Importance of Brand Management in SME’s
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Published: Thu, 22 Feb 2018
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.<
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