranteed in most cases. However, it is a big mistake to register a brand in Germany or Italy and then order low-quality goods in other countries - such a brand will not maintain a positive image for long and will lose consumers' trust;
  • Distribution channels, especially premium trade intermediaries, which usually lend some of their image to products, even if they are not well-known to consumers. In fact, the presence on the shelves of premium stores, beauty salons, branded service centers is already a sufficient recommendation for the consumer - if such a trusted seller trusts the brand, then the consumer does not need to worry about the quality or service of the product;
  • Brands of other companies, cooperation with which strengthens the image of the brand. Attracting other companies' brands into their own positioning is done through many forms, the most visible of which are licensing, advertising alliances, ingredient branding, joint branding, and so on. Licensing involves the paid use of elements of another brand, characters, music, and images, the effectiveness of which has been proven for decades (for example, the use of Disney cartoon characters). Advertising alliances involve joint advertising of two or more products from different companies, through which the involved brands expand their image. Ingredient branding involves using well-known materials and components in the product, which have their own brand equity (such as Teflon coating for cookware or Gore-Tex fabric), with further emphasis on these product elements to consumers. Joint branding refers to other forms of joint brand promotion, the most famous of which is the sale of sets of different products from different brands;
  • Celebrities whose involvement in positioning can be extremely effective, risky, and expensive. Companies choose a face for their brand that really appeals to the target audience and quickly strengthens the brand's positioning. However, at the same time, they spend crazy amounts of money, risking their own image in the event of any celebrity scandals. Let's recall how many different situations related to drug use, domestic violence, scandalous divorces, etc. shook society, and companies had to terminate contracts with celebrities and apply crisis management;
  • Events and activities whose sponsorship or advertising participation allows for a quick linkage between the event and the brand, reinforcing the connection between the brand and the target audience and creating corresponding associations. Many sporting events and various concerts and shows are in the highest demand;
  • Other opportunities for creating secondary associations. For example, funding scientific research, animal protection, charity, student scholarships, etc.

As we can see from the list of sources for creating secondary associations, the objective reality is that even the largest companies are not ashamed to use third-party objects to enhance their own image or increase awareness, despite the great risk of losing control over the brand image, which is a major problem. Indeed, companies take great risks when they overly strengthen their connection to a certain third-party object beyond their own control. Public opinion about the object can change negatively, and the already formed consumer perception of the brand may remain for a long time and require large expenses to change the image. Moreover, the source of secondary associations may simply become outdated, which will also have a negative impact on the brand's positioning and narrow the target audience.

To sum up, in two articles we have discussed brand positioning, which is only the beginning of marketing and coincides over time with the selection of basic brand elements, with the development and implementation of a marketing strategy. The hard work of developing and implementing a marketing mix, correcting mistakes, testing new hypotheses, launching new and relaunching old brands, etc. follows right away.

Achieving the commercial objectives of a company through effective marketing requires a deep understanding of the market situation, consumer needs, the ability to analyze and explore alternatives, and a creative approach to problem-solving. Our company has extensive experience in defining optimal marketing strategies for our clients' businesses, creating a strong brand and market positioning, as well as developing a marketing mix and implementing the chosen strategy. You can familiarize yourself with the services and solutions our company offers on the "Services" and "Solutions" pages, respectively.
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