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Brand strategies of jordanian education


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International Institute for Science, Technology and Education (IISTE) August Edition - International Journals

International Institute for Science, Technology and Education (IISTE) August Edition - International Journals

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  • 1. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 8 Brand Strategies of Jordanian Education Dr. Firas Abu-Qaued School of Business, Middle East University, Jordan-Amman, E-mail: Abstract This article reports on an exploratory investigation into the brand strategy of the educational service providers in Jordan, and thereby contributes to the limited research into brand strategy in both the education sector, and in the Middle-Eastern countries. The study demonstrates the extent to which the evolution of competitive strategy and brand strategy are interwoven, as well as generates a range of insights into successful brand strategies in this marketplace. It specifically responds to calls from other researchers for additional research into brand strategy in the service sector in general, and the online educational service industry more specifically. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with 12 managers with responsibility for branding and/or marketing of education. The interviews explored respondents' views on the nature of brand strategy and components of brand strategy, such as brand positioning, brand personality, brand identity, brand values, brand architecture and education strategy. The discussion and conclusions summarize key findings under the following themes: perspective on and control of brand strategy, branding as a competitive tool, re- branding, brand values and brand education strategies. 1. Introduction This article seeks to contribute to the literature on brand strategy by examining the development of the brand strategy of the four education providers in Jordan. Chan-Olmsteda and Jamison (2001) suggest that the education industry is of particular interest because of the globalization of educational services and the consequences for strategic alliances and competitive strategies. This article focuses specifically on the consequences of such a challenging, global and competitive environment for brand strategy. Brand and brand strategy are widely acknowledged to influence consumer behavior, to create shareholder value (Madden et al. 2006) and impact profits (Keller 2002). Osler (2003) views brand strategy as the translation of the business strategy for the marketplace. However, despite the important role of the service sector in many economies, the branding of services has received less attention than the branding of products. De Chernatony and Segal-Horn (2003) suggest that this lack of attention and consequent lack of services branding knowledge has led to a paucity of successful services brands. A number of authors suggest that there is scope for more research into branding in the service sector (Berry 2000; Moorthi 2002). With the increasing recognition of the importance of a service orientation to marketing, the need for such research is becoming ever more pressing (Brodie 2009). This article seeks to make a modest contribution to the understanding of brand strategy in a service context that has previously received limited attention, the education industry. There is a stream of research into the competitive structure and strategies of the education industry (Singh, 2006). Singh (2006) suggests that new disruptive technologies, new customer segments, deregulation and globalization have made this a difficult market in which to work. Singh (2006, p. #) suggests that 'there is little differentiation between product offerings'. More specifically in the education private sector, although Karjaluoto et al. (2005) found brand to be one of the four key influential factors in affecting consumer choice, Martensen (2007) found that brands were not able to turn tweens into loyal customers who will recommend the private sector education to friends. Together these findings support the proposition that branding in the education sector is both important and challenging. Both Karjaluoto et al. (2005) and Martensen (2007) call for more research into branding in this sector. This article also contributes to knowledge of brand strategy in the Middle East. There is limited research on marketing, more specifically branding, in Middle-Eastern countries, and how this interfaces with, and is influenced by, processes, challenges and approaches in the global marketplace. This article then seeks to contribute to the literature on brand strategy by providing a sector-based case study, and documenting the evolution of brand strategy and associated brand tactics within a competitive environment. From a managerial perspective, this article provides business practitioners with examples of the evolution and unfolding of service brand strategies, illustrating some of the tactics adopted by different companies in one sector. The next section of this article briefly reviews the key characteristics of service branding, draws together definitions of brand strategy and related concepts, as well as summarizes the limited previous research on marketing and branding in the education sector, and on brand strategy in the Middle East. The next section discusses the research design and data collection adopted in this research. This is followed by a section that reports findings. The discussion and conclusion sections draw out the key insights from this research and offer recommendations for further research. 2. Literature Review Branding or brand strategy focuses on the use of brands to achieve the brand owners' objectives. Branding
