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The interplay between SME owner-managers and the brand-as-a-person

Edgar Centeno (EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico, Mexico)
Jesus Cambra-Fierro (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain)
Rosario Vazquez-Carrasco (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain)
Susan J. Hart (Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Keith Dinnie (College of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 24 June 2019

Issue publication date: 17 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the largely unexplored conceptualisation of the brand-as-a-person metaphor in small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by examining its potential relation with the SME owner-manager, the pathways to its creation and development and the intuitive nature of this relationship.


A grounded theory approach was used, and data were collected through a set of 36 semi-structured interviews with 30 SME owner-managers in various sectors in Mexico.


The results indicate that SME owner-managers intuitively humanise their brands. The study revealed four pathways to develop the brand-as-a-person metaphor in the SME context: through personality traits, tastes and preferences, abilities and knowledge and values, all suggesting that SMEs’ brand-as-a-person metaphors are largely an extension of their owner-managers.

Research limitations/implications

The paper presents a theoretical framework that illustrates the four pathways to the creation and development of brand-as-a-person that are derived from the brand’s relationship with the SME owner-manager. The results of cross-industry semi-structured interviews are limited to a single culture context.

Practical implications

SME owner-managers should first undertake an introspective personal assessment of their intuitive and conscious decision-making, as SME owner-managers often make decisions in an intuitive way. The results suggest that they should act in a more conscious, responsible and rational way when formulating their brand strategies.


This is the first study to clarify the profound influence of SME owner-managers’ personal characteristics, including personality traits, tastes and preferences, abilities and knowledge and values, on the brand-as-a-person metaphor. This study also confirms the intuitive learning strategy formulation of SME owner-managers’ branding practices and SMEs’ need for a more rational approach to branding.



Declaration of conflicting interests: The author(s) declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.


Centeno, E., Cambra-Fierro, J., Vazquez-Carrasco, R., Hart, S.J. and Dinnie, K. (2019), "The interplay between SME owner-managers and the brand-as-a-person", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 555-572.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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