A preliminary literature review
Branding has emerged as one of the most important issues of modern world. In fact, it influences a multitude of spheres, including marketing, society, and even psychology. First, it is worth mentioning that nowadays creating a brand image has become of a paramount importance for the international market in general and for the major companies in specific.
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Secondly, branding influences the consumers as well: even though the brands are being designed and developed for people, this phenomenon also has a reverse process. For instance, while the brand products need buyers, the consumers need the products with a good brand image.
The better the position of a certain brand in the international market, the greatest is the demand for it, and visa versa. Finally, brands are now proved to have a great impact on the psychology and subconsciousness of people.
Thus, there is an evident interdependence of the two main components of marketing, the seller and the consumer. Our task is to study this interdependence, its main tendencies, processes and rules.
In order to get the basic knowledge in the field of branding, we will familiarize ourselves with the theoretical ground of the topic. In addition, we will try to analyze the elaborated material critically in order to form our personal opinion about all the issues, which would be as objective as possible.
Before analyzing the main problems in the field of branding, it is worth defining the brand. There are several approaches to defining the brand; however, no universal definition had been yet accepted. Therefore, we should consider several definitions of brand that are used nowadays. One of the simplest paraphrasing of brand is probably given by Keller (2003a).
The author states that “technically speaking, whenever a marketer creates a new name, logo or symbol for a new product, he or she has created a brand”. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that the most common tendency is defining a brand as “the name associated with one or more items in the product line that is used to identify the source of character of the items.” (Kotler 2000, p.396).
The American Marketing Association gives another definition of the brand. Namely, they refer to a brand as to “a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.” (Kotler 2000, p.404).
Having summarized the found definitions of brand, we need to point out that in this work we are going to analyze brand as a much broader notion. Taking into consideration the complex nature of brand and its role in today’s society, we cannot state that a logotype or a name is enough to be called a brand.
Brand is associated with products and packaged goods and thinking processes and business strategies of a certain firm; it also denotes both the product manufacturing and service organizations. Thus, judging objectively, we should note that brands also refer to a certain quality of the product or service, its position in the market, its target consumer etc.
A successful brand is the one that has a memorable and positive brand image. In contrast to the previously given definition of brand, there is a statement that “brand is a sign – therefore external – whose function is to disclose the hidden qualities of the product that are inaccessible to contact.” (Kapferer 2004, p.28) In other words, brands are not simple names; brands are names with individuality.
Nowadays the major challenge for all organizations is creating a powerful and distinctive image for both the product and the company. Thus, Aaker (2000) denotes that the goal for a traditional model is to build up a brand image and frame a tactical element that helps in achieving the short term results.
If earlier branding was considered as an offhand fashion that is a part of the product, today branding is referred to as the major issue that is related to the product strategy (Kotler 2000). It is worth mentioning that Kapferer (2008) ironically differentiates between two approaches to branding.
One is “customer based and focuses exclusively on the relationship customers have with the brand (from total indifference to attachment, loyalty an willingness to buy and rebuy based on beliefs of superiority and evoked emotions)”, and the other “aims at producing measures in dollars, euros or yen”(p.9).
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In any case, for a company to be successful at creating a positive brand image it is important to consider the key brand factors, which include:
- Assets and capabilities
- Innovation perceived quality for the customers
- Local and global orientation
- Good company vibes
- The size and performance of the corporate
Working on the mentioned points will enable a company to create a positive brand. This, in turn, will allow differentiating an organization’s products and services from those of others, and increasing the companies’ efficiency in their marketing expenditures and the activities associated with it.
What is more, one should consider developing a viable brand strategy, creating brand awareness, and studying the market. All these points will be covered by our study.
Brand Management and Brand Strategy
Once a brand has been created, it needs a lot of work to be done in order to obtain a proper reputation and leading place in the market. The measures, which are taken in order to promote brand and develop its improvement, are referred to as brand management. With the words of Reeves, “the art of creating and maintaining a brand is called brand management” (Reeves, 1).