  • 2. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 9 creates value through the provision of a compelling and consistent offer (the brand promise), backed by a positive customer experience (the brand experience) that will satisfy customers and encourage them to return. This provides an opportunity for building brand relationships, which in turn deliver repeat business, allowing the business to charge premium prices, consolidate the brand positioning and make it more difficult for competitors to launch a successful challenge. The branding process influences consumer behavior, creates shareholder value and builds the value of the brand to the business or its brand equity (de Chernatony & McDonald 2003; Kapferer 2008). Although the education service sector has dominated the economy of most advanced capitalist societies for many years, the branding of these services has only recently started to receive the attention that it deserves. Berry (2000) argues that branding plays a special role in education service organizations because strong brands enable customers to better visualize and understand intangible services. Brand reduces customer's perceived monetary, social or safety risk in buying services, which are difficult to evaluate before a purchase. With services, the source of customer-value creation is the company (rather than the product). Accordingly, service and customer experience of service delivery play a pivotal role in determining customer value and, in turn, brand formation (Berry 2000; Brodie 2009). As with service brands, the customers buy the company brand (Berry 2000), and there is a tight coupling between service branding and corporate branding. Xie and Boggs (2006) define corporate branding in terms of the opportunity for building enhanced trust and relationships: Corporate branding facilitates customers' desire to look deeper into the brand and evaluate the nature of the firm. Trust in the products and a brand the firm offers predisposes customers to accept its claims about other products and services. (Xie & Boggs 2006, p. #) The increasing importance of corporate brands brings in its wake greater emphasis on aligning what an organization says, believes and does, or, to put it another way, integrated brand, communications and experience strategies (Walstrom et al. 2008). The leading brand consultants interviewed by de Chernatony and Dall'Olmo Riley (1998) emphasized the importance of clear, shared and owned brand values; through shared values there is a greater likelihood of commitment, internal loyalty, clearer brand understanding and consistent brand delivery across all stakeholders. Walstrom et al. (2008) suggest that an important means of strengthening the corporate brand is through the reduction of the number of sub-brands. Although service brands and branding are beginning to receive more attention, a number of authors suggest that there is scope for more research into branding in the service sector (Berry 2000; O'Loughlin & Szmigin 2007). In particular, as different service sectors provide different service experiences, it is important to seek an understanding of the nature of brand, and in particular the brand-development process and brand strategies, in a variety of different contexts. Clear and agreed upon definitions of concepts such as brand image, brand personality, brand identity, brand architecture, brand values, brand preference and brand choice would be a sound basis for research into branding and brand strategy. Unfortunately, some of these brand terms overlap, and different authorities take them to mean different things (Ambler & Barwise 1998; Stern 2006). Most significantly, for this study, some authorities discuss brand strategy without defining it (Schreiber 2002; Wu & Ardley 2007). Furthermore, some of the literature describes brand strategy as having a single component (Park et al. 1986), yet other literature (for example, Keller 2002; Kotler & Pfoertsch 2006; Kapferer 2008) describes it as having several components. There is also confusion and vagueness about what brand strategy entails; different authors emphasize different aspects of brand strategy: Murphy (1990) states that brand strategy involves building and managing the brand to differentiate the organization from its competitors by adding value for customers. Kapferer (1992) argues that brand strategy comprises developing the right perception in customers' minds. Aaker (1996) states that brand strategy entails reacting to changes in market conditions. Keller (1998) articulates that brand strategy comprises developing common distinctive features of various products or services provided by an organization. De Chernatony (2001) states that brand strategy entails strengthening the images of different products or services sold by an organization. Drawing on these definitions for the purposes of this article, we define brand strategy as follows: 'Brand strategy is a set of integrated strategies and sub-strategies used by a brand owner to achieve the brand owners' objectives'. Furthermore, in both research design and data analysis we focus on the six components or tactical aspects of brand strategy: positioning, personality, identity, values, architecture and communications. These six components are defined as follows: Brand positioning is the targeting of a specific segment of the market by means of presenting an image aimed at that segment (Keller 2002; Osler 2003; Kotler & Pfoertsch 2006; Kapferer 2008). It involves creating an image in the minds of the consumers about what the brand signifies. Kotler (2003) states that brand positioning is 'the act of designing the company's offer and image so that it occupies a distinct and valued place in the target customers' minds' (p. 308).
