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     J ÖNKÖPING I NTERNATIONAL B USINESS S CHOOL    Jönköping University   The Service Branding Model Small Service Firms’ Approach to Building Brand Equity Master’s thesis within Marketing Authors: Hermansson, Frida Larsson, Josephine Tutor: Gustavsson, Veronica  Jönköping May 2005      Master’s Thesis within Marketing Title: The Service Branding Model – Small Service Firms’ Approach to Building Brand Equity Author: Frida Hermansson Josephine Larsson Tutor: Veronica Gustavsson Date : 2005-05-27  Subject terms: Marketing, Branding, Brand Equity, Services, Small Business, En-trepreneurship    Abstract Problem: The growth of the service industry has led to increased competition, and branding has become a tool for gaining competitive advantages. Because services are essentially intangible, the branding of services is important and dif-ferent from the branding of products. A strong brand of-fers many advantages in the service industry and when evaluating the strength of the brand, the concept of brand equity is used. As no in-depth research has been conducted to explore how small service firms operate to create brand equity, we have set out to investigate how this is done in the everyday work. Previous research also falls short of relating the area of service branding to small service firms.  Purpose:  The purpose of this thesis is to examine how small ser-vice firms operate to build brand equity in relation to the service branding model. Method:  We have chosen to use a qualitative approach and con-duct a collective, instrumental case study consisting of four companies. The data have been collected through interviews. Conclusion: The influences of external brand communications are greater in small service firms than in large ones while the impact of the presented brand is less significant. We have therefore adjusted the service branding model in accor-dance to these differences.    i Table of Content 1   Introduction............................................................................1   1.1   Background.....................................................................................1   1.2   Problem Discussion........................................................................1   1.3   Purpose...........................................................................................1   1.4   Research Questions.......................................................................1   1.5   Definitions and Clarifications ..........................................................1   1.6   Disposition ......................................................................................1   2   Frame of Reference...............................................................1   2.1   Small Businesses............................................................................1   2.1.1   Small Business Marketing....................................................1   2.1.2   Key Characteristics of Small Businesses and Small Business Marketing.........................................................................1   2.2   Characteristics of Services.............................................................1   2.3   Brand Equity ...................................................................................1   2.4   The Service Branding Model ..........................................................1   2.4.1   Brand Awareness.................................................................1   2.4.2   Brand Meaning.....................................................................1   2.4.3   Presented Brand..................................................................1   2.4.4   External Brand Communications .........................................1   2.4.5   Customer Experience with Company...................................1   2.5   Summary of Characteristics of Services and the Service Branding Model..........................................................................................1   3   Method....................................................................................1   3.1   Research Method............................................................................1   3.2   Case Studies...................................................................................1   3.2.1   Case Sampling.....................................................................1   3.2.2   Data Collection.....................................................................1   3.3   Data Analysis..................................................................................1   3.4   Research Quality ............................................................................1   3.4.1   Reliability..............................................................................1   3.4.2   Validity..................................................................................1   4   Empirical Findings and Analysis.........................................1   4.1   The Four Cases..............................................................................1   4.1.1   Pdb.......................................................................................1   4.1.2   Proserva...............................................................................1   4.1.3   Imano ...................................................................................1   4.1.4   Persistent Solutions .............................................................1   4.2   How do small service companies present their brand in order to enhance brand awareness and brand meaning?........................1   4.2.1   Name....................................................................................1   4.2.2    Advertising............................................................................1   4.2.3   Symbolic Associations .........................................................1   4.3   How do small service companies manage external brand communications in order to enhance brand awareness and brand meaning?...................................................................................................1      ii 4.3.1   Word-of-Mouth.....................................................................1   4.3.2   Publicity................................................................................1   4.4   How do small service companies manage the customer experience with the company in order to enhance brand meaning?...................................................................................................1   4.4.1   Brand Delivery through Staff................................................1   4.4.2   Customer Participation.........................................................1   5   Conclusion and Final Discussion........................................1   5.1   Conclusion......................................................................................1   5.2   Final Discussion..............................................................................1   References...................................................................................1  
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