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Strategic brand association maps: developing brand insight

Brian D. Till (School of Business Administration, Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Daniel Baack (Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Brian Waterman (Waterman Research Solutions, LLC, St Louis, Missouri, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 19 April 2011




The primary purpose of this paper is to illustrate a new methodology for gaining actionable, strategic insight into a brand's associations and its competitive uniqueness vis‐à‐vis key competitors.


The authors integrate free association protocols, response latency, and more conventional scale items to develop a strategic overview of a brand's associations and to depict brands' strategic meaning in a comprehensive visual presentation.


The authors show, via an example featuring peanut butter brands, how their methodology effectively uncovers associations that the market has for the brands and how strong, unique, relevant, and favorable those associations are.

Research limitations/implications

This methodology is most appropriate for four to six brands at a time.

Practical implications

The strategic brand association map process demonstrated provides managers with a very clear, consumer‐driven, strategic view of the associations their brand has, and how those associations may (or may not) be serving to differentiate their brand. Additionally, these strategic brand association maps serve as an excellent diagnostic as to the overall health of a brand and can provide actionable insight for better understanding strategic reasons why a particular brand may be under‐performing against expectations.


Brand associations are one of the fundamental cornerstones of brand value. Brand associations serve to differentiate and create meaning for brands. Better understanding and managing a brand's associations is a fundamental role of brand managers. This process illustrates a new way to give brand managers strategic, consumer‐driven insight into their brand's associative network.



Till, B.D., Baack, D. and Waterman, B. (2011), "Strategic brand association maps: developing brand insight", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 92-100.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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