Volume 10 (2021-22)

Each volume of Journal of Brand Strategy consists of four 100-page issues, published in print and online. Articles scheduled for Volume 10 are available to view on the 'Forthcoming content' page.

Volume 10 Number 2

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • Branding COVID vaccines: A nightmarish journey for branding practitioners?
    David Davidovic, President, pathForward

    Branding practitioners must be having bad dreams after watching products that are experiencing the highest demand ever, selling billions of units for billions of dollars and that are used by the majority of the world’s population, carry brand identities that were not conceived, researched, tested or, apparently, given even two minutes of consideration. COVID vaccines that have been authorised or approved do not carry anything close to unique, creative, constructed trademarks or brand images. They are known — and very boringly so — for the names of the companies that developed them or are commercialising them or sometimes for the underlying technology, eg ‘mRNA’. This paper reviews some of the dynamics that got us here and discusses possible implications moving forward.
    Keywords: branding, brand architecture, marketing, commercialisation, vaccines, COVID, pharmaceuticals

  • Ethical Online Advertising: Choosing the right tools for online brand safety
    Mike Hemmings, Director of Customer Insights, Oracle Advertising

    No brand owner wants their ad turning up next to unsavoury online content. With the automated daily delivery of trillions of ad impressions across the open web, brands and agencies rely on systems and tools to ensure their ad is being placed in the most appropriate contexts. Unfortunately, in the last 25 years of programmatic advertising, the tools that we rely on to protect brands have not always kept up with our desire and ability to safely spread our brand message far and wide. Tools such as keyword blocklists were once the de facto method for managing correct placement. Recently, however, media coverage on the blocking of COVID-19, progressive content and even small-scale scandals have shown how inefficient these antiquated tools can be. Blocklists use single terms to define suitability, which in turn generates broad-brushstroke stereotyping, impacting scale and accuracy of ad placement. As well as missed opportunities and poor ad placement decisioning, this type of binary approach to safety disproportionately impacts progressive content. By featuring them and the tools that act on them, brands can limit consumer exposure to valued content by defunding the publishers giving voice to these potentially progressive topics. Thankfully, there are now better ways to manage brand safety online. Contextual brand suitability tools disregard single terms and instead ascertain relevance on the basis of an understanding and appreciation of more nuanced contexts. There are several steps any brand or agency can take to begin to evolve their brand safety strategy. These steps are an important part of the journey to increase online safety while also ensuring we are not our own blocker to safer, smarter and progressive approaches to online ad placement decisions.
    Keywords: brand safety, brand suitability, blocking, contextual, advertising, programmatic

  • Right now. For tomorrow: Launching a purpose-driven sustainability brand
    Howard Breindel, Co-CEO, DeSantis Breindel

    Although corporate sustainability campaigns are common, rarely do brands begin with ecological concerns, rooting their identity in a pre-existing commitment to protecting our planet. ENGIE, a multinational energy and services company, sets such a project in motion in 2019, establishing a one-of-its-kind company that combined existing data and execution capabilities with consulting and analytics in order to facilitate a quicker transition to a carbon-neutral economy. Translating this driving purpose into a full brand positioning, messaging, company name, visual identity, website and launch strategy, the resulting brand, ENGIE Impact, quickly established the business as a thought leader and trusted partner in a new and vital space. As such, a comprehensive ENGIE Impact case study provides marketers and strategists with a blueprint for launching purpose-driven business-to-business (B2B) brands.
    Keywords: corporate social responsibility, sustainability transformation, brand naming, brand launch, energy & utilities, B2B branding

  • Suspense and a sports league’s brand revitalisation: Initiatives of the PGA Tour
    John Fortunato, Professor, Fordham University

    Suspense when witnessing sports games is predicated and enhanced by outcome uncertainty, a rooting interest and awareness of the consequences that result from the competition. Having these suspense dimensions present produces an emotional experience that heightens audience interest and motivates the behaviour that leads to economic opportunities for a sports league. At times, brands need to reposition and revitalise themselves to construct new relevance that can affect consumers’ knowledge, interest and appreciation of the brand. This essay argues that a sports league’s brand revitalisation needs to be driven by creating the conditions for the audience to experience suspense. A sports league can create suspense through its competitive system, its brand availability and its approach to gambling. The actual initiatives of one sports league are examined to demonstrate how suspense is being created. The Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour is profiled because it introduced several initiatives to create the conditions for the audience to experience suspense.
    Keywords: suspense theory, outcome uncertainty, brand repositioning, storylines, PGA Tour

