«of the AM’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation SIG INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SESSIONS Sessions chairs The main function of a session chair is to ...»
Starting with Barney (2001), resources are tangible and intangible assets which a company is using in order to choose and perform its strategies. In order to achieve sustainable competitive advantage on a market, resources should be rare, valuable, long-term, imperfectly substitutable, stable in existence and difficult or even impossible to imitate (Barney 1991, Teece, Pisano & Shuen 1997, Balmer 2008). As an illustration of that, Balmer´s empirical research about the British Monarchy was taken (Balmer 2008), where it is clearly demonstrated and visible that the corporate brand can be a valuable and strategic asset which company is using to improve its well-being and survival on the market. Likewise, for many years now, some academics (e.g. Aaker 1991, Kotler & Keller 2009, Kotler 2003, Morgan & Hunt 1994) accepted corporate brands as critical and main resources for generating sustainable competitive advantage of a company.
However, corporate brand management can be understood as an evolving process of initiating, creating and maintaining sustainable business relationships between internal and external actors of a company (partially taken from Schultz 2007). In fact, as some researchers agreed (see: Leek & Christodoulides 2011, Bengtsson & Servais 2005), corporate brands are important facilitators and moderators of business relationships, in which every company is in some way dependent on other companies in order to achieve goals and survive on the market.
The importance of buyer-seller relationships and networks with their interdependency in B2B markets were first studied in large by the IMP group (Turnbull, Ford & Cunningham 1996).
As an outcome of their first project, An Interaction Approach was presented with a dynamic model of long-term relationships (Håkansson 1982). In fact, the IMP approach has taken business relationships and networks into the forefront of business marketing research where buyer-supplier interaction is a central development function for both efficiency and innovativeness of each company and economy in total (Håkansson & Waluszewski 2013).
Although this approach combines many disciplines, starting from resource-dependence and social-exchange theory, through transaction cost economics and political-economy framework, the importance of a single resource was presented as irrelevant = “passive and without value”, unless there is an interaction where resources are combined and value is created (Håkansson, Ford, Gadde, Snehota & Waluszewski 2009, p. 65). Based on this, the paper is presenting and reviewing “Propositions about the Nature of Resources” from the
Business in Networks book (Håkansson et al. 2009, p. 69-71):
1. “The value of a resource is dependent on connections to other resources.” My proposition would be: The value of a corporate brand in the pre-relationship stage of business relationship is dependent on a corporate reputation in the network and direct and indirect connections with other actors. But the corporate brand is valuable as a resource even before the initial interaction between e.g. buyer and supplier occurs.
2. “A resource changes and develops characteristics over time.” My proposition would be:
The corporate brand changes and develops its identity, image and reputation over time and it is a product of corporate history. But the corporate brand is stable in existence in a sense that it can´t be lost, ´spent´ or totally changed in interaction with other companies.
3. “Every resource is embedded in a multidimensional context.” My proposition would be: The corporate brand is embedded in a multidimensional context of interrelated and interdependent business relationships embedded into a network. The longer the history of a corporate brand is, the higher the number of other companies it has been inter-related to.
4. “All changes of a resource create tensions.” My proposition would be: All changes of a corporate brand identity and reputation in a business landscape will create positive or negative outcomes, both for focal company and its potential and actual business partners.
5. “Interaction intensity influences the effects of a change in a resource.” My proposition would be: Interactions between the companies and their intensity can influence the corporate brand reputation of the focal company in the network. The change in reputation can subsequently influence the corporate identity. Hence, it can result into better understanding and improved characteristics of the corporate brand.
6. “The broadness of interaction influences the number of resources affected by a resource change.” My proposition would be: The broadness of business relationships and interactions between actors influences the corporate brand through its identity and reputation in the network.
Findings This paper is contributing to a branding and marketing literature. First, a corporate brand as a resource view is taken, were companies on the market are competing with each other and aiming for sustainable competitive advantage. As an advantage and valuable resource they recognize the importance of corporate brands. Thus, as a gap in business marketing literature, market is presented as a clear competitive place where companies are working individually and competing with each other.