  • 3. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 10 Brand personality is the anthropomorphizing of a brand in order to increase its appeal. Giving a brand a personality, or persona, thus involves giving inanimate objects human qualities (Kotler & Pfoertsch 2006; Kapferer 2008). Aaker (1997) defines brand personality as 'the set of human characteristics associated with a brand' (p. 347). Brand identity pertains to the connotations that a brand elicits in the minds of consumers (Aaker & Joachimsthaler 2000; Keller 2002; Kapferer 2008). Aaker and Joachimsthaler (2000) define brand identity as 'a set of associations that the brand strategist aspires to make or maintain' (p. 43). Aaker (1997) distinguishes between core and extended identity, where core identity represents the 'timeless essence of the brand' (p. 85) and extended identity includes 'elements that provide texture and completeness' (p. 87). Brand values pertain to what a brand could offer in terms of benefits (Osler, 2003; de Chernatony et al. 2004). Osler (2003) defines brand values as 'those immutable characteristics that provide a consistency for the brand's behavior' (p. 437). Brand architecture refers to how a brand is promoted within the context of other brands produced by the same company or organization (Aaker & Joachimsthaler 2000; Osler 2003); Petromilli et al. (2002) define brand architecture as 'the way in which companies organize, manage and go to market with their brands' (p. 23). Education strategy pertains to all of the ways by which an organization promotes a brand (Ind 1997; Madhavaram et al. 2005). Ind (1997) states that education strategy involves the making of a plan based on a brand identity. Education strategy means a brand image that enables education organization to meet its strategic objectives. The specific context for this research is the education industry in Jordan. There has been very little research into branding in the education sector or the Middle East. With regard to education, there is plenty of evidence that this is an interesting and challenging competitive environment (Chan-Olmsteda & Jamison 2001; Singh 2006). Singh (2006) goes further and specifically suggests that 'there is little differentiation between product offerings' (p. #), which would imply that there may be a central role for brand factors affecting choice between brands. The market in many other Middle Eastern countries has some similarities with the marketplace in Jordan. However, their discussion focuses on customer loyalty, rather than brand strategy. Both Karjaluoto et al. (2005) and Martensen (2007) call for more research into branding in this sector. There is also a scarcity of research into brands and branding in the Middle East. Only three studies have been identified. Balakrishnan (2008) studied destination branding for Dubai. Cooperman and Schechter (2008) examined the globalization of the Marlboro County brand to appeal to the new middle classes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, through the development of an image of the 'global citizen-consumer'. Finally, Badri et al. (1995) explored the extent and nature of 'country-of-origin' stereotyping in the Gulf States market. However, recent contributions on the impact of religious beliefs and culture on consumer response to marketing initiatives are of some relevance to our study of branding. Gibbs and Ilkan (2008) found that although there were differences between the Islamic and Christian communities in Cyprus, positive and forward-looking images would stimulate most respondents, irrespective of faith or culture. Sandikci and Ekici (2009), in the context of politically motivated brand rejection in Turkey, illustrate the importance of predatory globalization, chauvinistic nationalism and religious fundamentalism in brand acceptance and choice. This article seeks to make a contribution to the understanding of brand strategy in the education sector, and thereby offer insights into the dynamics of brand strategy and the interplay between brand components in the evolution and development of brands. Specifically, this study advances knowledge in areas of services branding wherein there has been very limited previous work: the education industry in the Middle East. 3. Methodology 3.1 The Case-Study Context This article is based on a case study of the brand strategies and practices in the education sector in Jordan. The choice of this sector is justified on three grounds: First, the education sector in Jordan is four or five decades old; therefore, the development of the industry may be examined in microcosm, in 'pure' form. Next, there has also been intense competition within the Jordanian Education sector, with some organizations performing much better than others and, lastly, brand strategy appears to have played an important role in this. There is evidence from prior research in the education sector of a strong association between brand strategy and performance (Liu 2002; Schoenfelder & Harris 2004). Jordan has two education sector providers: Ministry of Education (private and public) and Ministry of Higher Education (public and private colleges and universities). Based on the most recent statistics, the market share is roughly 70 per cent for Ministry of Education (1), and 30 per cent for Ministry of Higher Education (2) (all statistics from companies' websites). Ministry of Education entered the Jordanian market in 1939 (3). Ministry of higher education entered the Jordanian market much later in 1985 (4). The Harvard Business Journal (2009) reports that the education sector, especially the private sector industry, in Jordan is healthy. The private sector is one of the largest earners in the country's education sector, and is itself
