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.
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.
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. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-10-2017-1645
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