Leveraging Secondary Brand Associations to Build Brand Equity: Companies, Countries

9th November 2021 1 By indiafreenotes

There are various ways to create brand equity. Brand elements offer many alternatives style, logo unique selling proposition etc. Then there are marketing strategies aimed at product, price and distribution network. Here focus is on product and its attributes, correct and convincing price structure, and finally choice of product reaches consumer. Marketing communication is also strategic with respect to build brand equity with choice of medium (TV, radio, etc) and sales/consumer promotion. But what would be course of brand building for brand extension? Here brand has to draw some brand elements and brand knowledge from already developed brand, which has already created impression in consumer’s mind, thereby leveraging secondary brand association to create brand equity.

Marketers have various options available to them to facilitate leveraging process. These options are association with companies, countries and distribution channel. Next set of options relate to brand image and they are in form of brand ambassador, event sponsorship and other related activities. Secondary brand association has its importance when consumers are not aware of the new or upcoming brand. This leads to indifferent approach from customer towards brand. However, if consumers do not have knowledge of associating company than there could be no knowledge transfer and cannot translate into benefit for the brand. Even if the consumers have brand knowledge how much relevance it holds for the current brand also has to be ascertained.

If a company is to introduce a new brand the first step of association is with corporate brand if it exists. For example, Nokia, when it introduces mini laptop, it was referred as Nokia 3G Booklet there are creating association, as consumer are already aware Nokia mobile phones. Along with company, country of origin can also be relevant source for brand association, for example BMW and its association with Germany. Top class and renowned German engineering process gets linked to brand BMW or other car coming out of Germany. Another valuable association is through channel distribution; if company already has a strong retail level penetration, then introduction of new brand will have its benefit. But here question is raised concerning brand positioning, if retail network is catering to high end brand, that distribution network will not relevant for low end brand.

Above listed of association within current company’s infrastructure, however association can also be developed with brand from different company. This concept is called co-branding, for example branding of airlines referred to as Star Alliance consisting of 16 airlines. Benefit with this kind of association is that their definite decrease in cost of introducing of brand plus positioning becomes easier. However, companies lose charge or control to the overall brand development process as it is peg with other brands. Lost in the crowd is another problem leading from brand associations.

Another way of association is through usage of logos, characters from brands, franchise of other product category. For example, Sony’s PSP coming out with console featuring characters from Star Wars. But strategy has a drawback, sometimes popularity character may last just for a movie or a season, in that case, brand has to undergo another round of association. So, choice of right character as shown by Sony is important. Celebrity endorsement is another way of association, for example, Tiger Woods endorsing product Gatorade. However, this also has challenges if that celebrity is involved endorsement many other brands. This could lead to dilution or recall value of brand. Also, if fortunes of celebrity go turtle brand are also in for some pounding. Event sponsorship is another way for brand association but again right choice of event is very essential to make the brand relevant among consumer. Another form of endorsement is from third party for example dental association certifying toothpaste brand.

Secondary brand associations sometimes play a crucial role. For example; if the consumers aren’t aware of your brand extension. In that case, the consumers will be indifferent. However, existing knowledge of the parent brand can make them more aware and more open to your extension. This is called knowledge transfer, and every brand extension can benefit from it.

Prior Knowledge

Therefore, associating your brand extension with your corporate brand should be your first step. Take Nokia for example. As a well-known phone manufacturer, they didn’t want to miss out on transferring that knowledge when they introduced a new product category Nokia 3G Booklets.

Country of Origin

It’s important to associate your new brand extension with memorable, impactful elements like the country of origins. Here’s one example. The BMW associates their brand heavily with Germany. In the automotive world, Germany stands for reliability, effectiveness, and durability. Therefore, it’s only natural that the BMW wants to be associated with those terms.

Distribution Channels

Brand extensions can benefit from already penetrated markets. The parent companies that have a stronghold and have already breached one market segment can use that to their advantage for their brand extensions. However, this doesn’t work in every case. If your brand extension doesn’t cater to the same segment, it won’t benefit from the efforts of the parent company.

Co-Branding and Secondary Brand Associations

You can also align your brand extension with a different company. This is co-branding, and it involves joining forces with other companies within the same product category. The perfect example is the Star Alliance. This alliance consists of sixteen different airline companies.

Co-branding is beneficial because it decreases the overall cost. Introducing your new brand is much cheaper with co-branding. Furthermore, it’s much easier to position such an alliance on the market.

However, co-branding is far from perfect. The number one problem is that you lose control over the development process, at least to a certain degree. Moreover, you might also get lost in the crowd, so to say.

Brand Visuals and Partners as Secondary Brand Associations

Popular Brands

You can also use visuals like logos and symbols to your advantage. What’s more, they don’t have to be your own you can partner up with another brand. Take Sony’s console with Star Wars characters as an example. Sony’s looking to raise the awareness of their new product by using brand awareness from Star Wars.

However, like anything else, this strategy isn’t perfect. Some brands can stand the test of time others can’t. So, choose the brands you partner up with carefully, as their popularity might be fleeting (take the Twilight franchise as an example). If you choose poorly, you’ll have to do another round of brand partnering.


Another strategy you can implement is celebrity endorsements. With the popularity of social media celebrities on the constant rise, this method is proving itself quite successful. However, just like brands, chose the stars you partner up with very carefully. You don’t want someone who endorses everyone. That will cause the consumers to have less faith in their opinion. It will, consequently, lead to a decrease in the perceived value of your brand. Not to mention fame is fleeting.

Third-Party Endorsements

You can also partner up with a third-party brand that’s relevant to your product category.

There is no single perfect strategy. What’s more, it’s often best to use a mix of approaches and marketing strategies to achieve the desired level of brand knowledge. That’s the only way to create strong brand equity.


This type of secondary brand associations may be seen as a sub-category or co-branding, but rather than associate two brand names directly, one brand licenses the use of its characters to another brand. The most obvious and prolific character licensor is Disney. One of the many licensees of Disney characters is Lego, who has been granted permission to create sets utilizing Disney characters. Disney fans thus may begin to positively associate Lego to their interests and vice-versa.


One of the most successful examples of associating a brand with a spokesperson is the partnership between Nike and Michael Jordan. Air Jordans have had such success that Jordan became a sub-brand under Nike.


Brands will often sponsor events to leverage them to increase brand awareness and positive associations among the event’s attendees and viewers. The most prevalent type is the sponsorship of sporting events, often taking the shape of sponsoring the event’s parent company. One example is Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s sponsorship of the NHL. This helps build Enterprise’s positive brand image among hockey fans.