The corporate branding networks behind b2b smes revealing the actors
THE CORPORATE BRANDINGNETWORKS BEHIND B2B SMES: REVEALING THE ACTORS Mäläskä, Saraniemi & Juntunen IMP2011, Industrial branding special track Markkinoinnin yksikön seminaari 25.8.2011
Introduction• Branding is internally governed systematically planned process Branding is collective and dynamic process (Lauro & Cunha 2001; Velotsou 2008)• Network actors are passive targets of one-way brand communication Network actors are active constituents of brand value creation (Einwiller & Will 2002; Ballantyne & Aitken 2007; Merz, He & Vargo 2009) The overall brand performance is reliant on a range of external actors (Morgan, Deeter-Schmelz & Mober 2007; Christopher & Gaudenzi 2009)• The dominant emphasis in branding is on controlling internal branding strategies The dominant emphasis in branding is on managing and exploiting network relationships (Leich & Richardson 2003; see also Håkansson & Snehota 2006)• There are various external actors in company’s network that can paly a significant part in co-creating the brand (Jones 2005) However, the roles of different actors in the branding process remain unexplored!
Purpose• The purpose of this paper is to identify the external network actors that play a part in a B2B SMEs corporate branding and to elucidate their interdependencies in relation to he brand RQ: Who are the external network actors involved in the branding process in B2B SMEs?
Theorethical background: Corporate branding research ”relationship- Industrial centred” network branding in theory B2B SMEs Stakeholder theory
Research method:• Qualitative interview research• Network/multi stakeholder approach• 13 in-depth interviews with SME managers and stakeholders including customers, channel partners and a consultant• Inductive coding of the empirical data: • Identification of the the different actors relevant to branding • Classification of the stakeholders according to (the meaning of) their branding activities • Conceptualization of the groups of external stakeholders involved in or contributing to the branding process
Findings:The 5 A’s involved in corporatebranding 2/21. Brand Advisors are involved in an SME’s brand related management decisions.2. Brand Associates are involved in delivering on the functional brand value (i.e. contribute to the company’s product and/or service performance)3. Brand Advocates generate brand knowledge in the markets4. Brand authorities govern SME’s branding decisions (this usually indicates some level of dependency between the actors)5. Brand assistants facilitate SME’s branding effort by providing valuable feedback and support
Findings: External stakeholders involved inB2B SME brandingBrand Brand Brand Brand BrandAdvisors Associates Advocates Authorities AssistantsAdvertising and Intermediaries, Technology Governmental Manager’sPR agencies, Suppliers, and investor agencies, personalMarketing/ Strategic partners, Regulators, friends,business partners, Customers, Trade and Businessconsultancies, Component Channel industry colleagues,Research manufacturers partners, associations, Close channelinstitutes, Media, Channel partners,Experienced Opinion partners, Public andinvestors, leaders Industry leading privateBusiness competitors, investorspartners Key customers, Shareholders
Theorethical contributions:1. Contribution to the research on industrial networks by suggesting that SMEs’ overall brand performance is influenced by different network actors who the company is not necessarily able to control2. Contribution to corporate branding and stakeholder discussions by revealing and conceptualizing The 5 A’s involved in corporate branding
Managerial implications:• A company cannot internally manage or controll all the brand related information and activities Regularly evaluate the substance of differentexternal stakeholders in relation to the predefinedcorporate branding strategy Detect, build and exploit relationships with actors positive influence on brand Facilitate co-creation and embrace mutuality in relationships