Importance of Brand Management in SME's (study on Fast Food Takeaways of West London)
Many remarkable studies and literatures have been produced which discusses critical activities of the Brand management in LOs (Large organizations) while research on the importance of the brand management this in SME (Small Business Enterprises) has been neglected. I have tried to emphasis in my dissertation that what were those important factors of brand management which can be applied in small business so that these businesses can develop a better brand image in the market.
I have tried to limit my research on the fast food takeaways of west London area. My dissertation is based on primary and secondary research to support the literature and authenticity. It has been highlighted in the previous studies that two major research streams have been emerged in this field first focuses on providing an overarching brand management framework to guide managerial decision making (Keller, 1998; Macrae, 1996; Aaker, 1991; Park, Jaworski, and MacInnis, 1986) while the other concentrates on various discrete aspects of the process (Aaker and Joachimsthaler 2000; Berthon, Hulbert, and Pitt 1999a; de Chernatony and Riley 1998). Two gaps in the literature have been identified; 1) It has been identified that developed organizations are involved in numerous courses at once, 2) the brand management researches had been focusing utterly on large organizations, while the small and medium enterprises have been overlooked (Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008)
To manage a brand image requires a number of activities which shows that importance of brand management in SME are different than large organizations. On this basis an important question has been raised by the authors that how brands are in fact controlled in SME.
Though I am not been able to find any study specifically focusing on brand management in SME's but I have tried to explore the areas mentioned by previous authors. Visual identifications, exhibiting business in food exhibitions and magazine and keeping customer records are some of the important factors mentioned by the respondents.
Following Blankson, C. and Omar, O.E. (2002), SME is explained as a small to medium firm having employees less then 250, having a relatively small share of the market in economic terms, and managed by its owner(s) in a personalized way. Brands may have been there for more than a 1,000 years; but never has any society come across the influence of branding as is witnessed nowadays. Brands are prevailing in all portions of human life like food and clothing, production and consumption, personality and lifestyle and pop culture to politics. Branding themselves has become a kind of culture because it promotes & represents brands and like yesterday, it is no longer just about adding value to a product. In the eyes of Carson, D. (1990) (quoted in Hall, 1999); brands are currently gunning for a share of inner lives, their values, their beliefs, their politics, and their souls of consumers'. The effect of brands and branding is far away from the field of marketing and advertising. Branding is an economic construct as it has been considered from both marketing and financial perspectives and is a social construct as brands hasn't been completely understood owing to the lack of academic research in this area. Advertising in all probability is the most visible factor of marketing but branding in all probability is at the centre of any marketing communications. The roots of most problems of advertising lies in branding strategy. In 1990's Benetton's shocking advertising tactic is an infamous example.
Majority people would relate to a big business brand with large advertising expenditures, trying to reinforce the mindset that big businesses can be brands unlike the small businesses. Small business branding is frequently referred to as an oxymoron, so might the term entrepreneurial branding (Blankson, C. and Stokes. D, 2002). In small business branding, there is very less research. The research is mainly concerned with brand management of an existing venture. There seems to be very less academic research of branding in small business new ventures.
In SME marketing management it has been recognised that management style; operations and functions of SMEs are different from LOs (Knight, 2000; Cohn and Lindberg, 1972). The use of advertising or recruitment agencies is rare. Definition of survival mentality has been mentioned as ‘when a business meets resources and time constraints SME managers adapt a habit called Survival Mentality'. Marketing, human resource, management and general business planning are the major problems quoted by the authors in an SME (Huang and Brown, 1999).
Corporate image and corporate reputations have been differentiated under the umbrella of brand management. Corporate image has been defined as the “public's latest beliefs about the company” (Balmer, 1998 cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008, p. 29) while corporate reputations has been defined as “value judgments about an organization's qualities, trustworthiness and reliability built up over time” (Balmer, 1998; Fombrun and Van Riel, 1997 cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008, p.29). It has been mentioned that there is a consistency between an organizations and stakeholders belief about a brand though unfortunately SME and stakeholder relation hasn't been discussed yet in detail. The importance of the building a positive brand image in the market has been emphasized in order to create a niche in the market place. “Regardless of whether an organization is comprised of a singular or multiple brands, it is necessary that marketing efforts be directed toward establishing and maintaining a positive brand image in the minds of key stakeholders. Ultimately, this can contribute to the development of a favorable corporate reputation” (de Chernatony, 1999, cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008, p. 30). “Few small businesses follow a reputation building strategy and when a need for “image management” is recognized, it is often limited to implementing a public relations campaign” (Goldberg, Cohen, and Fiegenbaum, 2003 cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008, p. 30).
However, a brand can be best considered as a psychological phenomenon. Formally, a brand can be defined as a “name, sign, symbol, logo, etc. that identifies the goods and services of one selling the goods and differentiates the goods from others” (Deshpande, R., Farley, J.U. and Webster, F.E. Jr, 2003). A brand takes on meaning with customers through commercial messages, personal experiences, interpersonal communications and other means. The power of a brand resides in the minds of customers through countless brand interactions like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, behavior. The brand protects a product or service with meaning that differentiates the product from other product or services proposed to fulfill the same need. A brand is much more than a name. Branding is not a naming problem but a strategy problem (Deshpande, R., Farley, J.U. and Webster, F.E. Jr, 2003). A brand is a precious asset which must be managed carefully to preserve and enhance the meaning so that customers form strong relations as a result. Several essential principles of brand management applicable to industrial branding are highlighted here (Fuller, P.B. 2004).
Brand awareness and brand image are two components of the psychological meaning of a brand. Customers should be aware of what products or services are associated with a brand (brand awareness) and should be aware of what attributes and benefits the brand offers and what makes it superior and unique (brand image) (Gadenne, D. 2004). Industrial brands can distinguish themselves on the basis of a complete host of characteristics and benefits that range in tangibility and their association to the product. Some relationship will be associated to the brand's functional performance such as product's value proposition and promised benefits and more intangible considerations will be indicated from further associations like corporate image dimensions embodying such characteristics as trust, ethics, credibility, reliability and corporate social responsibility (Gilmore, A., Carson, D. and Grant, K. 2001).
Branding is a central part of marketing activity. "To brand or not to brand?" isn't the question. Moreover, every company has a name which will function as a brand for it. For many industrial marketers, the company name is the brand. The question is "What you want your name stand for and what it is to mean in the mind of the customer"(Gray, B., Matear, S., Boshoff, C. and Matheson, P. 2007) every contact involving the company and the customer becomes an input. The brand must be managed as a strategic asset otherwise it will be managed by customers there or thereabouts at random. An industrial brand managed properly can realize the same reward as a consumer brand like price premiums, greater loyalty, and ability to extend into other categories, and so on.