  • Giving flight to an authentic purpose: How Aflac transformed its mascot into an icon for childhood cancer patients
    Carol Cone, CEO and Kristin Kenney, Senior Associate, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE

    My Special Aflac Duck is an award-winning social robot for children with cancers. Modelled after Aflac Incorporated’s iconic duck mascot, My Special Aflac Duck was developed by social impact agency Carol Cone ON PURPOSE and R&D shop Sproutel to meet the social-emotional needs of paediatric cancer patients during their average 1,000 days of treatment. The initiative, which is part of the broader Aflac Childhood Cancer Campaign, was created to support Aflac’s reputational and brand goals, building on more than two decades of commitment to paediatric cancer research and treatment. Additionally, Aflac sought to make a direct patient impact through technology and innovation, moving beyond traditional corporate citizenship to align purpose, values, brand and product in a never-before-seen execution. Readers will learn how Carol Cone ON PURPOSE developed crisp criteria around Aflac’s objectives, partnered with Sproutel to develop the duck based on the specific needs of children, launched the initiative to media in an unexpected way, supported roll-out in hospitals across the United States and helped Aflac achieve significant brand and business lifts.
    Keywords: corporate social responsibility, corporate reputation, purpose, authenticity

  • Positioning a brand as an internet meme: The case study of ‘Supreme’
    Jay I. Sinha, Associate Professor, Fox School of Business, Temple University

    This paper develops the idea of how brands can be positioned as internet memes and why the strategy is even more timely and relevant in the current marketing landscape. A meme is defined as a unit of cultural transmission that evolves and mutates as it replicates from person to person. An internet meme is of great relevance today owing to the shareable aspect of social media and from the latter’s dominance among the youth. Companies that manage to position their brands as successful memes stand to gain positive externalities. Instead of engaging in expensive push marketing, they can co-opt the volition and creativity of the brand followers themselves to adapt and transmit the brand’s symbols and beliefs to their peers in the online space and further popularise the brand. The strategy can also backfire since the company perforce has to relinquish control over the brand’s interpretations and symbolism to the online users. The example of the youth fashion brand Supreme is offered as a case study to highlight online memetic positioning tactics and their resulting benefits and challenges. The paper concludes by providing implications for marketing managers from this contemporaneous approach to brand positioning.
    Keywords: brand, internet meme, positioning, Supreme, online brand community, social media

  • Towards a better application of brand values
    Francisco J. Conejo, PhD, Senior Marketing Instructor and Researcher, University of Colorado — Denver

    Despite the copious literature, the nature of values remains conceptually vague, being understood in different ways. Values are misconstrued by both academics and laypeople alike as whatever they choose them to mean. The former is no small issue as without knowing what exactly is meant readers understand the literature only partially. This misunderstanding may then lead to suboptimal applications of what authors pieces advocate for. At a broader level, specifying the values construct is essential for research and theory to develop in correct and coherent directions. Without getting too technical, this paper serves as a brief introduction (or refresher) to what values are, which ones are most common and how they might be better applied. By clarifying the values construct, the paper aims to improve practice. A better understanding of values stands to enhance segmentation, positioning and differentiation, rendering tactical branding efforts more effective.
    Keywords:brand, meaning, values, Schwartz, marketing, psychology

  • Brand iconisation in the social media era
    Brian Whelan, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Western Carolina University

    Branding is the method by which companies create an identity for their products or services, with the aim of forming a deep emotional connection with their consumers, and iconic brands enjoy intensely loyal consumer bases with high emotional attachment levels; however, the rapid proliferation of social media and user-generated content is shifting the way in which consumers, particularly younger consumers, interact with brands. If companies fail to manage this changing paradigm properly, today’s iconic brands may find themselves relegated to the historical archive of failed brand icons — a cautionary tale to those brands seeking to rise to iconic status in the social media era. The goal of this paper is to illuminate the changing paradigm of iconic brand creation in an increasingly socially connected world, and stimulate discussion around understanding the influence of consumer-driven social media activity on iconic brand creation.
    Keywords:branding, user-generated social media content, iconic brands, social media, consumer perceptions, emotional brand attachment

  • Tales from Cinderella Castle: Examining fandom and rivalry within Disney
    Cody T. Havard, Associate Professor, The University of Memphis, et al.

