Business-To-Business Brand Management: Theory, Research and Executivecase Study Exercises: Volume 15

Cover of Business-To-Business Brand Management: Theory, Research and Executivecase Study Exercises
Subject:

Table of contents

(16 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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The research and the authors spotlighted in this book represent a series of recent exciting developments in the topic of business-to-business (B2B) branding. The papers in this book enhance our understanding of practice in this important facet of the marketing discipline. Furthermore, each author presents areas for future research and important managerial implications. The papers in this book cover a broad spectrum of industries and continents as well as both product and service offerings. The papers address a wide range of B2B applications including resellers, retailers, logistics service providers, subcontractors, hairdressing services, and a producer of high-tech materials. In addition, two papers address branding in B2B markets and pricing more generally. These papers provide details of the research background, methodology, analysis of each study. The topic coverage of this volume is extensive as the following list shows: (1) Building a Strong B2B Brand; (2) Building a Strong Brand to Resellers; (3) B2B Brand Equity: Theory, Measurement, and Strategy; (4) Effective Strategies for B2B Service Brands; (5) Brand Meaning and its Impact in Subcontractor Contexts; (6) Brand Image, Corporate Reputation, and Customer Value; (7) Internal Branding Theory, Research, and Practice; (8) Pricing Theory and Strategy Applications in B2B Brand Management.

Collectively these papers address most aspects of the marketing mix for B2B and industrial marketers. Each of the papers provides valuable brand management insights for managers.

In part because of the complexity and large risks involved, branding plays an important role in business-to-business (B2B) markets. Although marketers of B2B brands must do many of the things that marketers of any kind of product or service must do, six guidelines that are more unique to B2B settings can be defined.

First, the entire organization should understand and support branding and brand management. Employees at all levels and in all departments must have a complete, up-to-date understanding of the vision for the brand and their role. A brand mantra – a short three- to five-word summary of the essence of a brand – can help with this vertical and horizontal alignment.

Second, a corporate branding strategy should be adopted if possible with a well-defined brand hierarchy. Ideally, sub-brands would be created that combined a well-known and highly credible corporate brand name with descriptive product modifiers.

Third, to avoid falling into a commoditization trap, sufficient differentiation must be established to justify price premiums. To sustain that premium, it may be necessary to “frame” value perceptions to ensure that customers appreciate a brand's differences. Fourth, one often overlooked means of differentiation is to link brands to relevant non-product-related brand associations related to customer service, well-respected customers, or clients, etc.

Fifth, emotional associations related to a sense of security, social or peer approval, and self respect can also be linked to the brand and serve as sources of brand equity. Finally, customers must be carefully segmented both within and across companies and tailored marketing programs developed for these different segments.

Adopting these six guidelines will increase the likelihood of creating a strong B2B brand, reaping all the benefits that such an achievement entails.

This paper focuses on the role of manufacturer brands for resellers within retail channels. This topic is important because of the strategic value of manufacturer brands and the increasing influence of resellers within channels of distribution. Much of the branding research emphasizes a customer-brand knowledge perspective; however, emerging perspectives suggest that brands are also relevant to other stakeholders including resellers. In contrast, channels research recognizes the manufacturer sources of market power, but does not consider the impact of manufacturer “push and pull” strategies within channels. Existing theoretical frameworks, therefore, do not address the reseller perspective of the brand. As a result, the research approach is a multi-method design, consisting of two phases. The first phase involves in-depth interviews, allowing the development of a conceptual framework. In the second phase, a survey of supermarket buyers on brands in several product categories tests this framework. Structural equation modeling analyzes the survey responses and tests the hypotheses. The structural model shows very good fit to the data with good construct validity, reliability, and stability. The findings show that manufacturer support, brand equity, and customer demand reflect the manufacturer brand benefits to resellers. A key contribution of this research is the development of a validated scale on manufacturer brand benefits from the point of view of a reseller. This research shows that the resources that relate to the brand, not just the brand name itself, create value for resellers in channel relationships.

In the literature on product branding, significant attention is given to brand equity in the consumer context, but relatively little attention is paid to the application of the concept in the business-to-business (B2B) context. Even less research exists on the role of brand equity in the retailing context. Retailers are often seen as irrelevant to the source of brand value, resulting in manufacturers not targeting retailers to help them build stronger brands. Potential occurs, therefore, for some channel conflict to exist between manufacturers and retailers. On the one hand, retailers tend to focus on building their own, private brands to differentiate themselves from other retail competitors and to increase their power in relation to manufacturer brands. At the same time, most retailers still need to create a good image in the consumer marketplace by selling famous, manufacturer-branded products. In other words, retailers often have to sell famous brands even if they would prefer to sell other brands including their own. Manufacturers tend to focus their brand-building efforts on the consumer market to entice consumers to insist that retailers stock their brands, rather than placing any real emphasis on building a strong and positive brand relationship with the retailer directly.