Brand positioning brings in the heart of the brand (Hogarth-Scott, S., Watson, K. and Wilson, L, 1996). They should have both points-of-parity and points-of-difference with regard to competitors' product offerings. Those associations where the brand “breaks even” with competitors and negates their intended points-of-difference are called as Points-of-parity while those associations where the customer behavior is driven by strong, favorable, and unique brand associations are called points-of-difference (Hill, J. 2001a). The core brand promise or brand mantra is an internal marketing expression that captures key points-of-difference that are the essence and spirit of the brand in a three-to-five word phrase. The brand slogan is based on the brand mantra which is used in advertising and other communications where a translation of the mantra is done in consumer friendly language. For instance, Nike's internal brand mantra is “authentic athletic performance” while the external brand slogan is “Just Do it” which is used as signature to many of their ads (Hill, J. 2001b). Examples for industrial brands slogan which reflect principal brand mantras are Agilent Technologies' "Dreams Made Real," Emerson's "Consider It Solved," GE's "Imagination at Work," Hewlett Packard's "Invent," "Novell's "The Power to Change," United Technologies' "Next Things First," and Xerox' "The Document Company." The Brand Charter summarizes the development, history, and positioning of a brand. All marketing action must be consistent and be evaluated against the Brand Charter. Strong brands have a uniform brand image for every individual customer and across the customer population. Strength of a brand reflects the quality and uniformity of the firm's marketing efforts and the concern with which the brand has been managed in due course. For a brand to be successful, it has to be consistent with the firm's strategy and the strategic marketing management (Hurmerinta-Peltomaki, L. and Nummela, N.1998).
1.2 Research Aims and Objectives
* To recognize the forces of brand Management which generates a brand image for a little fast food restaurant/takeaway in the market?
* To recognize the suitable literature produced on brand management in SME's.
* To get hold a few of the key fast food restaurants/takeaways.
* To discover and take into account a methodological approach which will assist in finding primary (qualitative or quantitative have to be determined yet)
* To vitally analysis and evaluate results with the preceding findings and provide the significance of brand management in the SME's.
1.3 Value and contribution
In the intellectual perspective, this research will try to highlight the importance of branding in small businesses investigating the concept in fast food and takeaways of London. Though the research and literature done in Branding in small businesses is very less. In the industrial context, the study will provide a strategic understanding of the potential application of Branding at the early stage of business development and how it can be used as a strategic tool for building a brand image.
1.4 structure of the dissertation
The report is structured in the following format:
Chapter 1: Introduction
This chapter provides the background to the research topic discusses the aims and objectives of the study. It also illustrates the academic and industrial value the research seeks to address.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Literature review highlights the literature the research is based upon and concludes with the research done into the effectiveness of brand management in small business enterprises and different concepts of branding like product branding and corporate branding and their differences. It also discusses new theory of branding for small businesses which is of importance to the dissertation at hand.
Chapter 3: Methodology
This chapter includes the methodology adapted by for this research paper. Sample data of the research is being discussed in this chapter. It will also highlight the research philosophy, research question, research design, data collection and analysis methods and reliability and validity of the data.
Chapter 4: Findings
This chapter discusses the finding of the questionnaires in graphical representation followed by descriptive description. It also presents the important factors highlighted by the respondents during the survey.
Chapter 5: Discussions and Limitations
You will be able to find the comparative analysis of the findings and recommendations in this chapter. This chapter also highlights the limitations of the research and future research possibilities in this area.
The strategic importance of the effective brand management has been recognised and been highlighted by many researchers (Kirby, D., 2003). Two major streams which have emerged in the brand management field includes; “providing an overarching brand management framework to guide managerial decision-making” (Keller, 1998; Macrae, 1996; Aaker, 1991; Park, Jaworski, and MacInnis, 1986 cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008, p. 27); whereas “the second concentrates on various discrete aspects of the process” (Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 2000; Berthon, Hulbert and Pitt, 1999a; de Chernatony and Riley, 1998 cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008, p. 27). Authors have identified two gaps in the literature, 1) It has been becoming common that developed organizations are involved in multiple directions which probably means that they have enhanced their business operations or they have probably entered into different product lines which normally most of the small medium sized business do to increase their profits and sales (Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008) it is also been quoted by the authors, as ‘Organizational Ambidexterity' (Berthon, Hulbert and Pitt 1999).
The second major gap which is identified is that previously empirical studies have focused brand management concept only on the large organizations which normally includes top 100 companies of the world. The suggested reasons for this gap are given by some of the other authors which are also quoted in this article; it may be because SMEs typically lack the capabilities, marketing power and other resources of large organizations (Knight, 2000; Cohn and Lindberg, 1972) or it may be because SMEs are failed to realize brand can also be built with the help of relatively reserved budgets (Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 1999) Authors do contend that SMEs can build a brand image with limited budget but the major question is what management principles they should follow to build it?
An initial precise study on SME brandings is Abimbola (2001) who has tried to explore how branding can be a competitive strategy. Other studies have also explored this theme like Cravens (2000), but not in an SME context. According to Abimbola, new brands are like new products, and there is a particular need to draw on inventiveness, innovation and imaginative flair in brand extensions. For instance, the imaginative flair of the owner, like Virgin or Easy Jet, help deliver creative applications of branding programs. Though, similar principles pertain to SME in comparison to large-scale branding, Abimbola (2001) advises SMEs, having fewer resources, need better focus and effectiveness. For example, an SME's center of attention be corporate brand or just a handful brands and run very closely specified and targeted campaigns. Utilizisation of the entrepreneur in public relations was also encouraged. For instance, a study of Dyson appliance company (Doyle, 2003), a firm used an entrepreneurial approach to create its brand. Attention was paid as to how Dyson built a brand personality as part of its marketing.
A useful typology of branding among SME's based on case research of eight smalls- to medium sized firms have been provided by Wong and Merrilees (2005). Three different types of small businesses were identified, At the bottom was the minimalist branding approach, where firms have minimalist marketing across the board, in the middle was an embryonic branding archetype, these firms are stronger than the first archetype with respect to marketing, but their understanding of branding isn't well developed and at the top was the integrated branding archetype. Branding is very informal, optional, and a narrow range of promotional tools. Wong and Merrilees (2005) initiate that SMEs at the top were the integrated branding archetype and possibly the least familiar.
“Small business branding is not a good logo, a rhyming name, or special font. Small business branding is the owner. It's what the owner does, says and how the owner's traits come through in every aspect of the business. It's the way relationships are built and maintained, the way a person does business and treats other people. It's how rapport is established at an individual level, where trust and comfort exist as human characteristics, not from theme music, models or slogans.” Yaro Starak, 2005
Marketing as well as branding were stronger; informal approaches and formal approaches were taken to branding; branding was essential to the business; branding was not merely a choice; and a wider assortment of promotional tools were used. A clearer understanding of customer needs was there among the integrated branding small businesses: The letter Z was included in a firm's name to appear close to the top of any industry list while another firm to remind its employees posted a laminated description of its brand on the back-office door to remind employees of it. One more substantive outlook on SME branding is offered by Krake (2005), who agreed with the deficit of earlier literature on the subject, compared to SME marketing research and uses a qualitative case study of ten medium-sized firms. A varied set of approaches to branding was seen but little at a conscious level. However, the cases did not propose a common tack or brand success route. Krake (2005), drawing partially from the cases and particularly the common branding literature, built-up a “funnel” model of brand management in SMEs. The SME's special features incorporated: the most important role of the entrepreneur/owner in terms of their obsession of the brand and this may widen to their epitome of the brand. The entrepreneur will have a particularly controlling authority on the company structure; and there may be more imagination used in marketing promotions. In other words, there is a more personal character to the brand. In addition, the owner appreciates the significance of branding; there may be extra room to take the brand throughout the firm. The most current documents on small business branding inspect the role of corporate branding for start-ups (Rode and Vallaster, 2005). This study is flanking to the realm of the current paper. Start-up companies refer to pre-launch as well as early start-up activity, while the nine cases in Rode and Vallaster (2005) look to focus on the first few years of operation. Their work suitably sums up the connection among corporate identity and corporate image and they point out its significance to new ventures.