    The current study investigated fandom and rivalry towards Disney’s and Universal’s theme parks. In particular, fans of Disney’s theme parks were asked to report their attitudes towards each brand, along with their perceptions and behaviours towards Universal’s theme parks. Results showed that participants reported higher attitudes towards Disney’s theme parks than towards Universal’s theme parks. Further, identification with Disney positively influenced attitudes towards Disney’s theme parks and more support for and likelihood of attending Universal’s theme parks. Identification with Disney, however, also led to more negative impressions of Universal’s fan behaviour and prestige, greater excitement when Disney compares favourably with Universal and a higher likelihood of celebrating a perceived failure by Universal. Finally, participants that reported being fans of both Disney and Universal were more positive with regard to rival perceptions and behaviours. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed, along with areas for future study.
    Keywords:rivalry, consumer rivalry, brand communities, brand rivalry, in-group bias, intergroup relations

Volume 10 Number 1

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • Brand storytelling in the age of artificial intelligence
    Manos Spanos, SVP Brand Marketing, Yogurt BU, Danone North America

    Around 640 million unique items of branded content are posted every day, yet 87 per cent of branded content has no significant engagement. As many as 90 of the top 100 brands have lost market share since 2015 — and 62 per cent have declining revenues. To respond effectively, brands must combine human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI) to tell better stories, with better targeting and better creative execution. Three case studies illustrate this: first, Danone North America’s (DNA’s) partnership with Public Good to raise awareness of DNA’s brand, Happy Family Organics, via AI-powered contextual targeting to encourage parents to take action promoting sustainability — which earned a 1.79 per cent participation rate. Next, a digital campaign by DNA’s Light + Fit built with iteratively optimised video content, which leveraged AI to perfect both the ad itself and its targeted deployment online, leading to a drastic increase in brand awareness. Finally, a Super Bowl commercial whose concept was hatched by one irreplaceably creative human. Only 6 weeks later, thanks to an AI-accelerated approach, the ad was ready for release — earning more than 40 million unique views across digital platforms — with zero television ad buy. This paper analyses how storytelling matters more than ever. It encourages brands to show up, stand out and deliver.
    Keywords: training, trust, transparency, inspiring leadership, empathy, compassion, storytelling, artificial intelligence, AI, power of AI

  • Sonic branding: The value of intentional audio in the new normal
    Audrey Arbeeny, Founder/Executive Producer, Audiobrain

    Recently, there has been a surge in interest in sonic branding, this untapped, valuable communication tool, and its ability to enhance customer experiences. Why are brands such as KitchenAid, Toshiba, Kentucky Fried Chicken and others investing in sonic branding? What is driving this brand imperative to new heights? 2020 has been a game-changing year. Businesses have had to adopt new ways of operating, employees are working remotely and students are facing distanced learning. At the same time, technology has advanced to deliver exceptional sonic communications. We are in a voice-first/sound-first world. And that will not change, even when the pandemic is under control. This is the new normal and everyone must adapt. This paper shares insights on what sonic branding is and why creating your proprietary sound is a brand imperative. You will learn how to: create valuable brand equity using sonic branding; elevate your brand through music, sound and voice; make your brand more relevant by embracing today’s technology; bring empathy and emotion to your brand’s narrative; improve your ROI by creating a sonic system that is flexible, sustainable and authentic; and most importantly, understand this new shift and what can be done to build a successful future.
    Keywords: sonic branding, voice-first/sound-first, emerging technologies, sonic DNA, audio ROI, audio touchpoints

  • We will not stop until the world dreams in cheese: Redefining the Wisconsin cheese brand
    Suzanne Fanning, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin/Wisconsin Cheese

