مشارکت بازیگران شبکه در برند شرکت های کوچک و متوسط B2B
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|23819||2011||9 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||8952 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 40, Issue 7, October 2011, Pages 1144–1152
This study explores how network actors participate in branding in the context of SMEs operating in business markets. Branding is conventionally seen as an internally governed process and its exposure to external influences has been generally overlooked. By using narrative interviews this study analyzes the branding actions of network actors which impact on an SME's brand image. This article shows that social and business network relationships influence the SME's brand image, as does the nature of the company's internal branding decisions and identity. The findings propose and define the concept of a branding pool, expanding the focus of branding beyond the boundaries of an individual organization into the context of nets. An SME cannot manage its branding pool, but it can mobilize stakeholders in branding to improve the brand performance in the market.
A notable feature of marketing practice and associated academic thought today concerns the emergence of brands as key organizational assets and important managerial resources (see e.g. Louro and Cunha, 2001, Balmer and Grey, 2003 and Hatch and Schultz, 2003). Brands have traditionally been considered to be property provided by the firm (Merz, He, & Vargo, 2009) developed and managed within a company to facilitate transactions with customers (Veloutsou, 2008). The emerging network economy creates needs for companies to interact and cooperate with others to increase efficiency and gain competitive advantage and thus presents challenges to traditional branding approaches (see e.g. Ritter and Gemünden, 2003 and Håkansson and Snehota, 2006). Although the importance of networks has been recognized, research has paid little attention to the contribution that network actors make to branding (Gregory, 2007 and Leitch and Richardson, 2003). Branding has been seen as an internally-driven process (Balmer & Grey, 2003) and the stakeholders are viewed as targets of branding rather than partners in or co-creators of branding (Gregory, 2007). Thus, we lack research on branding processes where customers, brands and network actors together construct value through their interaction (Brodie et al., 2006, Merz et al., 2009 and Payne et al., 2009). Leitch and Richardson (2003) further stress that theory building must move from being organization-centered to being relationship-centered, in other words to consider the network of relationships that organizations are embedded in as core parts of their identities rather than as external elements. Networks are important, especially to SMEs with limited resources that are highly dependent on the resources and expertise of others (see Gilmore, Carlson, & Grant, 2001). The ability to utilize networks can, therefore, be seen as critical to the brand building efforts of SMEs. There is limited research on B2B branding in general (see overviews by Bengtsson and Servais, 2005, Beverland et al., 2007, Glynn, 2011 and Mudambi, 2002) and on SME branding in particular. Branding is usually associated with large consumer-focused companies (Krake, 2005 and Merrilees, 2007). However, several studies (e.g. Boyle, 2003, Inskip, 2004, Juntunen et al., 2010 and Merrilees et al., 2011) show that brand orientation can be a positive force for market performance and small business growth. Accordingly, there is an underlying need to elaborate on how network actors participate in the branding processes of B2B SMEs. This study addresses the issue by using network research concepts to augment the branding literature. The study views the branding process of SMEs in an inter-organizational setting, focusing on the activities of ‘loosely’ connected network actors (see e.g. Möller and Wilson, cop. 1995 and Håkansson and Snehota, 1995) contributing to an SME's brand substance, as opposed to a strategically organized network (see e.g. Jarillo, 1988 and Parolini, 1999). Moreover, this study distinguishes itself from the network brand concept referring to a collectively constructed and governed brand of a strategic network (Hankinson, 2004). Instead, it builds on the brand co-creation discussion (Brodie et al., 2006, Christodoulides, 2008 and Gregory, 2007) adopting a full stakeholder approach. However, while brand co-creation points to proactive stakeholder involvement, engagement and dialog as its foundations (Hatch & Schultz, 2010), we also detect the more incidental behavior and uncoordinated activities of network actors contributing to branding. The main objective of this study is to develop a model that is sensitive to the unique characteristics of B2B SMEs; one that illustrates how network actors participate in branding. We start by discussing the relevant research on B2B branding in SMEs by focusing on branding as an interactive process, and present a model of a network of actors in B2B branding. We continue with the qualitative study and findings. A new concept – the branding pool – is proposed and defined with an empirically grounded model of network actors' participation in B2B SME branding. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and managerial implications, especially as they relate to the concept of the branding pool.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study highlights that network actors participate in B2B SME branding. The branding actions can be either direct or indirect. The direct actions influence branding separately from the company-governed branding process, whereas indirect actions influence branding through the changes brought about in the SME's internal operations. The direct actions influence the functional brand value, provide a reference, create WOM and media publicity, co-promote the brand, and in addition design, communicate, and position the brand. The direct participation does not stop at brand image creation and with external stakeholders, but also involves the creation of brand identity and the internal stakeholders of the company. The indirect actions include influencing the company's managerial decision making, giving feedback, offering financial support, and creating new contacts. Fig. 2 illustrates SME branding in a network setting where the brand image is constantly exposed to external influences. As a result, this study introduces the concept of the branding pool. The branding pool refers to the independent network actors that directly participate in B2B SME branding activity, and is distinct from the related concepts of a branding community and strategic net. Those actors may be other firms, non-profit organizations, governmental bodies, or individual managers.The branding pool is always company specific and depends, for example, on the specific industry, business model, and stage of business (for context-specific constructs see Halinen & Törnroos, 2005). Accordingly, the depth of the pool is always contextual as is the force of the impact that the actors within it exert on the SME branding processes at a given time. It further became apparent that SME business networks embody social elements, thus, both interpersonal and inter-organizational relationships must be considered when identifying the branding pool.