Their experiential evidence of nine cases shows a miserable picture of how well small businesses have incorporated corporate identity ideas. The majority of the interviewed entrepreneurs had only an imprecise idea of their business concept, market positioning core values and the business concept was seldom documented (Inskip, 2004). Submissions to banks were to a little extent contrived in order to secure financing. Philosophies and basic values and seemed fluid, answers brand names, and consistency not at all times was achieved. Selection and training of staff was disorganized. Corporate communication and sharing of information proved difficult. All in all, the corporate identity and cultural developments looked unstructured, encouraging Rode and Vallaster (2005) to build up three propositions that potentially could start to move this observed near to ground performance. Fascinatingly, four out of five most important studies have alluded to the essential role of the founder in the branding process; therefore it would seem that any new theory of small business branding should do the similar.
Branding can somehow be explained as a strategy, a process, an orientation and a instrument (Majumdar, 2006). Branding is defined as the method through which a marketer aims to build long term relationship with the consumers by evaluating their requirements and needs so that the product (brand) can fulfill their mutual desires.
Branding can be looked as an instrument to locate a product or a service with a reliable of quality and also the value for money to make certain the development of a habitual liking by the consumer. It is a general knowledge that the costumer's selection is inclined by many factors out of which the simplest one is a brand name (Kotler, et al, 2007). Even though there can be equally pleasing products available in the market, the customer once pleased with some brand will not want to make an additional endeavor to assess the other substitutes available. Initially if the customer is satisfied with a particular brand, than he or she is inclined to stick with it, unless and until there is a great increase in the price of the product or an evident superior quality of product comes to their knowledge, which force the customer to change the brand (Lancaster, & Massingham, 1999).
Branding may be generally applied as a segregation strategy when the products available cannot be differentiated easily in conditions of tangible traits or in products that are apparent as a commodity. In all these conditions marketers apply branding as a differentiation strategy and attempt to build up a relationship with consumer groups. That is, they attempt to expand and provide the customized products and auxiliary services with customized communications to tally with the self-image of the consumer. Such differentiation is a regular procedure and the beginning and on-going measures are explained (Majumdar, 2006).
2.3 Corporate Branding
In coordinating the brand-building process, corporate brand architecture plays a vital role which is defined by core values shared by different products with a common and overall brand identity. The major part of the corporate brand is to give credibility in cases such as communications with government, the financial sector, the labor market, and society in general (Urde, 2003). Corporate Brand has different fundamentals like organizational values, core values and added values. The relation between these foundations helps to form the value-creating process of the corporate brand (Urde, 2003). Companies face different disputes and challenges of organizing their resources and internal procedures so that the core values for which the corporate brand stands can be strengthened, differentiated and expressed as added value for consumers. The firm's brand equity and competitive position is significant for the linkage between core values and corporate brand. Management and organization-wide support is crucial in this process (Urde, 2003). A corporate brand is not necessarily limited to a single corporation. It can also apply to a variety of corporate entities, such as corporations, their subsidiaries, and groups of companies (Balmer and Gray, 2003). Balmer (1998) suggests that to differentiate the firm from its competitors, corporate identity is an important corporate asset which represents the firm's ethics, goals and values. The reason being that the markets are becoming more complex and products and services are quickly imitated and homogenized which is rather difficult in maintaining a credible product differentiation, requiring the positioning of the whole corporation relatively than simply its products. Therefore, the corporate values and images appear as key elements of differentiation strategies (Hatch and Schultz, 2001). A corporate brand has an assumption that it will support all aspects of the firm and differentiate the firm from its competitors (Harris and de Chernatony, 2001; Ind, 1997; Balmer, 2001).
Corporate branding allows the firms to use the vision and culture of the whole organization clearly as part of its distinctiveness (Balmer, 1995, 2001; de Chernatony, 1999). De Chernatony (2001) suggests for firms to incorporate their strategic vision with their brand building. In contrast with the product brand, the firm's visibility, recognition and reputation to a greater extent can be increased with the corporate brand. Balmer and Gray (2003) propose that one of the benefits of strong corporate brands is that investors may seek them out deliberately. They furthermore play an imperative role in the recruitment and retention of valuable employees and offer more chances for strategic or brand associations. Alan (1996) illustrates the flow of corporate branding to the rising costs of advertising, retailer power, product fragmentation, new product development cost efficiencies, and consumers' expectations of corporate credentials.
2.4 Product Branding
Product branding yields different advantages for firms. McDonald et al. (2001) argue that, a firm using a product-brand strategy rather than corporate branding will experience less damage to its corporate image if one of its individual brands fails. When the Tylenol brand was under siege in the USA because of tainted batches, Procter & Gamble's name and reputation were somewhat shielded by the product-branding strategy, leaving Pampers and Tide undamaged by the Tylenol scare. A product brand allows firms to position and appeal to different segments in different markets which also makes it flexible. For instance, Budweiser beer is a quality beer that is solid value for money and which is sold in the USA as large temptation. In contrast, it is marketed in some overseas markets as a premium product, and its product image is linked to the American lifestyle. Although a challenge which is faced with product branding is to target different small segments through different brands that can result in high marketing costs and lower brand profitability.
The main role of branding and brand management is to create differentiation and preference in the minds of customers. The development of product branding has been built around the core role that maintains differentiation in a particular market (Knox and Bickerton, 2003). Corporate branding builds on the tradition of product branding, seeking to create differentiation and preference. However, corporate branding is conducted at the level of the firm instead of the product or service, and furthermore to an extend on which its reaches beyond customers to stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors, suppliers, partners, regulators and local communities (Hatch and Schultz, 2001).