    This paper analyses Wisconsin Cheese’s way out of the branding problem it had five years ago. It discusses how Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin decided to rebuild the brand from the ground up. Consumers’ perceptions used to revolve around big, boring blocks of factory cheddar instead of the reality of more than 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese that are made in Wisconsin. The hardest thing a brand can undertake is to go from mass to class. Wisconsin wins more awards for cheese than any other state or country. Needs were identified to build a strong and consistent brand, to be better storytellers to the world and to build authentic relationships with real cheese lovers. With a new logo, new websites, a more creative corporate culture, relationships with Food Fanatics who help drive the speciality cheese marketplace and increased media presence, Wisconsin announced itself, and proved itself, as the State of Cheese. Now, sales of Wisconsin speciality cheese outpace all others in that category, Wisconsin Cheese has more website visitors than ever before, they achieved over US$40m in national and local media mentions in the last year, they have brand ambassadors in all 50 states and are on page one for Google searches for ‘cheese’. This paper details how they did it.
    Keywords: Wisconsin, cheese, brand, public relations, relationships, branding, marketing, community, word of mouth, social media

  • Using crisis and emergency risk communication theory to inform online communication during the COVID-19 pandemic
    Cathy Whitlock, Associate Vice President of Online Communications, Parkinson’s Foundation and Amanda Hicken, National Director of Brand Strategy and Integrated Marketing, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation

    This paper serves as a case study showcasing how two health-focused non-profit organisations, the Parkinson’s Foundation (PF) and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF), applied the principles from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) theory across online channels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each organisation leveraged online communication strategies to help its vulnerable patient population navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously working to ensure its organisation’s survival.
    Keywords: crisis communication, non-profit, COVID-19, health communication

  • Brand audit: A case study of Lacasa in Spain
    Phani Adidam, Executive Education Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha and Irene F. Shaker, Assistant Professor, Misr International University

    Assessing a brand’s health is a critical task for any company and brand manager. Several approaches have been offered by various scholars and consultants; however, Keller’s approach to assessing brand health via conducting a formal brand audit remains one of the most robust methods. In this paper, we adopt the brand audit approach and investigate the Spanish chocolate brand Lacasa. In conclusion, we offer three concrete recommendations to Lacasa’s brand managers.
    Keywords: brand audit, brand equity, brand resonance

  • Rebranding a corporate spin-off: Can a new brand name inherit global brand reputation?
    Rian Beise-Zee, Professor of Marketing and Branding, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan and Beat Wäfler, Adjunct Faculty, Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands

    Corporate brand name changes are often involuntary as a result of mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs. In these cases the rebranding campaign aims at transferring the substantial brand equity of its established brand name to a new brand name. On the basis of the case of the spin-off of Holcim’s subsidiary in Vietnam, this paper identifies the success factors of collateral rebranding. After the cement maker Holcim left the Vietnam market, it spun off its subsidiary, which needed to change its brand name. The ensuing rebranding campaign showed that a trusted global brand can be substituted with a new brand name without loss of brand premium. This paper identifies three key drivers of successful collateral rebranding of a global brand: a total focus on the message of consistency of the branded entity, a consistent tangible representation of the brand entity and a global positioning of the new brand. It proposes that perception of consistency of the brand entity can be communicated through the visual similarity of the old and new brands, the maintenance of distributors and facilities and the continuation of management and sales staff.
    Keywords: rebranding, brand name change, brand equity transfer, emerging markets

  • A consumer-centric framework to develop insights for effective integrated marketing communications campaigns
    JoAnn Sciarrino, Isabella Cunningham Endowed Chair in Advertising and Director and John Prudente, Senior Research Associate, The University of Texas at Austin

    While the idea behind insight creation for integrated marketing communications (IMC) in the advertising and marketing industry has been around for decades, there has always been a shroud of mystery behind the actual creation. Often described as ‘more art than science’, insights creation has long been thought of as an unteachable skill.1 Through the use of a consumer-centric framework, this paper examines whether advertising and marketing professionals are able to harness necessary facts to explore, understand and develop a meaningful consumer insight. Based on depth interviews and case studies, the results suggest that practitioners need to uncover important ‘learnable’ components related to business, brand, culture and audience, while also relying on internal mechanisms such as judgment, interpretation and creativity to guide decision-making. The proposed consumer-centric insight development tool enables a fresh look at the learnable components to develop insights for new IMC work.
    Keywords: integrated marketing communications, advertising insights, consumer-centric marketing framework, brand strategy, insight development, marketing insight