Brand building for small and medium sized companies
1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
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Small and medium sized companies represent 99% of businesses in the European Union and provide two thirds of the total private jobs. Despite the importance of SMEs category, there is scarce literature that covers the topic of brand creation in SMEs context. Knowing that SMEs have specific characteristics and encounter different kind of problems than large corporations, there is a clear need to create a better understanding about brand creation in SMEs environment. The purpose of this study is to describe brand creation and brand building activities of six companies from Oulu area. Besides that, topics that are considered important in brand creation process, as perceived relevance of branding and most often encountered errors are also covered. The study was done using qualitative methods. The research was implemented as a case study, in which in-depth interviews with representatives of companies and investigation of company websites, press releases were main sources for acquiring empirical data. Theory development was done using abductive reasoning. Present study gives concise information about most important aspects of branding, together with several easy to follow solutions for brand creation. Empirical analysis offers an overview of contemporary branding practices employed by SMEs. It points out significant changes in attitudes towards branding among SMEs owners/managers. It shows that branding is perceived as an important activity that have potential to bring future benefits for firms. Modern entrepreneurs are aware of branding and make visible efforts in creating meaningful brands starting from early stage of development of firms. They tend to consult firm’s stakeholders and use professional help for the design of visual elements. SMEs owner still plays an instrumental role in defining and managing the brand, but in our days, he is helped by at least one employee. SMEs from Oulu area tend to use unconventional branding activities, like using products created and produced under own name, participation in professional events and fairs, PR activities and social media. Focusing branding activities towards a wrong target is reported to be one of the biggest error in branding. Entrepreneurs that know little about branding, because learning from real-life situations might provide a useful tool to deal with actual problems. Scholars that study entrepreneurship, because it offers fresh information about branding practices.
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