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Exploring the relationship between organizational culture and delivering the promised brand experience: What do we know?
Clive, Helm Purpose of Paper The last fifteen years have seen a growth in the acceptance of the idea of experiential marketing (Pine and Gilmore, 1988, 1989) and an increasing focus by both academics and managers on consumers' brand experience as the source of value for both consumers and organizations (Gronroos, 2007; Prahald and Ramaswamy, 2000, 2004; Wikstrom,1996). In increasingly competitive markets, many companies now see the delivery of a superior branded customer experience not only as a source of competitive advantage but also where mutual value creation occurs for both customers and company - in fact an increasing number of corporations now boast a Director of Customer Experience as a senior level role.
If value creation occurs within customers' experience when they interact with the organization's brand, then it follows that successfully delivering the brand's promised experience to consumers is critical to an organization's ability to create value and gain competitive advantage. However, at the same time of a growing awareness of the importance of delivering a brand experience consistently, there is a realization that in reality this is very difficult to achieve. While many companies are making increasing efforts to deliver their brands' experience seamlessly at every touchpoint throughout the whole customer journey, in practice it appears that only a small proportion of them manage to do this with any degree of consistency. According to a report by consultancy Interbrand (2007), 'Strict adherence to brand standards creates brands with customer impact - but few companies have been able to secure consistent compliance across their organizations.’ The reasons why some organizations are more successful at delivering their brand experience than others appear to be numerous and complex, but there is now a growing body of literature which suggests that aspects of organizational culture and the roles employees play are important factors. However, the nature of the relationship between a company’s culture and its capability to deliver its promised brand experience is still underexplored and, as de Chernatony and Cottam (2008) have pointed out, seems to be complex and little understood.
There is therefore a need to take stock, and the aim of this paper is to review and draw together the main ideas and findings that have emerged so far from this small but growing literature as a starting point for future research. These main findings are summarized, and a model of organizational culture factors that contribute to capability in brand experience delivery is then proposed that is derived from these findings as a basis for moving forward.
Methodology/approach A review is undertaken of the literature on the relationship between organizational culture and capability in delivering promised brand experience. However, although the literature dealing directly with the relationship between culture and brand experience itself is small, a search finds that studies that are relevant also come from two other distinct areas: the literatures that deal with firstly, the relationship between culture and the wider general area of organizational performance, and secondly, the relationship between culture and service quality delivery from the services marketing literature. A model of organizational factors that contribute to successful delivery of brand experience is then proposed that is derived and synthesized from the main findings of the review.
Summary of Main Findings In reviewing the literature on culture and brand experience, the organizational culture literature itself provides a starting point. The review then goes on to look at relevant work from the different areas of literature described above which for the purposes of this abstract are very briefly summarized here.
1. The Relationship Between Organizational Culture and Brand Delivery as an Aspect of Organizational Performance One view of brand experience delivery is that it can be considered to be a non-financial, consumer-based aspect of organizational performance, as suggested by Harris and De Chernatony, (2001). While much of the organizational performance literature focuses on 'hard' measures like market share or economic outcomes such as profitability or return on investment (notably, Kotter and Heskett, 1992), there is some work in this area that can be seen as relevant to delivering brand experience. Reid and Hubbell (2005) for example, have suggested that there are a number of distinct elements of what they describe as 'performance cultures' including a leadership style that emphasises a clearly articulated strategic intent.
Other researchers have also identified aspects of culture that may contribute to organizational performance, including Campbell and Yeung (1991) who suggested that an important factor in achieving common goals was a strong sense of corporate mission where strategy, behaviour and values were seen by employees as being credible. Ke and Wei (2008) identified five dimensions of culture that were shown to help the implementation of a new strategy within an organization. In another study, Schneider et al (1994) suggest that three main platforms for performance are a culture that; 1) has practices and procedures that foster innovation, 2) encourages service excellence through rewarding employees and 3) embodies behaviour that is collaborative, fair and cooperative.
2. The Relationship Between Organizational Culture and Service Quality The services marketing literature that has developed since the 1980s and is now relatively mature, includes a number of studies that are relevant in that they are directly concerned with the relationship between a service organization's culture and its performance in terms of the service quality it delivers to customers.