  • 4. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 11 worth some US$ 2 billion. The group also reports that some 70 per cent of Jordanian households currently have a college degree and that the success of the industry in Jordan owes much to the government's policy of liberalization of the education industry. However, many wealthy individuals and government officials are increasingly controlling the private education sector. Internet use in education is high. The Harvard Business Journal suggests that if the government is to achieve its stated aim of 50 per cent education via Internet use by 2014, further liberalization will be necessary. 3.2 Research Design and Data Collection This study uses the case-study approach to investigate education sector providers' brand strategies (see Dentin and Lincoln 2005). The case-study approach may cast light on individual managers' experiences with brand strategies; the approach is also well suited to establishing managers' perceptions of brand strategy as a whole. The approach has been discussed before by many researchers and methodologists (for example, Yin 2003; Stake 2006). This study investigated the two educational service providers or branches in Jordan (that is, the Ministry of Education (private and public) and Higher Education Ministry (private and public). Data on each of the sectors was gathered primarily through semi-structured interviews with those senior managers who had responsibility for marketing, branding and education in each of the two sectors or branches. Participants were selected with a view of providing insight into the process of brand strategy development (see, for example, Creswell 2007). An interview schedule was designed and piloted in both English and Arabic. The main sections of the interview schedule related to the definition of brand strategy, the elements of brand strategy (including brand identity, personality, value, architecture and education strategy), and the position of brand strategy within the organization. Participants were also asked to provide a history of their company, not only in terms of its origins and performance, but also in terms of the particular problems it faced (and faces) and the particular decisions it made (and makes) in solving them. In all, 20 managers were approached, of whom 15 managers agreed to participate. They expressed interest in the subject once the purposes of the study were explained to them. 3.3 Data Analysis Understanding brand strategy development at the level of decision-making required two types of analysis, both following the general procedures of case-study research (Creswell 2007). The first was a within-case analysis. The second was cross-case analysis of themes revealed by the first analysis. 4. Findings This section summarizes the key findings from the interviews, with respondents in each of the two branches. An overview of each branch is first offered, which is followed by brand strategy and then by further details of the tactics that were used to support the strategy. 4.1 Ministry of Education The Ministry of Education was the first branch of education service provider in Jordan, starting in 1939 under the brand name Ministry of Education. The minster of education was established in 1985 as Jordan's first education branch. Since then, it has grown considerably. It currently has a presence in every single part of the country; it is the market leader in Jordan and many neighboring countries such as the Gulf countries. Ministry of Education is also the only education provider in the Arab world in terms of geographic presence. It currently provides education service to 2.2 million students (all statistics from Ministry of Education 2012). 4.2 The Ministry of Education Brand Strategy Ministry of Education respondents agreed that, broadly, brand strategy involves formulating a set of plans aimed to realize the ministry objectives. One respondent also commented on image, and another mentioned managing the complexity of a brand. The respondents also agreed that Ministry of Education aims to be a major regional government provider by 2015, and that the Ministry’s brand strategy focuses on high quality education and up- to-date services, while aspiring to the mass market. Thus, they agreed that the Ministry’s brand strategy fosters a perception of high-quality education services, with a view towards dominating the Jordanian and, in time, the Middle Eastern and regional markets. From 1985 onwards, the period during which other players in education like Ministry of Higher Education, public and private colleges and skilled