On the contrary, Aaker (2004) as a rather pragmatic approach to the issue, arguing that brand management refers to applying various marketing techniques to a certain brand (Aaker, 2004, p.47). Indeed, there is a multitude of techniques that can be used for promoting different kinds of products and services. That is why it can be stated that brand management is strongly related to the brand strategies.
Correspondingly, a brand strategy is the thought of translation of the business strategy for a particular market place. It denotes the way in which the company is delivering its product to the market where it is intended and this, in turn, will influence the target customers in creating an image in their mind about the product.
There are various branding strategies. They include:
- hybrid branding, which is integrating two or more brand names and the products correspondingly;
- umbrella (also called “family”) branding, which lies in providing different services and products by one company;
- corporate branding, which is offering one kind of benefit to the customers by different organizations;
- distinct (sometimes referred to as “individual”) branding, which is creating “sub-brands” for different services and products of one organization, and many others (Worsham, 2009).
All these strategies are to be applied in different specific situations.
Besides the mentioned strategies, there are also others, which can combine several approaches. As an example, we can mention the cobranded ingredient branding strategy, offered by one of the authors. The essence of this strategy lies in the fact that “the attribute ingredients are supplied by another firm” (Kaushik, 2002, p.80). Such strategies can be successful in certain situations.
Aaker (2009) explains the traditional model for brand management, where the team of brand management is in charge of creating and coordinating the program of brand management within an organization.
Thus, according to the author, an important objective behind the building of brand management team is coordination between the manufacturing and sales department, the main task of which is to derive solutions for the problems that are arising out of the sales and market shares.
This strategy suggests that the marketing department is the matter of concern in the branding activity. In our opinion, this scheme is rather viable in today’s market, where most of the companies started focusing on the tactical aspect rather than on strategic and visionary aspect.
Another point of view was expressed by Steve Manton, who suggests that the intellectual asset strategy is one of the most successful for positive brand image design. To be precise, the author states that “intellectual asset strategy should address issues, such as:
- How intellectual assets underpinning the organization’s key differentiating and enabling capabilities are to be managed;
- Whether the organization will seek to generate revenue from its intellectual assets via licensing, and if so, how opportunities are to be realized;
- How the organization will use trademarks to protect, develop and exploit its brand.” (Manton, 2005, p.38).
Another author, Kapferer, analyzes the issue of brand management from another point of view. The author discovered that the key feature of brand management is designing its identity (Kapferer, 1995, p.47). Indeed, developing a unique identity for a brand is the major task of brand management, which is important for the companies as well as for the consumers.
What is more, there is an idea expressed by Leslie de Chernatony, who argues that the brand identity should coincide with its manager and employee identity. In other words, the author says that the workers and the brand should have a single spirit; the values and ideas of a certain brand image should be shared within the circle of people involved in the brand management (de Chernatony, 1999, p.184).
Indeed, such correlation between the personnel and the brand can help to create a successful trademark. The author also performs a view that the homogeneous brand identity leads to development of strong brand, while changing the image of a trademark can be harmful in the long run.
Overall, there are various brand strategies, and the choice of a certain brand strategy has to be motivated by such factors as target consumers’ needs and possibilities, product or service orientation, the current situation in the market, etc. In any case, choosing an appropriate branding strategy is a key to its intensive promotion and prosperity of the company.
Importance of Branding
As it was already mentioned, branding plays an outstanding role in today’s society and economy. To clarify the notion a bit, it is worth saying that branding denotes the process of producing and delivering the brand name of the products and services. Branding is applied to the whole organization’s identity and the products and services as well.
For the various companies, starting with the smallest firms and finishing with world famous monopolies, branding has become the major subject of concern. Today branding is both the aim and the means. It is extremely important for a company to design and maintain their own brand. As Keller has noted, branding guarantees a manufacturer (Keller, 2008, p.41):
- Legal defense of the product’s uniqueness;
- Identification of the product or service with its specific features and qualities;
- Recognition and financial benefits;
- The advantage of competition in the market.
Choosing a suitable branding strategy creates a positive image for the company, which depicts its efficiency and compatibility in the market. One of the most important benefits of branding for organizations is that their production or services correspond to the needs and values of a certain type of customers.
With the growth of brand popularity, the cooperation between the company and consumers increases, making the marketing process more prolific for both sides.
