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Brand building in software SMEs: an empirical study

Jukka Ojasalo (Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Espoo, Finland)
Satu Nätti (Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland)
Rami Olkkonen (Department of Marketing, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Turku, Finland)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to increase the knowledge of brand building in software SMEs.


The empirical method used is a multi‐case study. Data were collected from 20 companies in the software industry through in‐depth interviews. The data were analyzed using systematic coding and categorization of qualitative evidence.


The study identified five special characteristics of brand building in software SMEs, relating to goals and perceived benefits of brand building; resources in brand building; external and internal cooperation in brand building; means and communication in brand building; and the process of product brand building and its connection to software product development.

Research limitations/implications

The scientific contribution of this empirical study relates to two aspects of brand management: branding in software business and branding in SMEs. A vast amount of literature exists on “brands”, “software business” and “SMEs”, but there is very little on “branding in software business” or “branding in SMEs”. Unarguably, there are two significant knowledge gaps in the literature, and they relate to branding in software and SME industries. Both theoretical and managerial knowledge is needed. This study corresponds to this need by increasing the knowledge of brand building in software SMEs with an empirical study. The present study is characterized by the general limitations of a case study. The results lack statistical reliability, they apply primarily in the case companies examined, and no direct generalizations should be made without further quantitative study.

Practical implications

Directors of SMEs often think that branding is just for big companies, but small companies with limited resources can brand their products and services as well. However, the means of branding are often different. The present study encourages SMEs to systematically think of the potential advantages of branding for their business, and develop creative, targeted, and affordable approaches for brand building.


The present empirical study makes an original contribution to the literature by increasing the knowledge of branding in the context of both SMEs and software business.



Ojasalo, J., Nätti, S. and Olkkonen, R. (2008), "Brand building in software SMEs: an empirical study", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 92-107.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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