and training colleges entered the Jordanian market, the Ministry of Education strengthened its brand image and positioning in response to aggressive competition. From 1980 to 2000, it presented itself as a 'pioneer', and thereby a leader, and as the first in the education sector in Jordan. Over time, the Ministry of Education brand strategy has remained largely unchanged. The only major shift came in 1999 when the Ministry changed its brand identity by re-branding itself to cope with the demand of technology globally. Largely, the Ministry’s top leaders formulate the brand strategy. Thus, the strategy was formulated and implemented in a largely top-down manner, and branding for technology services and Internet services is integrated. One manager explained: Our brand strategy is driven by what our Ministry wants to achieve and by the nature of the market that
  • 5. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 12 we operate in. For example, here in Jordan, we would like to increase the number and the quality of education services through the country. At the same time we try to increase the value of our services and teachers to our current students and parents. (Marketing Manager, Ministry of Education) The Ministry of Education developed a persona to appeal to Jordanian values. This persona is a blend of traditional family values and cultural values. On the one hand, the Ministry of Education came up with slogans such as students are the leaders of tomorrow and we care about building professionals, which portrayed it as a family member, and on the other it portrayed itself as a socially responsible regional citizen. The Ministry made philanthropic gestures in Jordanian education, health, sport and community development, and ensured that all Jordanians knew about these gestures. The entry of the Ministry of Higher Education and the spread of the higher education private sector made the Jordanian market more competitive. Private schools and colleges, in particular, competed on price and quality. In response, the Ministry of Education re-branded itself from a public and government bureaucratic sector to a highly competitive branch of education, using the company name of the ministry throughout its operations for the first time. Its new logo appeared ubiquitously in the Middle-Eastern media as part of a pan-Middle- Eastern advertising campaign. In Jordan, the logo and new marketing strategies were launched heavily to capture large television audiences and to provide the occasion for the Ministry to sponsor public banquets, serving free food in public tents throughout Jordan. The Ministry of Education logo featured prominently at such banquets. As aforementioned, the development of these tactics was and is top-down, with top management being largely responsible for changes in brand strategy. 4.3 The Higher Education Ministry The Ministry of Higher Education is owned and operated by the government of Jordan. It was created in 1974 by Ahmad Alwazi, prime minster of Jordan at that time, but was combined with the Ministry of Education a few times between the 1980`s and 1990`s. Ministry of Higher Education is now among the leading higher education providers in the Middle East region. It has over 615 thousand students, teachers and professors spread over 35 colleges and universities in Jordan. Of these colleges and universities, almost 370 thousand are in public colleges compared to 245 thousand in private colleges. The Higher Education Ministry is also Jordan's largest provider of professionals for the Ministry of Education and the education sector in general. It is also the largest provider of teachers to many neighboring states. It is now the second largest educational provider in Jordan after the Ministry of Education. 4.4 The Ministry of Higher Education Brand Strategy The Ministry of Higher Education respondents agreed that, generally, brand strategy involves formulating a plan aimed to realize ministry objectives - that is, they had the same general view of brand strategy as the Ministry of Education respondents. One respondent also mentioned the importance of image in differentiating the Ministry of Higher Education from the Ministry of Education and other competing higher educational services in the region. The respondents also agreed that the Ministry aims to be the preferred choice in Jordan and the Middle East, as well as in the rest of the world in terms of higher education. At first, the Ministry of Higher Education used the image of the strategic higher education provider in offering service quality coupled with reasonable price. Thus, The Ministry’s functional values at this time were 'high-quality' and 'inexpensive', values that may be perceived as being mutually exclusive. Although higher education gained a substantial part of the Jordanian market, the Ministry of Education has remained the market leader in education. However, Jordanians perceived Higher Education Ministry as being of a better quality than Ministry of Education, at least partly as a result of pricing and branding policy. The Ministry of Higher Education countered the negative aspects of its image by promoting itself as