According to one Jean Kapferer, branding is a never-ending process, which needs to be constantly supported by the owners of the companies. As far as the modern economy is rather instable, branding should be efficiently planned in order to bring financial satisfaction for both the organization and the customers.
What is more, the changing environment of the market demands a high compatibility level and ability of a firm to satisfy the needs of different types of consumers. According to the author, branding is definitely a factor which helps to realize all the mentioned tasks.
Kapferer states that “the most prospective brand managers are looking for potential opportunities and free places on the market through the increasingly spread process of branding” (Kapferer, 2009, p.12).
On the other hand, besides the importance for the company, branding also conveys essential benefits for the consumers. Specifically, a branded product can guarantee to the customer a certain level of quality, which is stable throughout the years.
Moreover, branding is important for the customers because of its definite source and numerous levels of control, which eliminates the risk of not qualitative production selling or dissatisfactory service providing. Another advantageous feature of branding is that due to its popularity the customers gain not only certain things, but also a positive image created by the brands.
The same feature allows consumers finding the things of their level and their style quickly and effectively, with no need to spend time and money on searching for what they need. Furthermore, comparing to the common production, branded one conveys the manufacturer’s responsibility for their production and its quality.
Finally, branded products and services give a moral satisfaction to their consumers, as knowing that the surrounding things are of a good quality and well-recognized all over the world makes us feel more chick and comfortable.
However, in order to be objective, we need to take into consideration all the aspects of the studied issue. Thus, we found it important to mention that some authors have noted that branding is not always possible to plan; some unexpected problems can occur. This proves that branding takes some risks.
For instance, David Aaker believes that “A brand can take some risks. A strong brand is resilient and can stand some extension…, especially if the extension has some degree of separation.” (Aaker, 1995, p.138). As it can be seen from this quotation, creating a brand can only be safe when the owner of a company is sure about his perspectives and tools for brand promotion.
If the brand is not developed enough, it can be consumed by larger corporations, or simply left aside by competing organizations. In order to avoid these risks, it is important to constantly promote a product or service and develop brand awareness.
For society, branding can also have some negative consequences. In fact, branding is one of the major reasons of prejudice occurrence. People judge each other and the surrounding by the trademarks, not with some other qualities. This leads to the annihilation of moral values and subjects humanity to support the materialistic concepts.
What is more, branding increases the gaps between the different social groups, suggesting that luxury brands are available only for those who can afford them. This in turn causes social inequity and leads to deprivation of rights of some people.
As we can see, branding has a lot of positive features; its importance for both the manufacturers and consumers is hard to overestimate. However, together with the benefits, branding brings some problems like social inequity and risks for companies.
Creating Brand Awareness
Brand awareness denotes the primary and prerequisite dimension of the brand knowledge system in the consciousness of the customer. Basically, brand awareness reflects the ability of consumers to identify a certain brand in different situations among the production of the other manufacturers.
In other words, in case of high brand awareness a customer would think of a certain brand in a real buying situation. Brand awareness can also be referred to as a number of associations and images related to a certain trademark.
Brand awareness should be constantly developed in order to make a brand competitive in the conditions of changing modern world and its economy. The activities related to creating brand awareness are aimed at increasing the product’s recognition among consumers. However, there are two approaches to this point.
The first approach is based on developing an ultimately positive image of the product and promoting it by selling this image. This approach is rather successful, as one of the most important tasks of any campaign is making people want something. A nice wrapping is often preferred to an ordinary one, even if it is empty inside. Another approach suggests that a brand can be promoted through permanent good quality.
This approach is most appropriate for the long-term relationships between the company and the buyer, and relies on the experience customers have with the product or service.
Concerning this issue, Aaker notes that “most important contributing factor to the success of a licensed brand is the quality of the manufacturer, which is why it is absurd for brandowners to limit their options to only the most persistent courtiers.” (Aaker, 2004, p.14).
Indeed, the companies, which focus on gaining a good reputation for their brand through working on its quality, are more likely to obtain the preference of a number of customers in the future. This approach is aimed at developing trust and confidence in the customers rather than imaginary feeling of superiority.