2.5 Corporate Branding Versus Product Branding
To present a controlled representation of the corporation's value system and identity, the corporate brand can be considered as the addition of the corporation's marketing efforts (Ind, 1997; Balmer, 2001). It has been differentiated from a product brand in its strategic focus and its implementation, which combines corporate strategy, corporate communications and corporate culture (Balmer, 1995, 2001). Balmer and Gray (2003) and Hatch and Schultz (2003) argues that corporate branding differs from product branding in several other ways. First, the focus shifts from the product to the corporation. Corporate branding therefore represents the corporation and its members to a greater extent. Second, corporate brands generally involve strategic considerations at a higher executive level even though managerial responsibility for product brands usually rest in the middle-management marketing function. Third, corporate brands usually relate all of the firm's stakeholders and products and services to each other whereas product brands typically target specific consumers. Fourth, product-brand management is normally conducted within the marketing department, while corporate branding requires support across the corporation and cross-functional coordination. Fifth, product brands are reasonably short-term, compared to corporate brands along with their heritage and strategic vision. Hence, corporate branding is more strategic than the normally functional product branding. Hatch and Schultz (2003) further argues that to position the firm in its marketplace and to set up internal maintain arrangements appropriate to its strategic importance corporate branding engineers interactions among strategic vision, organizational culture and corporate image. Similarly, Ind (1997) classifies three key differences. First, corporate branding attains a certain degree of tangibility through the messages the firm delivers and the relationship it establishes with various stakeholders. Second, corporate branding is more complex than product branding because of the variety of messages and relationships and also the potentially consequent confusion. Third, it is being inclined to demand greater attention to issues of ethical or social responsibility. The focus of a product brand is on customers while corporate brand has its focus on stakeholders. Therefore, corporate brands can provide a sense of trust and quality for the firm in extending a product line or diversifying into other product lines (Balmer and Gray, 2003). An effective corporate brand also has an intrinsic “excess capacity”, or “leverage”, which can possibly be translated to other markets (Peteraf, 1993). It is observed that corporate brands are extensively used to launch new products in new markets. Corporate branding usually exercises the total corporate communication mix to engage target audiences who perceive and judge the company and its products or services. The overall image of the firm at the corporate level is therefore expected to generate brand equity (Keller, 2000). The firm is expected to be largely influenced by the core company values and heritage. In addition, strategic vision also contributes to the image, in the sense that stakeholders normally seek and use information about the firm beyond what it provides. Hatch and Schultz (2003) concludes that those firms who are successful in creating a corporate brand are more competitive than firms relying only on product branding in the uneven markets created by globalization. On the other hand, corporate branding also requires immediate and effective interaction of strategic vision, organizational culture, which makes it more complex than product branding. de Chernatony (1999) embraces that it facilitates customers' desire to look deeper into the brand and evaluate the nature of the firm. The firm offers liable customers to accept its claims about other products and services which is build through trust in the products and the brand.
Hence, in this section it's been concluded that branding helps to create market share as well as it helps the SME to grow and develop in the market place. A slight element is known with regard to the impact of branding (not advertising) on the stakeholders apart from the brand owners and users and the link between branding and corporate reputation (Cizmar, S. and Weber, S 2000). Small business branding is frequently referred to as an oxymoron. Branding is mainly considered as the area of big business with strong recognition by the majority of the population, for instance banks, fashion labels and car companies, are household words. Does anybody not know that Ford is a car company? While, many small businesses themselves may not think they are a brand, like the local butcher. Another aspect is that if they do think they are a brand, they aren't going to incorporate this knowledge into their day to day operations.
2.6 Brand Management
Now a day company image and company reputation is two different and hot topics for researchers in the brand management field. Corporate reputation is built over the period of the time while an image can be created on the basis of the acts of a corporation. According to Fombrun, Gardberg & Server, 1999 corporate reputation can be defined as wise use of corporate assets, quality of management and quality of products or services. It has also been defined as ‘Overall evaluation of company overtime' (Gotsi & Wilson, 2001 cited in Barnett, Jermier, and Lafferty, 2006 p. 17).Whereas corporate image is defined in terms of the publics' latest belief about a company (Balmer, 1998).
Following model shows that corporate reputation is based on corporate image. This model is proposed by (Barnett, 2006 cited in Barnett, Jermier, and Lafferty, 2006 p. 21)
It has been mentioned that brand management can be helpful in acting as a bridge between a brand's image/identity and its reputation. Brand management can be defined as the process of creating, coordinating and monitoring interactions that occur between an organization and its stakeholders (Schultz, Barnes 1999; Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008). It is not necessary that a company is dealing in single or multiple brands, important thing is that a company should focus on building a positive brand image in the minds of key stakeholders or market with the passage of time (Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008) which will “ultimately contribute to the development of a favorable corporate reputation” (de Chernatony, 1999 cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008 p. 30)
2.7 SME Marketing Management
An extensive research has been done on the SME marketing management and very useful literature has been produced by the authors combining different studies. It has been mentioned in the article that most developed economies comprises of vast majority of the SMEs. Gross domestic product, National Employment and export performance of a country are contributed by SMEs.
Small business is often regarded as entrepreneurship-driven. There are many reasons for this, e.g. (1) the entrepreneur basically the owner of the business himself plays an important role in the small businesses as in large firms and (2) entrepreneurial spirit is not weakened by significant hierarchies and can more easily saturate the firm (Freiling, n.d.). It has been agreed by different authors that operational activities, marketing management and management style of SME's are much different then LO's and furthermore research on brand management in SME's has been neglected. Important brand tools to measure the brands management of the companies are mostly made keeping in mind LO's and when they are applied to SME's they come with certain limitations e.g. Keller's Brand Report card is very good tool to measure brand equity but some of the point are not applicable to SME's because small business cannot afford them. The owner in the SME is responsible for the major activities of the business which includes the decision making stage, marketing, advertising, Hr policies and other operational activities. Most of the SMEs owners have the survival mentality because of the time and money constraints (Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008).
2.8 Managing Brands in SMEs
“Few small businesses follow a reputation building strategy and when a need for ‘image management' is recognized, it is often limited to implementing a public relations campaign”. (Goldberg, Cohen and Fiegenbaum, 2003; cited in Berrthon, Ewing, & Napoli, 2008 p. 30). Following three axiom and prepositions have been proposed to answer the question that how brands are managed in SMEs.
Company's marketing efficiency is the major cause of the small business success (Smith, 1990) and survival (Blankson and Stokes, 2002; Brooksbank et al., 1999, 2004). Whereas short of understanding the target market is been quoted as the cause of the company failure (Fuller, 1994; Gadenne, 1994; Hogarth-Scott et al., 1996; McLarty, 1998;Murdoch et al., 2001). Quite a few authors squabble the significance of planning for SME's since it explains management thinking, offers introduces a marketing perspective and a sense of direction to activities like improving the quality of market knowledge, establishing priorities, motivating and directing staff and setting objectives (Analoui and Karami, 2003; Hill and McGowan, 1999; Carson and Cromie, 1989). In contrast, it has also been agreed by the marketing educators that proper marketing planning which is promoted by marketing gurus is not suitable for SME's (Lewis et al., 2001; McCarton-Quinn and Carson, 2003; Blankson and Omar, 2002; Hill, 2001a, b). SMEs characteristics like implementing an informal marketing plan influence the business. They tend to focus more on short-term goals than long-term objectives because of the time and financial constraints (Beaver and Harris, 1995) and prefer more action than planning (Matthews and Scott, 1995). Carson and Cromie (1989) recommend two factors that by a long way influence marketing planning in small firms, that is the controlling influence of the owner or manager upon the firms marketing activity and the “evolution” of marketing practice (the relationship involving stages of marketing and the business life-cycle). It is also seen that most of the SME owners prefer simple and meaningful marketing plan rather than a complex and formal marketing plan (Carson, 1999; Lancaster and Waddelow, 1998; McCarton-Quinn and Carson, 2003). though it has been proved that marketing plans which are more formal and constructive are better in nature to implement management of small business rather than the spontaneous ones Walker et al. (1992). In comparison, the business objectives and management style is different in small businesses and large businesses (Leppard and McDonald, 1987). SME's are run under a low financial and human capital and normally these companies have to compromise on the growth other than sales and profit maximization as large companies do so and these companies also lack services of the specialized marketing expertise and have to compromise on the market share (Gilmore et al., 2001). As these business cannot afford special individuals for different departments of the business so manager of the company who is actually the owner of the business takes decision related to HR, marketing and operational so basically they are obliged to become “generalists” undertaking a wide variety of business activities (Carson, 1999). In line, this means that SME's are also considerably characterized by personality of their owner/managers and the management style (Carson and Cromie, 1989; Hill, 2001a, b; Dewhurst, 1996; Stokes, 1995; Hurmerinta-Peltomaki and Nummela, 1998). SME's enjoys closer relationships with the employees and they are better in response to change according to the needs of the customers and strategies of competitors other than large organizations which results in more flexibility and innovation They rely considerably on word-of-mouth for promotion (Stokes, 2000; Stokes and Lomax, 2002) they use personal social and business networks for the business development and there experiential knowledge is used to instinctively build up their competencies (Carson, 1999; Gilmore et al., 2001; Carson and McCarton-Quinn, 1995; Hill, 2001a, b; Stokes, 2000). A number of researchers suggest that it is hard to unravel such networking and relationship building from entrepreneurial action, and accordingly, imply that marketing orientation goes to the central part of the innovativeness that is necessary to SME success (Hult et al., 2003; ; Zontanos and Anderson, 2004; Wilson and Stokes, 2004).