through many private universities as these universities care more about the bottom-line more than the quality of education. While many private schools did more to improve their image and more students and parents could feel proud to be associated with these institutions. It thus incorporated being 'nice' professional and high quality education and being part of local and regional communities. Following Ministry of Education’s lead, Ministry of Higher Education presented itself as a problem solver for Jordanian people in terms of the quality of higher education and the demand for it. Ministry of Higher Education’s brand strategy is formalized and suggested by the Ministry of Education, but the Higher Education Ministry has the ability to adapt it to cater to the Jordanian market and demands. Thus, the brand strategy is also top-down, but less so than the brand strategy of the Ministry of Education. 4.5 Ministry of Higher Education Tactics Jordanians commonly regard many state-owned organizations as being corrupt and managed by incompetents. This pertains to the Arabic concept of wasta, which loosely translates as the use of powerful, often political, connections to obtain favor. Wasta remains widespread in the Middle East (George 2005). The Higher Education Ministry suffers from this negative image, but with the establishment of many private institutions this becomes less and less of a concern.
  • 6. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 13 Ministry of Higher Education’s initial marketing tactics were unsubtle. The Ministry relied on occasional media advertisements and feeding journalists stories, neither of which had much to do with the Ministry`s brand identity. Between 1999-2010, they started to sponsor philanthropic projects, but this did little to improve its image and its acceptability. During these early years, private universities targeted sections of the market untapped by public universities, especially students who are looking for the flexibility of going to school and work at the same time. The requirements for admission are also less difficult than public schools. This gave private sector in education a larger market share; especially as the families, relatives and friends of students used private education as a way of improving opportunities in life. The demand increased for private education as public education was perceived as poor quality and cheap. Another marketing tactic implemented by the Ministry, however, was unsuccessful. Private universities offered a special program for under performing or students with low grades in high school. This attempt did not enhance the private university brand values and its brand personality, this ploy succeeded only in reinforcing its poor image. Competing on price led some private universities to engage tactically with other private and public universities in a kind of price war. The price war slightly increased some of these universities market share, but overall these universities position of providing good value for the money was relatively ineffective against some of the public colleges that were in the position of appealing to Jordanian market demand. The entry of new private universities into the Jordanian market provided the trigger for many other schools to become more proactive in their brand strategies, and to undertake re-branding and re-positioning. Before these new private universities launched their new identity, existing universities and colleges in both the private and public sector fed Jordanian media propaganda to the effect that they offer a high quality education, a message that was reinforced by a media campaign. Some of the private universities launched a T.V. campaign in between 2005-2011; focusing their campaign in the months that follow (Ramadan) every year. Jordanians spend most of this time watching television, visiting each other and travelling. The campaign used television, the press and, crucially, street advertising. Within months, these organizations changed all their product packaging and all the façades of and décor within their points of purchase throughout Jordan. These new campaigns used new logos and messages, which were featured in many places in the media. Brand strategy: 'We tried to position the power of education brand at MEU by showing its regional spread'. (Marketing director, MEU Jo) 5. Discussion This study of brand strategy in the education, both private and public, sector in Jordan offers a number of interesting insights into the evolution of brand strategy in a service sector, and, specifically, demonstrates the use of branding to respond to competitive threats. 