Brand awareness is an important factor that facilitates the buying decisions process of the consumers. It is important to organize branding in a way that would enable the consumers to recall the branded product in a certain product category. The only way to achieve this is increasing the awareness among customers. The awareness increases the possibility of being a member of the consideration set of a brand.
In order to create brand awareness, the company should first analyze its potential stakeholders. This analysis should include such information that answeres the next “3 general questions about stakeholders” offered by Frooman:
- Who are they? (this question concerns their attributes)
- What do they want? (this question concerns their ends)
- How are they going to try to get it? (this question concerns their means) (Frooman, 1999, p.193)
Answering the offered questions will allow an organization study the field of their occupation and organize their activities in accordance with the needs of stakeholders. After all, the success of a certain brand depends on its relationships with consumers.
Due to this, analysis of buyers’ behavior has become one of the most important fields in the sphere of marketing. At this point, every detail matters. “Buyers maximize the utility consisting of deterministic and stochastic components”, states one of the authors (Carpenter, 1989, p. 1029).
The studies of brand awareness development also investigate the weak points of the process. For instance, Alina Wheeler argues that the image of the company is one of the most important issues for the brand. According to the author, every detail matters, including the form, color, general design, logotype etc. In case of inappropriate match of these elements there is a risk of losing the customers (Wheeler, 2006, p.72).
Overall, it is necessary for a company to realize the importance of creating brand awareness. The high brand awareness means that the consumers prefer and trust a certain brand more than others, which increases its market share and contributes to its development.
In order to increase the brand awareness, numeral tools can be used. One of the most effective techniques for brand awareness development are those of marketing communication mix.
Marketing and Communication Mix
For a successful brand promotion, it is important to choose a proper marketing communication mix strategy. Marketing mix is a set of activities used for brand promotion. These activities are aimed at creating a viable and competitive campaign that can successfully deliver a certain message to the public and, as a result, increase the brand selling rates.
In addition, an appropriate marketing and communication mix plays a significant role in building the effective relationships with the customers, stakeholders, and also helps in leveraging these relationships for creating brand equity.
At the level of branding, the marketing outcomes and efforts are considered, and they are essential to the organization’s decisions related to the marketing activity. There is a multitude of approaches to communication mix; different companies may apply the tools of communication mix differently in accordance with their specific situation. Among the promotion activities of marketing communication mix there are:
- sales promotion
- personal selling activities
- public relations
- direct marketing
Without a doubt, it is extremely important to choose the appropriate elements of the marketing mix for successful brand promotion. Thus, it is worth analyzing all of the communication mix strategies. Advertising is the promotion of a brand through the mass media and all the possible visual and audio agents, such as big boards, radio messages, and many others.
Advertising is considered one of the most powerful tools of communication mix, as it has the greatest impact on customer’s purchasing decision. This tool suggests that customers become a active partners in the economic cycle; therefore, while advertising companies should adopt an appropriate advertising strategy through which the message can be conveyed to the customer correctly.
Another technique, which is sales promotion, can be most fully defined as “sales-stimulation achieved through contests, demonstrations, discounts, exhibitions or trade shows, games, giveaways, point-of-sale displays and merchandising, special offers, etc.” (Sales promotion, 2010). This technique is also rather effective, as it gives the customers a chance to economize and feel the prerogative of getting the same quality for a lower price.
Another aspect included in the marketing communication objective is personal selling. This technique is not aimed at the publics in general; this communication strategy is often used with a narrow circle of some specific consumers. Personal selling is most often applied by the owners of small companies, which are serving a limited number of people.
According to one of the explanations, “unlike advertising, a personal sales message can be more specifically targeted to individual prospects and easily altered if the desire behavior does not occur” (Business glossary: personal selling, 2010). Contrary to personal selling, public relations are aimed at creating a totally positive image of a brand for all its potential users.
Public relations mean managing the flow of information between the company and its stakeholders, partners, consumers, competitors, etc. Public relations are becoming more and more important in the modern market, as it contributes to the brand promotion and positive brand image creation.
The last tool of marketing communication mix is direct marketing. This tool is familiar to everyone, as it is based on direct propositions to the consumers, such as brochures, mail messages, television commercials, online stores, etc.