The failure to manage the firm's brand successfully with trading partners is a potentially fatal obstacle to success in today's hypercompetitive global economy. Strong brands serve as an important point of differentiation for firms, assisting customers in their evaluation and choice processes. Considerable research exists on the branding of consumer goods, and the literature on business-to-business (B2B) brands and service brands is increasing. However, research on branding in the context of B2B services is relatively sparse. This paper integrates research in B2B brands and service brands to explore B2B service brands. The paper reports a multiple methods study of brands and brand management in the logistics services industry as a specific case of B2B service branding. The study addresses two research questions that are relevant for B2B service brands. First, how are brands perceived when the customer is an organization rather than an individual? Second, how do brands differentiate intangible offers that customers often consider as commodities? The first study reports data collected in an exploratory investigation comprised of depth interviews with representatives of logistics services firms and customers. The study supports the extendibility of Keller's brand equity framework into the B2B services context. The second study tests the framework using data collected in a mail survey of logistics service providers and customers. Results suggest that brands do differentiate the offerings of logistics service providers and that brand equity exists for this commodity-like B2B service. However, findings reveal differences in perceptions between service providers and customers. Specifically, brand image is a stronger influence on customers' perceptions of service providers' brand equity, whereas brand awareness is a stronger driver of the service providers' perceptions of their own brand equity. The paper discusses implications of these differences for managing B2B services.

Brand management in industrial markets is an important subject. The relative youth of this interest implies gaps in the understanding of the phenomenon, though. With regard to the emphasis on brands in today's competitive markets, improving the understanding of brand meaning and impact in diverse industrial situations and organizations is valuable to both management and theory. This paper adds to the expansion of such insights by applying the notion of brands to subcontractors; their market offer and situation. An overview of the brand concept and brand research in industrial markets directs the discussion. The chapter reports on a qualitative study with the aim to support better comprehension of the meaning and impact of brands in a subcontractor context. The study focuses on buyers' decision-making processes. Customers, although they ultimately focus on product price and quality, rely on corporate brand image for making decisions at several stages of purchasing. Buyers normally face a situation where they must choose among a number of potential suppliers, where they perceive uncertainty and limits regarding time and information. In the process of finding and selecting suitable suppliers, subcontractor corporate brands therefore revolve around proxies for expertise and reliability. A focus on subcontractor brand management can render benefits to individual suppliers concerning the amount of potential clients and signed contracts. Also, paying more attention to corporate brand meaning and content can improve the efficiency of matching buyers with supplier.

Companies in all industries are searching for new sources of competitive advantage since the competition in their marketplace is becoming increasingly intensive. The resource-based view of the firm explains the sources of sustainable competitive advantages. From a resource-based view perspective, relational based assets (i.e., the assets resulting from firm contacts in the marketplace) enable competitive advantage. The relational based assets examined in this work are brand image and corporate reputation, as components of brand equity, and customer value. This paper explores how they create value. Despite the relatively large amount of literature describing the benefits of firms in having strong brand equity and delivering customer value, no research validated the linkage of brand equity components, brand image, and corporate reputation, simultaneously in the customer value–customer loyalty chain. This work presents a model of testing these relationships in consumer goods, in a business-to-business context. The results demonstrate the differential roles of brand image and corporate reputation on perceived quality, customer value, and customer loyalty. Brand image influences the perception of quality of the products and the additional services, whereas corporate reputation actions beyond brand image, estimating the customer value and customer loyalty. The effects of corporate reputation are also validated on different samples. The results demonstrate the importance of managing brand equity facets, brand image, and corporate reputation since their differential impacts on perceived quality, customer value, and customer loyalty. The results also demonstrate that companies should not limit to invest only in brand image. Maintaining and enhancing corporate reputation can have a stronger impact on customer value and customer loyalty, and can create differential competitive advantage.

This chapter examines the topic of internal branding from an organizational/behavioral science perspective, theoretically and empirically investigating how organizational members actually enact corporate brands. A mixed-method research procedure serves to surface conscious (i.e., deliberate) and unconscious (i.e., tacit) internal brand meaning enactments in an internationally operating Austrian corporate business-to-business (B2B) brand. The results are an evidence of the potential complexity of real-life internal branding processes that limit the possibility of achieving a cohesive intended internal implementation of corporate brands. The chapter concludes with the managerial implication that purposeful managerial interventions necessitate an understanding of the social system that is the target of the internal branding initiative

This paper includes an examination of two key issues on price decisions: (1) how should price decisions be made (the strategic and normative issue) within market contexts, and (2) how are price decisions actually made (the execution and implementation of price decisions). The paper closes with some observations useful for applied research and strategies for making effective pricing decisions. The propositions and literature review show that one pricing strategy does not fit a brand in all market contexts that brand executives experience annually in managing brands. Setting specific price points requires continuing deliberate management responses to dynamic market contexts. This paper provides useful sense-making conjunctive steps to accomplish such deliberate thinking effectively relevant for different market contexts.

Subject index

Pages 487-489
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Cover of Business-To-Business Brand Management: Theory, Research and Executivecase Study Exercises
DOI
10.1108/S1069-0964(2009)15
Publication date
2009-06-11
Book series
Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-84855-671-3
eISBN
978-1-84855-671-3
Book series ISSN
1069-0964