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Comparisons of media types and congruence in positioning of service brands

Charles Blankson (Department of Marketing and Logistics, College of Business, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA)
Stavros P. Kalafatis (Department of Strategy, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK)
Stanley Coffie (GIMPA Business School, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Accra, Ghana)
Markos H. Tsogas (Department of Business Administration, University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 13 May 2014



The purpose of this paper is to undertake a comparative examination of the media types used in projecting positioning strategies of service brands, and to establish whether there is evidence of congruence/fit between managerial decisions, adopted communications and target audience perceptions of positioning strategies of the brands. The relative congruence among intended, conveyed and perceived brand positions is an important research task. Also, how to ensure such synergy and minimize incongruence is an important research question both to theory and to practice.


Following extensive review of the literature, triangulation research method (face-to-face long interviews, survey and content analysis) characterized this study.


The findings reveal that overall parity between the three media (TV; newspaper; and pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and billboards) is evident in terms of failure to translate managerial decisions into corresponding positioning messages. The findings also show that fit or congruence between managerial decision and communicated message fails to deliver the desired message in 19 per cent of the observations. Further 23 per cent of the adopted strategies are neither present in communications nor perceived by the target audience. Irrespective of a positioning strategy being adopted or not, there is total congruence/fit between messages in newspapers and target audience’s perceptions, while the corresponding results for TV and other media are moderate. Moreover, channels for positioning offerings can be multifaceted and they do not strictly have to occur via communications. Only “brand name” positioning strategy demonstrates total fit, while “top of the range” shows high frequency of failure to translate managerial decisions into appropriate communication messages.


This paper offers useful insights into the overall differences between the three media (TV; newspaper; and pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and billboards) in the positioning of service brands. The study is a step forward in the diagnosis of the congruence/fit or coherence in the positioning activities between managers, firm practices and consumers’ perceptions. Without this knowledge, executives may encounter difficulties and challenges in their efforts at establishing, maintaining or reframing market “positions” for their offerings.



The authors are most grateful to the anonymous JPBM reviewers for their insight, very constructive criticisms, and all the suggestions and directions on an earlier version of this manuscript. They thank the editors for their directions and patience. The authors also thank the executives who freely gave them audience for the interviews and the CIM for helping with data collection. This paper benefited a lot from comments and suggestions received at the annual Kingston University Business School faculty research symposium. This study was partially supported by faculty research small grant offered to the first author by the Chair, Department of Marketing & Logistics, University of North Texas.


Blankson, C., P. Kalafatis, S., Coffie, S. and H. Tsogas, M. (2014), "Comparisons of media types and congruence in positioning of service brands", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 162-179.



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