This communication mix element is used to develop a campaign through the years, and is thought to be rather effective. However, from your personal experience you can recall the drawbacks of the tool: the consumers rarely take it seriously, calling the mentioned materials of the tool “spam”.
In contrast to the mentioned views on communication mix, Jean Kapferer expresses a different idea about the essence of branding. The author argues that “Brands are rejuvenated by new products matching new needs, not by advertising.” (Kapferer, 2009, p.6)
In fact, this opinion is rather critical and should definitely be considered when analyzing the importance of brands in today’s world. Indeed, even though advertising is thought to be one of the most successful tools of communication mix, it can barely work for a long time with the condition of unacceptable quality or uselessness of the product.
As a result, it can be stated that one of the main criteria of brand promotion should be the underlying importance of the product for society. As one of the authors noted, “Just because it sells well doesn’t mean it’s good for the brand in the long term.” (Neumeier, 2006, p.8).
Obviously, a well-advertised and promoted space-suit will have less chances to become popular, than a toothpaste, as far as their value for the society in everyday life is different.
In our point of view, marketing communication mix is strongly related to the studying of consumers’ psychology. For instance, the promotion activities are based on the manipulation strategies, which allow influencing the buyer’s consciousness and subconsciousness in order to make them give preference to this or that brand.
Thus, successful branding demands knowledge of customers’ psychology in order to influence it properly. There are a number of ways to manipulate people, in specific – buyers. This point of view is developed by Eric Soares in one of his books. The author discusses the role of planned events in the marketing communication mix, proving that the buyers’ behavior is rather predictable.
Soares mentions such details as visual signs, audio motivators and other agents, which can subject a person to buy a certain product of a certain brand (Soares, 1991, p.178). Thus, this dissertation is going to be conducted from the point of view on branding as a range of tools for influence on consumers.
In this section, we have analyzed the main tendencies and problems in the field of branding. We studied such notions as brand management, brand strategy, communication and marketing mix, which allowed us embracing the major studies in this sphere.
As a result of the literature analysis, we have learned about the techniques for creating brand awareness, analyzed the major activities of communication mix, and proved the importance of branding for both the manufacturers and consumers.
In addition, we have noticed some gaps in the literature; for instance, the negative influence of branding is not being studied at all, and brand management techniques are not defined clearly.
Having analyzed a number of sources, we can now form more specific objectives of our study. Thus, the objectives of this dissertation are:
- to analyze the theory of branding
- to design a proper branding strategy for the Academy of Arts
- to create brand awareness among the potential customers of the Academy
In order to achieve the mentioned objectives, a proper research methodology is to be chosen.
The detailed research methodology
Identification of research methodologies is of paramount importance in dissertation writing. As it was already mentioned, our dissertation concerns the issue of branding and branding image. To be more specific, it is relevant to mention the research objectives of our study:
- to analyze the theory of branding
- to design a proper branding strategy for the Academy of Arts
- to create brand awareness among the potential customers of the Academy
Thus, it is necessary for us to analyze what issues and matters are to be considered in such kind aof research. It is being widely accepted that a research on branding answers the question “How do people perceive your product, service, or personality?” (Branding research to manage perceptions, 2002).
Indeed, all the branding activities are aimed at creating a positive branding image, which will serve for making people think good of a certain brand. What is more, in some cases it does not matter what people think about this or that brand, but it is important of what brand they think at first when recollecting a range of specific products.
As it was already mentioned in this paper, the effectiveness of a product or service in reaching the target market and even others is greatly influenced by the use of various branding strategies. Thus, it is important to have a critical analysis on the matter of methodologies used in conducting research on this topic.
As one of the sources denotes, “a dissertation’s methodology consists of four parts: participants, instruments, procedures, and data analysis” (Dissertation & research methodology help self-help articles for dissertation students & researchers, 2007). That is why, in this section we are going to consider all of the mentioned elements and choose the most appropriate out of the range of available units. Concerning the problems that are to be analyzed, we are going to address the issues of:
- proper branding strategy choice
- the peculiarities of the organization and its target consumers
- design of the tools for our research
As to the chapter organization, we will first decide how to organize our research in a proper and efficient way and define the criteria, which will point to the right methodology. In addition, we will analyze the possible variants for the choice of a certain methodology and try to find out which approach is the most suitable for this paper. Finally, we will try to justify our choice of a certain methodology.