2.9 New Theory of Branding For Small Business New Ventures
There is unexpectedly little clear research available on this subject. First and foremost there is some all-purpose entrepreneurial research, but with partial reference to branding and an extremely limited amount of direct (regarding branding) subjective research. Not many articles above have been referred to. Furthermore, to the point reference to branding is made in entrepreneurial books (Allen, 1999; Scarborough and Zimmerer, 2006; Lodish et al., 2001; Katz and Green, 2007; Barringer and Ireland, 2006). The all-purpose entrepreneurial research proposes the following important considerations in developing a new business venture - opportunity recognition skills; innovation and creativity; access to capital; a good business model; and accessing suppliers initially and accessing customers initially. The author has joint branding, marketing and entrepreneurial research domains to suggest how branding may assist new venture entrepreneurial activities. The thoughts are forwarded as proposals at this stage and together form a new theory.
P1. An overarching integrating tool is provided by corporate branding for the entire new venture process.
The term “corporate” branding refers to the whole organization and not essentially a large company. This is essentially the suggestion from Abimbola (2001) which is discussed above. It reflects fewer resources on hand to small businesses. We consider that corporate branding is better than the second alternative recommended by Abimbola (2001) that is just focusing on one or two product brands. The explanation that corporate branding is superior than concentrating on one or two product brands is that the former facilitates interaction with stakeholders other than customers, for example suppliers and bankers. The corporate brand can be leveraged more than product brands. There may well be advantages of using one or two strong product brands in dealing with meticulous customers, so the product branding approach could balance the corporate branding approach. Such as, a small business sells a basic model of electrical component and a premium model, with superior casing, but in both circumstances the firm's name is significant in marketing. The scene for all of the other propositions is set in P1.
P2. The founder or owner has to take accountability for getting stakeholder buy-in to the corporate brand.
It has been observed that five out of four studies talked about the literature review allude to the important role of the founder in the branding process (Abimbola, 2001; Krake, 2005; Doyle, 2003; Rode and Vallaster, 2005; Wong and Merrilees, 2005). The leader's role in facilitating buy-in to the corporate brand has in recent times been highlighted (Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006). For a lot of small businesses the founder, CEO and general manager are expected to be the one person, as a result the heavy responsibility of achieving stakeholder buy-in falls on the founder's shoulders. This is a lot to ask from one person who has a lot of other functions to administer. The remaining propositions associate to various stages of the new venture process, with the important role of branding highlighted.
P3. Branding brings about focus and discipline to the creative and innovative process.
The very character of branding is a focusing tool. A brand concentrates on a few core values that are targeted at key customers. Creativity and Innovation is by nature to some extent uncontrolled phenomenon, consequently a carefully selected means bringing about discipline to innovation is expected to benefit the new venture. Naming the business and corporate branding is part of the creative process. In Katz and Green (2007, pp. 235-36) refers to naming the firm is the only reference to branding. They advise a name that helps distinguish the firm from its competitors and leads the consumer in their direction, perhaps through reference to the product category, however allowing for future growth of business scope. Besides from naming the firm, branding can support the innovative process. A minute change management consultancy reinvented itself by restricting its charter to merely briefs that needed abstract solutions. Hence, the want to narrow the capabilities and brand standing of the firm required an innovation of the business. Furthermore, a strong corporate brand vision makes sure that the correct innovations are followed, not just any innovation which helps conserve resources. One more feature of the branding-innovation nexus is the part of the consumer in the innovative process. There is well-established literature that accepts that input from the customer can assist the innovative process in both large (Harvard Business Review, 2001; Trott, 2002) and small firms (Whiteley and Hessan, 1996; Cobbenhagen, 2000). In recent times, one more perspective has been added to the link involving consumers, innovation and branding. Their own meaning to brands is given in a more devolved world, niche segments or sub-cultures (Gottdiener, 1995; Brown, 2006; Kates and Goh, 2003). This gets us into the world of brand polysemy, or brand morphing, ambi-brands, in which there may possibly be multiple meanings for the brand. This means that consumers basically co-construct brands with producers, to a certain extent than the traditional top-down view of brand development. Such a new viewpoint can be harnessed by entrepreneurs when developing new ventures; essentially, consumers are a source that can be leveraged by small firms to enlarge and strengthen their common brand equity:
P4. Branding may well be observed as a filter to the opportunity recognition process.
Capturing and searching new ideas that bring about business opportunities is known as opportunity recognition (Katz and Green, 2007, p. 79). There is some proposal that female entrepreneurs may be superior at opportunity recognition than males (Mankalow and Merrilees, 2001). A few authors have made an attempt to map out the opportunity identification process (Gaglio and Katz, 2001), but it is difficult to allow for the unforeseen or unusual opportunities that may come out. A few authors have recommended that serendipity goes to the heart of the opportunity recognition process (Merrilees et al., 1998). Serendipity is noticed as a real capability moderately than just chance. The dare is whether branding considerations could help translate the other infinite range of opportunities. Potential entrepreneurs could observe the world of opportunities in the course of a branding lens. Namely, what are the branding opportunities out there? Thus, Branding is a holistic tool, a way of processing or chunking information into very small size pieces. Branding helps diminish a never-ending range of opportunities into a comparatively small number of separate brand bundles. Thus, Branding might be a way of learning of how to handle serendipity efficiently, particularly for those small businesses that do not have the inborn capabilities to do so.
P5. The business model formulation is sharpened by Branding.