Webster (1995), for example, found that there was a positive correlation between what is described as a service firm's ‘marketing effectiveness’ and other factors including its employees' customer-orientation. In another study, Curtis and Upchurch (2008) found that recognition of employees' performance and achievements and trying to create an enjoyable working environment through fun social events and opportunities to engage in community volunteerism were particularly important in creating the right culture to deliver high quality service to clients, while Lytle and Timmerman (2006) found that stakeholder belief in the quality of the firm's products and services was critical to employee commitment.
3. The Relationship Between Organizational Culture and Brand Delivery Since the late 1990s, the notions of experiential marketing, and value co-creation, discussed earlier, have emerged. These perspectives have extended the idea of 'service quality' into the wider, more complex and holistic concept of a 'consumer brand experience', which can be made uniquely valuable through meaningful differentiation and seamless delivery to consumers at every point of contact they have with the brand.
The literature on the relationship between culture and brand delivery is small and embryonic.
Nevertheless, there is a broad agreement for example that employees are important in delivering the brand experience and that a high degree of congruence between the values represented by the organization's brand (such as 'integrity', 'youthfulness' or those of its country of origin) and the values inherent in its own culture, is critical to successful delivery (Ind, 1997, De Chernatony, 2002 and De Chernatony and Cottam, 2006). De Chernatony (2002) also found that coherency and clarity of the corporate brand image and values and their communication throughout the organization to all employees were crucial, while De Chernatony and Segal Horn (2003) suggested that a 'ruthlessly clear' vision about the corporate brand and what it stands for was important, as were the values and behaviour of managers as seen by employees. De Chernatony and Cottam (2006) also found that several factors including a high degree of brand literacy amongst managers and employees and a brand ethos that challenged the norm also contributed to successful brand delivery.
Although the literature is fragmented, this review indicates that a number of key findings emerge and that researchers have identified some elements of culture that contribute to
superior brand delivery and performance. These are summarized in the table below:
To conclude, it was found that there are some commonalities and key factors that emerge from the findings of the review which are summarized here. These key findings have been integrated and synthesized to postulate a model of factors in an organization's culture that contribute to successful delivery of brand experience, which is shown below.
Model of Organizational Cultural Factors Contributing to Successful Brand Experience Delivery
Theoretical implications The paper reviews and draws together for the first time key findings from the relevant literatures on this important topic. These findings are summarized and then synthesized to derive a model of cultural factors influencing successful brand experience delivery. This model can act as the starting point for moving forward with future empirical research based on these findings.
Practical implications The model presented here can form the basis for a managerial perspective in providing practical guidance on developing and creating an organizational culture which can deliver brand experience successfully and consistently.
Limitations Although most of the literature reviewed here is based on empirical research such as interviews with managers or consultants, one main limitation that emerges is that the body of literature and empirical work undertaken so far in this field is still small. Given the growing awareness of the importance of successful brand delivery to organizational competitiveness and value creation, this highlights a need for further research in this area to develop and test the model further.
Originality/Value The paper reviews the literature and draws together for the first time the key findings from an emergent literature on an issue that is increasingly seen as critical to organizational competitiveness and value creation. It goes on to derive a model of culture that can be used as the basis for further research in this area and also for managerial decision making.
Key words Brand, Brand Experience, Brand Experience Delivery; Organizational Culture References Campbell and Yeung (1991) Creating a sense of mission. Long Range Planning, vol. 24 (4) pp10-20 Curtis C. R. and Upchurch R. S. (2008) A case study in establishing a positive service culture: attachment and involvement in the workplace. Journal of Retail & Leisure Property vol.7, (2) pp 131–138 De Chernatony L. & Cottam S. (2006) Internal brand factors driving successful financial services brands. European Journal of Marketing, vol. 40, (5/6) pp 611 - 633 De Chernatony L. and Cottam S. (2008) Interactions between organizational cultures and corporate brands. Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol 17, (1) pp13–24 Gronroos C. (2007) Service management and marketing: customer management in service competition. 3e. Hoboken; Wiley Harris F. & De Chernatony L. (2001), Corporate branding and corporate brand performance.
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Alevizou, Panayiota J.
Foster, Caroline Frohlich, Christopher Purpose of Paper The purpose of this research is to investigate how European cities with a major industrial heritage rebrand themselves while remaining consistent with their history. More specifically, this research investigates how Sheffield, UK and Essen, Germany manage and create a brand image and whether they are successful in their efforts to incorporate their stakeholders into the branding process to the extend of being positively perceived.