Choosing research type
First, it is important to decide whether our research has to be primary or secondary. In case of primary research, we need to work with new data, and gain absolutely new results. In case of secondary research conducting, we can consult the already written works, compare and analyze different sources and draw our own conclusions.
The contribution of the primary research is obvious, as it opens a new door in the field of brand studying. Therefore, we will try to express our own ideas and explore the gaps in the sphere of brand image creation. However, a primary research can be a task, which can be hard to implement.
Indeed, the sphere of branding is being studied for a century, and there is barely an opportunity to write a work with completely new ideas and views. On the contrary, secondary research is based on elaborating the available sources of different authors, among whom there are professors, journalists, and specialists in the sphere of branding.
This gives a researcher a solid ground for developing the already existing ideas and summarizing the results of the works. As far as there is a multitude of works on branding, it is apparent that for our work the secondary research is the most suitable option. Thus, this dissertation is going to be based on secondary research with some elements of primary research where it is possible.
Choosing research methodology
(Dissertation & research methodology help self-help articles for dissertation students & researchers, 2007)
Among the range of available methodological approaches, we have selected the two that can be useful for our dissertation. These two approaches are qualitative and quantitative. The first research method implies application of case studies, organizing observations, use of secondary data, conducting informal interviews etc.
The other method, quantitative one, includes content analysis, experiments conduction, surveys carrying, use of secondary data, etc. As it can be seen, the both methods offer a range of tools for the material to be collected and managed. However, our task is to define which approach is more suitable for our dissertation with its specifications. To do this, we have to analyze the two research methods more deeply.
Comparing the two approaches, we need to differentiate the situations in which either of them is used as a rule. The most explicit contrast between them is that “Quantitative research is generally better at answering the “how much/many” questions, while qualitative research is better at answering the “why” questions” (Qualitative research, 2009).
Judging from this quotation, we can see that quantitative research usually deals with analysis of a certain amount of people, information, material, etc., while qualitative research is seeking for the essence of things, trying to find the reason for different phenomena happening.
At this point it becomes clear that the choice of a certain research method has to be motivated by the stakeholders we are going to deal with. Thus, it is worth to narrow down and analyze the topic of our dissertation.
Our objective is to identify branding and creating brand image for Academy of Poetry in the Gulf region and Arab world. Working on this topic requires identifying the main stakeholders, their needs and the means by which they can get what they want.
As far as all the people that might be interested in the branding process of the Academy can be called its stakeholders, they will supposedly include the Academy’s sponsors, stuff, students, and government.
Concerning the needs of the mentioned stakeholders, it is clear that all of them are interested in the Academy’s prosperity, development, cooperation with international institutions, high level of qualification, proper image, etc. In order to gain the mentioned points, the stakeholders are probably going to invest in the Academy, become its members, and try to realize their intellectual potential.
As we can see, during the general analysis of the Academy’s stakeholders we were trying to find out why some sort of people might or might not be interested in the Academy’s development, what they expect from this institution, and why are they going to support the Academy. All these questions relate to the qualitative research method.
In contrast, there were no numbers in the analysis; neither did we try to count either the stakeholders or their contributions to the Academy. Therefore, the questions of the quantitative research methods were not used. With this simple example, it becomes clear that the qualitative research method is optimal for this kind of dissertation.
Having chosen one research method among the two available, we need to analyze the chosen method thoroughly, and justify our choice. As it was mentioned, qualitative research requires case studies, observations, informal reviews, and use of secondary data.
Case studies allow analyzing the current situation in the market, exchanging experiences with other brands and learning how to manage a branding process. Concerning observation, it can be done directly or indirectly, or in either participant or non-participant manner; in addition, each of the observation techniques has overt and covert approaches. Observation is monitored, and the results serve as a basis for company’s orientation.
The use of secondary data helps to get accurate official statistics. Informal reviews are also of a great importance, as they allow analyzing the true situation among the consumers and competitors. As it can be seen, all the tools are helpful for our topic.