5.1 Perspectives on and Control of Brand Strategies With the exception of the respondents from a couple of new universities, most respondents agreed that brand strategy involves formulating a set of plans to realize company objectives, and thus view brand strategy as a central component of business strategy. This level of agreement is somewhat surprising given the ambiguity in definitions of brand strategy in the literature, but it is reassuring as many authors argue that clear and accurate definitions of key terms, and management's use of them, improves corporate performance (McWilliam & de Chernatony 1989; Aaker & Joachimsthaler 2000; Osler 2003; Kotler & Pfoertsch 2006). In addition, respondents also variously mentioned image, brand complexity, positioning and differentiating the private sector from its rivals the public sector. Both sectors took a top-down approach to the formulation of brand strategy and brand tactics, with the exception of one university, where brand tactics are mainly determined by a sub-section of the university marketing department. Respondents made little reference to the role of employees in delivering the brand experience, an aspect that is regarded as important in the services branding literature (de Chernatony & Segal-Horn 2003). Public sector has no separate branding department, whereas private sector has. All except for one private university have an integrated brand architecture, and use the same corporate brand in association with various educational services. 5.2 Brand Strategy as a Competitive Tool There is very clear evidence that in this marketplace brand strategy is used to protect or expand market share. As discussed in the literature (Chan-Olmsteda & Jamison 2001; Singh 2006), the educational market is dynamic and highly competitive. With an intangible service, brand is one of the few tools for differentiation (Berry 2000). It is evident that in this sector, the need for brand strategy is associated with entry of competition into the marketplace. Some of the private universities had no need for proactive branding until other private universities entered the marketplace. Furthermore, until new organizations entered the marketplace, some organizations in the private sector had the luxury of succeeding in the marketplace despite what consumers perceived as a
  • 7. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 14 contradictory set of values. It seems unlikely that, had some of the private universities not employed a vigorous brand strategy supported by integrated tactics, they would have made headway within Jordan. These organizations entered the market last; they were small, and their major rivals (private university established in early 2000, had already gained considerable market presence). Moreover, some of the new private universities offered no technological advantages over its rivals. Their success appears to have been owing largely to these organizations perspicacious marketing and, even more, to their brand strategy (Doyle 2001; Kapferer 2008). A key element of brand strategy and brand evolution is re-branding. Merrilees and Miller (2008) suggest that there has been limited research into corporate re-branding. Their research emphasizes the need for maintaining core values and cultivating the brand, linking the existing brand with the revised brand, targeting new segments, getting stakeholder buy-in, achieving alignment of brand elements and the importance of promotion in awareness building. Re-branding is used in this sector in response to competition in the marketplace. Both private and public sectors used re-branding in the face of competitive threats from new entrants to the marketplace. Re- branding has been used as an opportunity to: • Develop and communicate a clearer identity. • Sharpen and sometimes change positioning and targeting. • Undertake a marketing educational campaign to increase brand awareness. • Align brand architecture so that the corporate brand is used for all services. 5.3 Brand Values are a Key Aspect of Brand Strategy As summarized, the two sectors identified the centrality of brand values to positioning and engaging with their targeted market segments. The literature suggests that clear positioning is important to business success (Keller 2002; Kapferer 2008). Education public sector, the first entrant to the market, built a strong position based on their high identification with the Jordanian people. After a shaky start, private organization in the education sector recognized the value of representing themselves as regional organizations, and thereby appealed to the Jordanian's aspirations to be 'regional and global citizens'. In their different ways, Public and private universities wrestled with the potential advantages and disadvantages of what might be perceived by consumers as predatory globalization, and chauvinistic nationalism (Gibbs and Ilkan 2008). On the other hand, they struggled with convincing potential customers that a brand can be both 'high quality' and 'inexpensive'. In contrast, being 'affordable' did not appear to negatively impact some of these organizations, because its low prices were consistent with its image of serving the needs of their main target group, the young. Karjaluoto et al. (2005) demonstrated that price (coupled with technological advances) was the most influential factor in the choice of a new major. It is not therefore surprising that the price of completing a college degree has played a central role in competitive strategies and positioning. Some organization identity and values reflected its niche strategy of targeting to the demand of Jordanians in the workplace context; they sought to offer ' the best education for the market demand '. There is also the issue of core versus extended identity. The core identity of private sector is excellent technology; their extended identity includes Arab pride and family values. In one university case, the core identity and the extended identity are consistent. Another private university, by contrast, appears to have suffered because there was a tension between its core identity (excellent technology) and its extended identity (being inexpensive). Further, the relative lack of success of a couple of universities in contrast to the success of others may be explained by these two universities failure to develop an extended identity (Aaker 1997). 