The business model basically specifies what the firm will propose to future customers; who will be the target market and how the offer is to be delivered to the customer. A particularly comprehensive move toward business model formulation is given in Davidsson and Klofsten (2003), wherein their model includes formulation of the business idea, and development of an operational organization, commitment, competencies and customer relationships and product and market definitions. Couple of entrepreneurship writers have highlighted the importance of the business model, a place basically where the entrepreneurial and strategic management perspectives meet (Amit and Zott, 2001, 2000; Sirmon and Hitt, 2003; McGrath and MacMillan). Recently, an excellent overview and extension of the literature observe Morris et al. (2005). A benefit of the Morris et al. (2005) approach is that it gives a very detailed platform that could gladly be extended to many explicitly embed branding considerations. The business models need is to recognize critical resources and capabilities and exercises how to leverage them into a competitive advantage. They proposed that focus van be sharpened by branding principles. It is a very careful way of developing value propositions. Basically, the entrepreneur has to provide consideration as to how the brand will be developed. An example is given in Penttila (2004) of how an entrepreneur could show the firm's branding plan in the business plan. Such as, an upscale dry-cleaning business is given, with all touch points associated through the integrated strategy:
P6. Branding enhances access to new venture capital.
Two ways are there that branding can help acquire capital. First, as we have previously squabbled, branding can whet the business model formulation. The whetted business model formulation in order can be translated into a whet and better-justified business plan, which should raise the chances of financial approval. Secondly, separately from the business plan itself, a further task of branding is the integrity of the organization applying for capital. A superior brand or highly regarded entrepreneur will also raise the chance of financial support. Branding, thus, raises both the quality of the venture project plan and the report (trustworthiness) of the application. Franchising is an exceptional case where the general business format type of franchising is actually always together from the brand (Scarborough and Zimmerer, 2006, Chapter 4). Namely, designing an innovative new franchise model specifically well branded should facilitate financing:
P7. Enhanced branding will raise the acquisition of customers early on and later on stages of the venture.
At the moment, there is a lot of documentation concerning the role of branding as a determinant of customer loyalty (Selnes, 1993; Delgado-Ballester and Munuera-Aleman, 2001; Low and Lamb, 2000; Taylor and Hunter, 2003). On the other hand, what is not well recognized is the role of branding in acquiring the first set of customers. Branding will certainly be feebly established in the pre-launch period. Though, in spite of the brand not being entirely manifest, the developing brand can help protect the early customer sales. A few contracts or agreements might be made even ahead of launch. An example, A new venture, Ozforex, an online foreign exchange service, took steps in the in the early years to build credibility. It did this by signing an agreement with the Australian Gift and Homeware association and became the favored supplier of foreign exchange services to its 4,000 members which included exporters and importers. Accordingly, while recognizing a new market is one thing, winning its assurance can be tougher (Derkley, 2007)
P8. Better branding will raise the way-in to suppliers in the early on and later on stages of the venture.
Predominantly with manufacturer's brands, invariably their impact is thrashed out in terms of consumer markets. The awesome interest is in terms of whether manufacturer brands are confidently perceived in the minds of ultimate consumers. Webster (2000), on the other hand, has unlocked a new role for manufacturer's brands that is as influencer on intermediate channels, like wholesaling or retailing. Manufacturer's brands promises to serve from the manufacturer to the retailer. Therefore when the new venture is recognized, a strong brand will assist the small business in its dealings with suppliers. On the other hand, as with P7, the favorable effects of strong branding on future supplier associations also apply, to a less important degree, in the pre-launch phase. Certainly, by definition, firms require to put in place supply arrangements before are launched. Yet again, the pre-launch brand is not completely developed, but there is a little scope for the moderately created brand to influence the pre-launch supply negotiations.
Research in common language refers to a study for knowledge. It could also explain research as a scientific and systematic means to search for important information on a specific topic. However in actual sense, research is an art of scientific exploration (C.R. Kothari, 2004 p. 1). The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English provides the significance of research as “a careful investigation or inquiry especially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge” (The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English, Oxford, 1952, p. 1069)
Redman and Mory has in addition explains research as a “systematized effort to gain new knowledge” (L.V. Redman and A. V.H. Mory, The Romance of Research, 1923, p.10.) A few people believe research like a movement, a movement which is from the known to the unknown. It is in fact a voyage of discover. We all own the essential impulse of curiosity for, when the unknown faces us, we are surprised and our inquisitiveness makes us proud and gain complete and duller understanding of the unknown. This curiosity is the root of all knowledge and the technique, which man utilizes for gaining the knowledge of whatever the unknown, could be regarded as research.
Therefore Research is an innovative contribution to the present store of knowledge making for its development. It is the pursuit of truth with the aid of study, examination, comparison and experimentation. In precise, the investigation for knowledge by objective and systematic technique of finding result to an issue is research. The systematic outlook relating to generalization and the formulation of a theory is also a part of research. Like as the word ‘research' refers to the systematic method consisting of enunciating the problem, formulating a hypothesis, accumulating the facts, information or data, evaluating the facts and arriving at definite conclusions which may be in the shape of solutions towards the related issue or in some generalizations for few theoretical formulation.
My study is being based on the primary research. I have tried to collect data from the managers/ owners of SME's about the importance of different attributes of brand management which are important to them to develop a better image in the market.
Questionnaires were the most appropriate way to collect data from the target audience. Though it was hard to get data from all of the managers and some refused to answer because of time shortage so they were asked the important questions verbally.
Keller's Brand report card is very appropriate method for the analysis of the brand management in LO's but it comes with some limitations when it's applied for the SME's because of certain limitations only few important questions from this report are being asked in this survey.
3.2 Research Philosophy:
As per the Saunders et al (2005) “Research design is the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data in a manner that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure”. As per the Bryman (2004) epistemology is different as the study of the knowledge, research which is based on a sound epistemological outlook will augment the study. While scheming a study, a deep understanding of the philosophical principles of the methodology is vital. There are mainly two theories which are defied to augment social research which are Positivism and Interpretivism.
Bryman (2004) interpretivism is an appropriate methodology to use in areas of social sciences when social structures and managerial behaviour are further being investigated. Furthermore, interpretivist methodologies permit examination of the mind-set, perceptions and behaviors of participant/participants. The subjective personality of social research needs an epistemological approach which will provide dependability and validity of the data so that the study is of some value and also bear the capacity to attach to the present knowledge and, or, recommend some other areas for additional research (Hussey and Hussey 1997).In opposition, to positivist, phenomologists believe that social word is very difficult and is exclusive that can be described merely by the laws of the nature (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2000).For this study the key aim is on interpretivist method which is on the basis of a qualitative research so as to achieve understanding of individual outlook.
As per the Bryman (2004) there are two general philosophical methods to research: the first one is deductive approach and the second is inductive approach. The deductive method is asserted on a hypothesis which is on the basis of a theory which when tested or investigated produces positive negative or null outcomes (Bryman 2004). The inductive method is applied to examine a condition or phenomenon the findings of which might produce a theoretical result (Bryman 2004). This study will employ an inductive method so as to create a theoretical structure for the exploration and function for significance of Brand Management in SME's. The study will investigate both organizational and individual function and insights of branding. This study is investigation of perceptions and understanding, employing qualitative methodology: as per the Daymon and Holloway (2002) an interpretivist outlook is the most suitable to take into account when performing qualitative research.