In order to be more adequate, we decided to find out, whether the qualitative research method is often used with the particular topic. As a result of our searching, it is being recognized that academic researches, including those on the topic of branding, are strongly connected to qualitative method rather than quantitative method.
We consulted one of the sources, where it is said that “in the case of brand management research, most studies are of the case-study type (Stake, 1994), where one, or a few, successful companies’ branding strategies are described in detail” (Belk 2006, p.92). As we analyzed the qualitative research tools, we mentioned case studies as one of the key elements for this method.
Taking into consideration this fact, it can be concluded that researches on branding in most cases are realized with the help of qualitative approach. That proved once more that the qualitative approach is the optimal methodology for our dissertation.
What is more, another source argues that “qualitative research is used when more in depth or perceptual data is required, and where it is less critical to elicit generalizable results as you would in large scale surveys.” (Qualitative market research, 2000). If to follow this rule, we urgently need this research methodology to be implemented in our study, as far as our topic is rather narrow and is focused on a concrete institution.
That is why, there is no need to make a large scale survey, but it is essential to have an individual approach to every issue occurring in the studied object. Indeed, the qualitative research method is capable of the precise analysis of the branding image creation at the Academy of Poetry and its main components.
Another reason for the selection of qualitative research for our dissertation is the fact that it is an understandable research method for a student working on dissertation. This method can guarantee an accurate plan for writing the work, effective tools, and, what is of the greatest significance, simplicity of work conducting.
The qualitative research methodology allows a student opening their intellectual potential and being involved in the study, which is often exiting. What is more, this method helps students to achieve a better pace in research development and interpretations.
Indeed, as one of the authors denotes, “Qualitative research is exploratory in nature” (The qualitative debate: The qualitative – quantitative debate, 2006). As far as working on our dissertation involves a lot of exploration, the use of qualitative methodology can be justified.
Interview guide design
Our next task is developing the stages of using the chosen approach consecutively. We decided to follow the suggestion of one of the sources, which notes that it is best to “use a combination of focus groups, one-to-one interviewers with business investors and the trade as well as future scenario workshops” (Morgan, Pritchard & Pride 2002, p.60).
Thus, the tool of the qualitative research methodology, which we have chosen as the key one, is an informal interview.
While initiating steps in branding strategy, we identified the target groups. We already concluded that the stakeholders of the Academy of Poetry include its stuff, sponsors, students and other groups of people of the same interest. That is why we find it relevant to interview these people in order to familiarize ourselves with their needs, views, ideas of the further development of the Academy and its policy, etc.
Therefore, we are intended to interview individuals as well as groups of people, which can be helpful while drawing conclusions about the current situation in the field.
In addition, there can be numerous workshops conducted with the purpose of recognition, development and utilization of the potential state of affairs. The combined applications of above mentioned tools are expected to yield the most prolific results for this dissertation.
The interviews for qualitative research serve as an effective technique of providing the paper with the illustrations and conclusions. While working on the interview design, one should bear in mind the methodological grounds. For instance, contrary to the quantitative research methodology, where the strictly structured interviews are demanded, qualitative research methodology uses informal interviews.
Their advantage is that the questions are to be of a certain issue, but can change their form in accordance with the interviewed person. This feature is rather beneficial, as it suggests that the different age groups, and people of different status and occupation are given different questions, which in fact answer the same issue.
Despite the informal character of the interview, there are still some restrictions to forming questions for it. Specifically, the selection of questions for an interview is to be made after analyzing what is required and what is to be met.
In other words, it is important to define the major issues, problems, fields of interest of the company that are going to be clarified by the questions. In addition, all the questions from the range should be relevant; otherwise, the interviewed person might be confused or distracted by unimportant details.
It is important to create an interview which will make people who answer its questions feel that their point of view is crucial for the organization. Such interviews will encourage people to give sincere answers and evaluate the situation critically, and will guarantee truthful results of the interview. Another essential point is that the interview questions are to be designed prior to arranging the interview sessions.