5.4 Brand Communications Strategies Brand communications strategies are important in bringing the brand to the attention of audiences. The two branches in the education sector in Jordan all adopted integrated marketing communication, although in the case of the public this was limited to advertising, and some recognition of the importance of word-of-mouth. The private sector also noted the importance of word-of-mouth, and to support this engaged in philanthropy. While some sought the endorsement of politicians and celebrities, and other organizations were proactive in managing publicity. Both sectors also used advertising. The most interesting and proactive phases of brand communication were associated with market entry and re- branding. As illustrated in the findings section, marketing tactics were innovative and tailored to the market segment. Private sector was arguably the most astute in choosing the places, channels and messages to make contact with its target audience, young people. While public, it might be argued, was relatively uninventive, but this may be due to the fact that they operated primarily in a larger market in which promotion is through contacts and networks. 6. Conclusions This article offers a range of insights into brand strategy in the education sector in Jordan. It responds to calls from other researchers for more research into brand strategy in the service sector, in general, and the private and public education sector, in particular. The study demonstrates the extent to which the evolution of competitive strategy and brand strategy is interwoven, and highlights the contribution of brand strategy to the
  • 8. European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.19, 2013 15 achievement of company objectives. Brand strategy is used to protect or expand market share, and branding initiatives are typically associated with the entry of competition into the marketplace. Re-branding is often a key element of such responsive brand strategies, and despite the challenges associated with changing brand identity, most of the private educational organizations succeeded in changing their brand identity. Brand values are shown to be central to positioning and engaging with targeted market segments. There is evidence that clear and credible positioning contributes to business success, but also that some of the private universities wrestled with convincing potential customers that their various brand values constituted a coherent identity. In particular, public universities suffered from a tension between core identity and extended identity, and some private universities failed to develop an extended identity. Brand education strategies are core to bringing the brand, its values and its identity to the attention of audiences, and in addition play a major role in market entry and re-branding exercises. The two sectors: private and public organization adopted integrated marketing education, but the portfolio of marketing education activities varied between the two sectors. Marketing tactics were innovative and tailored to the market segment. Advertising and word-of-mouth fuelled by endorsement from politicians and celebrities were key channels. This article is one contribution to the knowledge and understanding of branding in relation to the relatively uncharted territories of branding in the education (public and private) industry, and in the Middle East. Accordingly, there is plenty of scope for further research. Others have already acknowledged the importance of further research into the branding of services. Specifically, further research could fruitfully focus on: Branding in the education industry, both globally and in different countries. Such research might focus on both services and technological aspects, branding in the Middle East, focusing both on the brand strategies adopted in different sectors, and the response of consumers to such strategies. References Aaker, D.A. & Joachimsthaler, E. (2000), Brand Leadership, New York, NY: The Free Press. Aaker, J. (1997), Dimensions of brand personality, Journal of Marketing Research 34(3), 347-356. Ambler, T. & Barwise, P. (1998), The trouble with brand valuation, Journal of Brand Management 5(5), 367- 377. Aydin, S. & Ozer, G. (2005), The analysis of antecedents of customer loyalty in the Turkish mobile telecommunication market, European Journal of Marketing 39(7/8), 910-925. Badri, M.A., Davis, D.L. & Davis, D.F. 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