3.3 Research Design:
The selected methodologies for this study comprises of exploratory research, qualitative and quantitative research so as to attain a sufficient quantity of information and data to help the findings. Patton (2001) also asserts that if there are numerous methodologies take into account for the study it will evade partiality and will also strengthen a study.
3.4 Research Question
The research question of my study is ‘What is the significance of Brand Management in SME's?
My research revolves around this question and I have selected fast food takeaways of west London (Hayes and Uxbridge) in particular for my study due to convince of data gathering.
3.5 Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is an amalgamation of Interview & Questionnaire. The data was obtained with the help of these two means. Qualitative Research gives emphasis to subjective interpretation (Bryman, 2001). Qualitative methodology lets researchers to scrutinize participants in normal settings, which it is supposed that it will produce meaningful data (Daymon and Holloway 2002).As one of the object of this study is to examine significance of Brand Management in SME's, as a result the interpretivist perception was taken into account (Bryman,2001)
Questionnaire has been chosen as a means of data compilation as it assists researcher to enquire in-detail questions and in addition is more valid. As per the Aaker et al (1999) individual face-to-face in-detail questionnaire with participants will help detail examination on the matter of subject. Bryman (2001) also asserts that in detail questionnaire facilitates to examine individual more closely and also monitor emotions, gestures of the individual person. That's why I mentioned this before as well some respondents were asked questions on the spot because of the time constraint.
I had prepared questions in advance but could not carry out the pilot interview due to the time restriction. The questionnaire was certain that the information will be secret enough. The respondents supplied suitable information. Due to the hectic timetable of the respondent, the questionnaires had to be attached early on; however I handled to gain information from the respondents.
3.6 Data Collection (Tools and techniques):
The data for this research was collected as a sensible blend of both secondary and primary data, which were collected from several means as discussed below.
Collection of Primary data:
Primary data was collected through the structured questionnaire
Questionnaire: The various alternatives I had accessible for the objectives of collecting the primary data are mentioned below:
Interviews: Interview was a method applied to attain detail information on the subject, behaviors and attitudes of the interviewee.
Questionnaires/surveys: There are three kinds of questions in a questionnaire, that are open, closed and finally a mixture of both the open and closed questions.
* Open Questionnaires: The open-ended questions let the respondent to give answer in his or her own words. These questions leads to additional information, as the respondents are not abstain from providing their outlook in precise. However the large information so obtained is complex to evaluate. Therefore the information obtained could not be simply generalized.
* Closed Questionnaire: These questions confine the options provided to the respondent and as a result the information obtained turns out to be quite easy for tabulation and interpretation and therefore leading to infinite results.
* Combined questionnaires: with the help of the combined questionnaires, the combination of quantitative and qualitative responses could be attained. Quantitative data helped in balancing and help the qualitative responses, thus providing validity to the data obtained.
Sample Population: - The sample was chosen from the managers of SME of West London (Hayes and Uxbridge). The Sample was chosen from convenience sampling.
* Method: - convenience sampling technique was taken into account
* Sample Size: 80 respondents out of which I only got responses from 42 people.
3.7 Structure of Questionnaires
The questionnaire passed through two reviews prior to sending the absolute one to the audiences. A number of questions were required to be rephrased or differently presented so as to keep respondents provide correct and more summarized answers. Questionnaire needed additional amendments and several blurred questions were also discarded from the questionnaire. These amendments comprise such as rephrasing the statement questions and providing questions in which the respondents is only required to click the option of agree or disagree. This lessens the time duration and also the endeavour for both the authors and the respondents. Open ended questions were also taken into account in the questionnaire so as to identify more in detail about the preference of the respondents and for what reason did they choose the specific option.
3.8 Collection of Secondary data:
The secondary research was taken into account with the help of the collection of secondary data that has been provided in the report as the literature review. The literature review comprises the outlook of various authors and writers on the chosen dissertation topic which is significance of Brand Management in SME's. The information pertinent to the topic has only been taken in the report.
3.9 Reliability and Validity of Data
The requisite data has been collected by taking into account the numerous methods. To begin with, the primary data was gathered in assistance with the interviews and Questionnaire. The questions which were taken into account in amid the procedure were designed on the basis of the aim in mind and to acquire highest information in as short time duration and with least attempt. The quota sampling method was applied in this condition so as to attain the same representation of parameters in the primary research technique. This data was initially recorded and then applied for the objective of secondary research.
3.10 Limitations of Research
The vital disadvantage was that of too much information that had to be applied in regards to significance to the study. In the commencement this information has almost puzzled the researcher. As a result, the process of sifting the important material out of the non important material was quite time taking. While on the other hand, it was not a simple task to attain information out of a number of people as connections to their personal preferences and little additional official information in relation to SME as well. As a consequence, the research needed extra time to carry out further research.
DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION
This chapter will represent items of the questioners in tabular form followed by graphical representation and descriptive details of the results.
4.2 Graphical representations of the questions
4.2.1. What is the importance of Brand image for a small business?
I don't know
In this question I wanted to know the importance of brand image for a small business and I came to know that 58% of the respondents felt that it is very important and 24% felt that it is important. 8% stated that they don't know or ignorant about this fact. 10% stated that they do not feel it to be important.
4.2.2. Would you compromise on profits to build a better brand image in order to get more customers and steady income?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to know if the respondents feel that brand image is more important then profit or if by building brand by scarifying profit can get more customers. 90% stated that this is true that they would be willing to spare the profit for building brand image to get more customers. 6% did not want to comment as they stated it that they do not know. Only 4% were not willing to part with profit to build brand image. Some of the respondents stated that they would like to do so but they are not in a position of affording it right now.
4.2.3. We understand the attitudes of our customers and their changing views and needs?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to see how well do the respondents know about there customer needs and I saw that 66% stated that they know well about there customers and 24% stated that they almost know about there customer needs. 8% stood neutral and 2% people stated tat they didn't know about the customer needs. Few owners responded that it doesn't matters in small businesses as we cannot compete with high profile companies like KFC and McDonalds.
4.2.4. Do visual identifications (display of logo in shop, ambiance, lighting effects, music) make any difference in business?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to know does visual identification play a role in the business. According to the respondents 66% said that yes it makes a difference and only 10% stated that there is no impact due to visuals. Most of the positive respondents had logo displays in there shop and accessories like tissues boxes and bags in their shop which shows that they also apply this phenomenon in their businesses.
4.2.5. Our business keeps on improving visual identification.
I don't know
I wanted to know here whether currently the respondents are using visual or improving on Visuals in order to attract more customers. I saw that 42% stated that it is very important and 24% stated that it is important. 22% stated that they are neutral and 12% stated that they do not improvise on visual.
4.2.6. We market our business in Food Exhibitions and conventions?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to know if they are using any promotional activity to brand there product and 64% stated that yes they take parts in food exhibition and conventions. Some of them also replied that market their business in monthly magazines which are sponsored by the South hall. 34% stated that they do not take part or promote through this source as there are a lot of takeaways in the high streets so quality matters more.