Indeed, the spontaneous character of the interview is unacceptable, as it cannot cover all the necessary issues once it is not well prepared. That is why in this section we are going to develop the examples of questions, which can serve as a basis for our further study.
So far, we have decided that some questions need to be composed for our interview. However, it is important to decide what type of questions is most suitable in case of our dissertation. The theoretical background of the interview structure suggests that the questions can be related to a certain issue, or can be used as a method of inspiring the interviewed people to make their own ideas.
In other words, there are two types of questions; namely, divergent and convergent. The divergent questions are those which demand from an interviewed person their own opinion about the matter. These questions usually ask how, why, when, what for something is done, etc. Divergent questions are sometimes referred to as “open”, as far as they do not restrict the individual perception of a person.
In contrast, convergent questions are those which give a person an opportunity of choosing among several available variants. This type of questions is rather limited, and suggests that an interviewed person has to decide whether they have a positive or negative attitude towards a particular issue. Convergent questions are often answered with either “yes” or “no”.
Thus, when choosing the type of questions for our interview, we were motivated by the exploratory nature of our work. In fact, a dissertation about brands and brand image demands an accurate analysis of individual needs of the consumers, as they are the target point of branding itself.
That is why in our opinion in case of working with this dissertation the use of open questions will be the most suitable. Our choice can be explained by the fact that the open questions give an interviewed a chance to express all the relevant ideas he or she has regarding a certain issue.
At this point, we have analyzed the stakeholders, research methodology; we have chosen interviewing as the main tool for our research, and also we have chosen between the two available kinds of questions. Now, in order to show how the discussed theoretical basis can be applied in practice, we will try to compose some of the questions for the interview.
As it was already mentioned earlier in this paper, our dissertation is aimed at creating a positive brand image for the Academy of Poetry in the Gulf region. In order to implement a proper branding strategy for this institutions, we have to define its needs first. In fact, the needs of institution derive from the needs of its stakeholders.
So in general our task is to ask different groups of people, involved in the Academy of Poetry, what is their vision of the institution, what expectations they have about its work, and what changes they would like to implement in the Academy’s policy. However, as far as the informal character of our interview gives us an opportunity to use various forms of questions, we need to use this feature.
Having a need for working with different age groups, we can make several variants of one question related to the same issue. The implementation of this strategy will be later illustrated by some questions. One more point that has to be taken into consideration is the sequence of questions. Indeed, one of the most prominent questions is “how to organize a range of different questions in a way that would seem logical and consecutive?”.
The easiest solution for this problem is a deductive organization of the questions. In other words, we suppose that it would be rational to put the general questions first, and then consecutively complete them with questions about some specific notions, which have to be followed by the questions about details. In this way, there will be an opportunity to build up a “hierarchy” of questions, which will not confuse the interviewed.
Here we present a sample informal interview for the stakeholders of the Academy of Poetry:
- What comes to your mind when you think of the Academy of Poetry?/What essence do you think is of the Academy of Poetry?
- To what extent do you treat the Academy of Poetry to be a successful institution?/In a percentage proportion, how much per cent would you give to the advantages of the Academy’s activity, and how much to its failures?
- Among the other institutions of this type, which ones would you prefeto the Academy of Poetry?/In the hierarchical list of the institutions of this type, on what place would you put the Academy of Poetry?
- What are the main fields of the Academy’s work?/What issues do you think are the most important in the work of the Academy of Poetry?
As we can see from the given example, the questions in the interview may not necessarily be of a standard structure; the level of formality and the approach to questioning depends on the concrete type of stakeholder.
For instance, the second question, part one, can be given to a sponsor, as it demands abstract thinking and critical evaluation. The second part of the question can be given to a student, as it is easier for them to express their opinion in percentage, even if they do not have any preparation for the interview.
All in all, in this chapter we analyzed the research methodology for our dissertation. We have chosen the secondary research as a basis for our study; we also have compared the quantitative and qualitative research methods and chosen the latter as the basic method for our work.
We also concluded that interviewing is an effective tool for developing a proper branding strategy for the Academy of Poetry. Now, when all the previous points are discussed, it is high time for us to plan the dissertation’s structure. With this purpose, we will devote the next chapter to providing an outline for this paper.
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