Secondly, the IMP interactive approach is found to be adding to a gap in marketing literature by introducing business relationships embedded in a network, where it is clearly explained that in order to survive on the market and gain benefits companies shouldn´t compete, but instead, work together - interact. However, the IMP approach is having a gap as well, by presenting all resources as heterogeneous and without value unless interaction occurs. Out of this, it is possible to see missing links and research gaps in each literature. Finally, the research models, as a conceptual synchronization of the IMP interactive approach with the
corporate brand perspective is presented in the Fig 1 as follows:
Figure 1: The importance of Corporate Brands in Pre-relationship stage This conceptual model is a simplified concept focused on a buyer-supplier dyadic relationship in which supplier owns a strong corporate brand. A brand can be valuable even when companies don’t have any previous experience with each other (Leek & Christodoulides 2011). At the same time, it can have an impact on potential relationship by providing a trust in a company based on its reputation in the network. That reputation is attracting a buyer even before interaction occurs, in so-called Pre-relationship stage (Ford 1980). As a first stage of relationship development, the Pre-relationship stage is a time during which a buyer and a supplier are recognizing each other and engaging into partner screening (Warsta, Lappi & Seppänen 2001; Ford 1980), but where at the same time no bilateral interaction of any type occurs (Dwyer et al. 1987).
Eventually, after the partner recognition is accomplished, companies are starting to interact and the corporate brand can be seen both as a reason for interaction and a valuable resource for the future relationship. As a result and the end goal, a buyer-seller relationship embedded in a network is formed with the process of interaction connecting them.
Theoretical implications For researchers, the paper gives a new understanding of corporate brands and a novel approach how to use them to deepen knowledge about business relationships. A new lens is added with the corporate brand being a valuable resource embedded into supplier’s company even before interaction with buyer occurs. As such, it can be used for attracting partners and initiating new relationships. Therefore, the paper is contributing to the IMP interaction approach as well, by adding a new perspective which provides a greater range of possibilities for future empirical research.
Practical implications For practitioners, the paper emphasizes the importance of corporate brands while strategizing on industrial level. It gives a novel interpretation on how to understand B2B relationships and accordingly use brand strategies to accomplish company’s goals. By now, B2B and B2C levels were mostly mixed and unclear for practitioners, especially from the corporate brand´s point of view. Therefore, this paper gives a better understanding on how the corporate brand should be understood and used for improving business, both from the buyer and supplier side.
Limitations Limitations could be seen through relying only on secondary data for confirming theoretical findings. Therefore, the need for future empirical research is inevitable for getting practical evidence. After the empirical research, conceptual models should be adjusted accordingly in order to provide more implications for researchers and practitioners.
Originality/value The research model is presented as a novel perspective towards better understanding of B2B relationships and their connection with corporate brands. At first, the IMP interactive approach is filling a gap in a business marketing literature, after which the new lens is added for the IMP interaction approach as well. Therefore, the paper provides a theoretical contribution for both fields of research. Besides that, the article is providing additional insights on six basic propositions about resources in business interactions (Håkansson et al.
2009) where corporate brands are seen as valuable resources and conceptualized accordingly.
Keywords business marketing, corporate brand, buyer-seller relationships, interaction, resources.
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Individual and collective identity construction in a Niké related brand community Kornum, Niels Gyrd-Jones, Richard Al Zagir, Nadia Brandis, Kristine A.
Purpose and background Brand communities celebrate and co-create the brand (Muñiz and O’Guinn, 2001; Muniz and Schau, 2005) and they are interesting, because they form a center from which a multitude of brand meaning expressions emerge (e.g., Brown, Kozinets and Sherry, 2003; Moradin, Bagozzi and Bergami, 2013). Moreover, involvement in brand community activities leads to a positive relation with the brand (McAlexander et al., 2002; Carlson, 2008) and Ouwersloot and Odekerken-Schröder (2008) find that brand communities are internally heterogeneous, but cannot directly identify the motives behind. Strangely, there is no research from the individual’s perspective that explores the ways in which company brand identity is expressed from a “bottom-up” perspective, i.e. from individual identifications nested within collective identifications; both identifications potentially related to the brand identity.
Brand identity is traditionally conceptualized from an inside-out perspective with brand managers as communicative cores that transmit brand identity to internal and external stakeholders (e.g., Burman, 2008; Aaker 2002, Kapferer 2008). Recent research suggests that (brand) identity creation is a set of social processes where relevant stakeholders enact their own identity and in this process might co-create the brand simultaneously (e.g. de Silveira, et al., 2013; Hemetsberger and Mühlbacher, 2008; von Wallpach, 2009). Hemetsberger and Mühlbacher (2009, pp. 4-5) suggest two “facets of brand identity: intended identity, which is developed by a deliberate, strategic process... and enacted identity, which is emerging through enactment and social discourse”. In this study we identify nested levels of member’s individual and collective identities (da Silveira, Lages and Simões, 2013, p. 33) as they are expressed and emerge through encounters between enacted and intended brand identities and between individual and collective identities (Ibid.).