TOWARDS A CLIENT-BASED BRAND EQUITY FRAMEWORK FOR Brand equity, customer-based brand equity, brand...

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Transcript of TOWARDS A CLIENT-BASED BRAND EQUITY FRAMEWORK FOR Brand equity, customer-based brand equity, brand...

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    Steenkamp, P., Herbst, F.J, de Villiers, J.C and Terblanche-Smit, M


    Economics and marketing dictate that brands should be built in an effective manner. The article

    presents a conceptual framework to guide effective brand building strategies in a selected

    business-to-business (B2B) services context. The model was developed empirically by applying

    the Brand Resonance model to a B2B services context. Results prompted the inclusion of a

    people dimension and elevated the importance of relationships in an amended model called the

    Client-Based Brand Equity (CL-BBE) model. The model proposes that people are at the centre

    of service brand building and includes the dimensions of attitude and demeanour, personality

    and values, personableness, product knowledge and client knowledge. Relationships, as the

    ultimate aim of the model, concern both interpersonal relationships and partnerships. The CL-

    BBE model could assist marketing practitioners and researchers to improve the effectiveness of

    strategic brand management for B2B services.


    Brand equity, customer-based brand equity, brand awareness, brand imagery, brand loyalty,

    services branding, B2B, industrial.


    The indiscriminate use of the Brand Resonance model for business-to-business (B2B) services

    may lead to suboptimum brand building strategies, which may result in sources of brand equity

    being enhanced that are not applicable and/ or sources that may be important, not being


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    Brand building strategies create brand equity, which is a base for competitive advantage and

    future earnings. The Brand Resonance model [formerly called the Customer-Based Brand

    Equity (CBBE) model] incorporates theory and practice to provide a framework for building,

    measuring and managing a strong brand. This model approaches brand equity from the

    consumer’s point of view. The basic argument of the model is that a brand’s power resides in

    the consumer’s mind, that is, that the power of a brand is built through all experiences with a

    brand (Keller, 2008: 37-38).

    Marketing theory was largely developed around the concept of a product even though offerings

    are divided into product and service offerings. Marketing management, in turn, focused on the

    differences between the two types of offerings or, more specifically, how existing product

    marketing theory can be adapted for service offerings (Vargo & Lusch, 2004: 14-15,1-2). The

    services sector is an important part of the economy and a major job creator. Contributing to the

    proliferation of services are technology, innovation, globalisation and franchising (McDonald, de

    Chernatony & Harris, 2001: 335-336). Branding is not merely important for tangible goods, but it

    is also fundamental to the success of service organisations (Berry, 2000: 128).

    The extant brand management knowledge has been derived from research predominantly in

    business-to-consumer (B2C) markets and, more specifically, fast moving consumer goods.

    Academic research into the subject of B2B branding is limited, detached and inconclusive, and

    while in the B2C context branding has been accepted as multi-dimensional, in the B2B context

    branding is still constrained to a narrow and myopic view of the brand (Leek & Christodoulides,

    2011: 230). Even though Keller (2001: 25) mentions that the Brand Resonance model should be

    refined, edited and embellished to suit the needs of its users, it is not known what an amended

    brand equity model for B2B services would entail.

    An adapted brand equity model could assist marketing practitioners and brand decision makers

    to improve the effectiveness of brand building and strategic brand management strategies for

    B2B services.

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    The aim of the article is to report which brand-building blocks and sub-dimensions of the Brand

    Resonance model are confirmed, as well as those that are not confirmed and to suggest others

    that may be relevant to selected B2B services. Based on this, a Client-Based Brand Equity

    framework is proposed. The empirical research contributes to three areas of brand equity

    research, namely 1) the offering type – by investigating service offerings rather than product

    offerings; 2) the brand level – by investigating organisation-level brands rather than product-

    level brands; and 3) context – by investigating a B2B context rather than a B2C context.

    Brand equity and the Brand Resonance model are introduced next, followed by the methods

    used to collect data. The data were used to test the applicability of the Brand Resonance model

    and its building blocks and sub-dimensions in a real world B2B services context. The article

    concludes by proposing a CL-BBE framework.


    In order to develop frameworks that seek to provide guidance for the enhancement of brand

    equity, a common understanding of the relevant concepts is necessary. This literature review

    will, therefore, define brand equity and differentiate between brand equity and brand value, and

    this includes a discussion about the two perspectives on brand equity. This will lead into the

    focus of this section, namely the brand equity models. The section concludes with the

    theoretical positioning of the present study.

    There seems to be ambiguity as far as the term ‘brand equity’ is concerned, with different

    definitions and no consensus (Juntunen, Juntunen & Juga, 2011: 302-303). In general, brand

    equity seems to entail consumer perception of the brand based on associations attached to the

    brand as a result of experiences or a relationship, which differentiates and allows greater sales

    volumes, market share or profit margins. Brand equity and the relational concept are linked and

    focus on long-term value creation rather than a short-term transaction orientation or profit

    maximisation. The relational concept treats the brand and the consumer as partners with

    congruent personalities and values and the brand and consumer have a relationship, which is

    not dissimilar to relationships between people (The Oxford Dictionary, 2010, Ambler, 1995: 386,

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    388-389, 394). Keller (2008: 48) defines customer-based brand equity as “the differential effect

    that brand knowledge has on consumer response to marketing of that brand”.

    Even though the term brand equity is used most often, in some instances brand equity and

    brand value are used synonymously. Brand equity can be financially based and strategy based.

    The financially based perspective estimates the economic market value of the brand for

    accounting purposes. This refers to the price premium attributable to the brand; brand

    preference; replacement value of the brand; share price; and potential future earnings. The

    strategy based perspective aims to build brands based on consumers’ perceptions. Nonfinancial

    measures of brand equity are used such as brand awareness and attitude. This strategy is

    delivered through marketing investment. Therefore, the financial based perspective is

    concerned with the value of the asset from an organisation’s point of view, whereas the strategy

    based perspective focuses building the brand from the consumers’ point of view. Ambler’s

    distinction between brand value (financial worth) and brand equity (strength of brand as asset)

    was adopted (Ambler, 1995: 386-387, 392, 394; Pappu, Quester & Cooksey, 2005: 153).

    Branding models

    Some branding models are simplistic and focus on the tangible aspects of a brand (Schechter,

    1994 & Grossman, 1994,) while others focus mostly on the intangible aspects (Kapferer, 1992).

    However, the two most cited branding models are Keller’s Brand Resonance model and Aaker’s

    Brand Equity model (O’cass & Grace, 2004: 257).

    Aaker’s Brand Equity model consists of five dimensions, namely (1) brand loyalty; (2) brand

    name awareness; (3) perceived quality; (4) brand associations in addition to perceived quality;

    and (5) other proprietary brand assets such as patents, trademarks and channel relationships.

    Brand equity, according to this model, is a basis for competitive advantage and future earnings.

    Brand knowledge is fundamental to Keller’s Brand Resonance model. Brand equity is the result

    of brand knowledge, which creates differential advantage. Brand knowledge consists of brand

    nodes in consumers’ minds with associations attached to these nodes (Keller, 1993: 1-22; 2001:

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    15-19; 2008: 60-61). According to the Brand Resonance model, brand knowledge consists of

    brand awareness and brand image. Therefore, customer-based brand equity occurs when the

    consumer is aware of the brand and strong, favourable, and unique brand associations have

    been attached to the brand (Keller, 2008: 49-53).

    The Brand Resonance model includes most of Aaker’s Brand Equity model’s dimensions, as

    well as other propriety mod