4.2.7. We have a proper logo (registered logo) for our business and accessories and packaging (Tissues, Cups, Plates and Boxes) and we are known by our logo. ?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to know if the respondents go for Logo building and how well are they known due to logo and other branding activity. 84% stated that they are known for the logo but as a matter of fact my perception is their logos were quite simple which did not reflect uniqueness of the restaurant. 8% said that they have not looked at this and have never thought about it. 8% stated that the branding tools do not depict there companies brand in front of customers and the reason was almost every takeaways has same logo with slightly little differences of colors and fonts.
4.2.8. Our communications, marketing, service delivery, finance and HR functions are all aligned with our brand objectives?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
60% stated that all the departments are aligned with the brand objectives and 6% stated that they don't know. 34% stated that the different departments are not aligned with the brand objectives. My personal view on this question is that as most of them had only one person running all of these departments because of the shortage of the finances so we can say that yes 60% of them gave the honest answer. 34% who were not aligned may be because of the fact that they do not consider different factors of brand management in the development of the business.
4.2.9. Our branding strategies are proactively driven. They do not depend on what our competitors are up to?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to know if the companies actively view competitor's action. I got from the responses that only 38% of them stated that they do not follow what competitors do. They do all by themselves. 2% stated that they do not know. 60% stated that they follow the competitor's action and are also proactive in branding strategies. Most of the respondents were seen competing on the special offers on food.
4.2.10. If our brand did not exist, the vast majority of our customers would notice our absence and really miss having us in their lives?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to see if the respondents feel that brand make a difference in building there identity. 46% stated that yes it makes a difference. 18% said that they do not know. And 32% stated that it does not make a difference in their existence. This result cannot be confirmed because of the fact that this item is more from customer perspective so responses from the customers will really finalize that which brand is important in their daily life.
4.2.11. We assign explicit responsibility to an individual within the organization for monitoring and preserving brand equity?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to know if companies keep a special department for monitoring brand equity. 70% stated that yes they have individuals and only 26% stated no. I would not agree with the results of this question because of the fact small business do not have much funds to afford a employee just for the sake of the marketing purposes but yes this is also a fact that most of these businesses are family based businesses so they can divide the duties among themselves without paying extra money to someone for this job.
4.2.12. We develop detailed knowledge of what customers dislike about our brands?
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
Here I wanted to now if respondent's feedback is taken into account. 90% stated yes and only 8% stated No.2% stated that they do not know. Customer's feedback is an important tool in developing the business as one can evaluate their performances and check the customer satisfaction. Surprisingly most of the respondents had customer feedback cards with their brand and logo with them in their shop though they were not given to every customer for filling them up.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
There has been a missing element in all SME literature which is branding despite of the in-depth coverage of marketing. I went through a lot of SME branding journals and article but all of them talked about the ongoing brand management in existing SME firms. I am certain that there is still a lot of research needed in this sector and I have contributed through my research some part to it.
In my research I have tried to find out Importance of Brand Management in Sme's. I used the qualitative method and created eight propositions in literature through the help of journals and hen saw how relevant it is in the findings. Thou I found 8 propositions but could not integrate which one are more important. Firstly I saw that the entrepreneurs play a very vital role in the public relationship as there branding growth strategy. Secondly SME's look forward for corporate identity, values and culture as an important factor even in there early stages. These can also be stated as Business model for SME's. The limitation on this project that I felt was the conceptual modeling. The qualitative alone did not help as the 8 concept in literature needed to be supported by quantities, so I included it to test the theory through questionnaires. The responses were good and I saw a lot of connection in my response in connection to literature.
In today's competitive market I have seen that every company needs to keep an eye on the competitor's strategies. From the response from one of the question in the questionnaire I have seen that competitors follow on much needed and currently companies are following on what is happening and new with competitors. Following table shows that 42% feel that the company's strategies are not build only by themselves but is decided on the competitor's actions.
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
I also saw that SME's look at the customers and understanding there needs as one of the branding strategy.
Almost always true
I don't know
Never or Seldom True
I saw that 66% stated that they know well about there customers and 24% stated that they almost know about there customer needs. 8% stood neutral and 2% people stated tat they didn't know about the customer needs.
It was also obvious that SME's have a close connection with the customers which proves to be an advantage to them for build better relationship and brand image. They are also more flexible, responsive to change and are more innovative then any f the large firms. The have the best tool for creating branding for there company which is the word of mouth and can utilize personnel social and business terms for gathering information and idea testing. It is similar to what I saw in literature which is “Some researchers suggest that it is difficult to disentangle such networking and relationship building from entrepreneurial action, and thereby imply that marketing orientation goes to the core of the innovativeness that is essential to SME success” (Carson, 1999; Carson and McCarton-Quinn, 1995; Gilmore et al., 2001; Hill, 2001a, b; Stokes, 2000).
I also saw some of the different branding ethics like product branding and corporate branding. Here in SME they follow majorly the product branding. They do not want to spend huge sum of money on branding promotions and advertisements. They believe in giving service quality and to build customer relationship by providing them with personnel touch in there product offering.
Following are some of the Strategy which I would recommend to the SME industry to build there brand in the customer's mind.
* SME's should build in interactive Web site which would help them updating the customers and updating the business activities.
* SME's should start promoting themselves online and should take feed back online from customers which other potential customers can read. This will increase there product visibility and would end up building Product branding.
* Getting responses from Blogs and social networks and to change according to the needs of the customers.
* Promote and start into small promotional campaign like small exhibition and functions in local area.
* As I concentrated on the take away, I would recommend them to offer small discounts to local university and schools.
* Should build in customer e-mail id and Phone number data bank and should send information and thanks on regular interval.
* Should keep in mind the visual Identification and should follow it in long run, like the color of walls, employee uniforms, lights. Packaging material, accessories etc.
* Should follow in getting strong brand identity for the Logo which they carry.
5.4 Limitations of Research
My study has several limitations which are related to the survey research methodology. The questionnaire used for this study is a mixture of 3 different authors so there is a possibility of developing a better questionnaire for the research. A second main limitation is the time constraint. As no pilot survey was conducted before the study. Another major limitation is the sample size was very less as only Hayes and Uxbridge high street takeaways were considered for the research and questionnaires were given to 80 takeaways out of which I got response from only 42 including the respondents of open ended questions. This could be a limitation in terms the amount of data that I could have collected and analyzed.
Another major constraint was that this concept is relatively new in small medium enterprises so there has not a lot of research being done in this area which limits the literature itself.
5.5 Future Research Possibilities
As my research is not a detailed research and still there are a lot of factors which can be considered and can be discussed in detail I would recommend other researchers to work close on the topics of how to market and brand a business in limited resources. Another stream can be how small businesses can use visual identifications of there business to retain customers. Another study can only focus what does a brand means for an SME. in short this is an under researched area and I have tried to work on it my level best and I hope it will be helpful for future researchers.
I saw Yaro Starak, stating some of the important advantage for SME over any company or competitor. According to him we ourselves are the competitive advantage which cannot be replicated. It depends on us how we are developing a business and how we are treating our customers (Starak, 2005). Whatever we have for the business one should try to utilize it for marketing and branding the business. Branding is the concept which attracts customers and helps a business to grow.
Small things can be very useful in creating a brand image and brand identity of the business. The better the glamour and look of the business the better is the customer perception. Though quality of the product should always be given importance and in takeaways food is your product and it should be given importance than anything else.
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