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Literature review & theoretical framework Essay

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In contemporary business environments, small independent organisations are often faced with significant pressures to survive market competitiveness (Abimbola, 2001; Bristow, et, al, 2002; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Accordingly, in order to compete with prevailing competitors, many businesses employ branding as a key strategy to establish a positive reputation in the marketplace (Abimbola, 2001; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Ueno, 2010). Subsequently, Lin, et, al (2010) as well as Souiden, et, al (2006) postulate that further in-depth studies are needed to investigate how branding can assist companies to achieve their organisational presence in the marketplace. Consequently, as there is inadequate research on branding literature, this study helped to establish a comprehensive understanding regarding the effectiveness of branding for small independent organisations.

Therefore, this management report addressed the main research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create its presence in the marketplace?’ Accordingly, this investigation aimed to establish how branding can be implemented as a crucial strategic tool by small companies to gain a competitive advantage. To achieve the objective of this study, this management report adopted a case study design, including mixed methods to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. Similarly, a focus group and a semi-structured face-to-face interview were used to collect qualitative information, while survey questionnaires were employed to assemble quantitative data. The methodology used during this analysis was regarded as the most appropriate due to the fact that the mixed methods helped to significantly explore the perspectives of the participants, in accordance the research question (Bell & Bryman, 2011)

Furthermore, the open coded method was employed to analyse data collected and which also allows researchers to assemble the core findings into conceptual categories (Neuman, 2006). Moreover, four key findings were emerged from the investigation and which were perceived to be critical variables that need to be considered, in regards to the research question (Abimbola, 2001; Ruzzier & Ruzzier, 2009; Welch & Jackson, 2007, Wilden, et, al, 2010). The key findings included corporate branding strategy, brand equity in terms of brand awareness and loyalty, the influence of staff and customers and the implication of branding in the marketplace.

Overall, this study outlined an in-depth understanding towards the

constructive relationship between branding and competitive advantages, focusing on a small independent company.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
In acknowledgements, I would like to sincerely express my gratitude to my dissertation supervisor, Miss Angela Bowles. Throughout this dissertation process, she has shown great commitment and enthusiasm towards her profession and has continually advised and encouraged me through her diligent support. I am grateful and appreciate her endless assistance and fortitude. In addition, I would like to thank my family, friends and work colleagues who have helped me throughout the process of this study and the completion of my degree.

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Table of Contents

Page Numbers

CHAPTER ONE
…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7 INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7 1.1

Background …………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

1.2

Research Question …………………………………………………………………………………. 7

1.3

Justification of the Study………………………………………………………………………….. 8

1.4

Limitation of the Study …………………………………………………………………………….. 8

1.5

The Structure of the Paper ………………………………………………………………………. 9

1.6

Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 9

CHAPTER TWO ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11 LITERATURE REVIEW ……………………………………………………………………………………… 11 2.1

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………. 11

2.2

Nature and Purpose of Branding …………………………………………………………….. 11

2.3

The Strategic Role of Branding ……………………………………………………………….. 12

2.3.1

Marketing and Brand Equity …………………………………………………………….. 12

2.3.2

Brand Awareness …………………………………………………………………………… 13

2.3.3

Brand Loyalty ………………………………………………………………………………… 13

2.4

Branding and Stakeholders ……………………………………………………………………. 14

2.4.1

Internal Stakeholder – Employees …………………………………………………….. 14

2.4.2

External Stakeholder – Customers ……………………………………………………. 15

2.5

Managing Corporate Branding………………………………………………………………… 16

2.5.1

Market Competitiveness ………………………………………………………………….. 17

2.6

Conceptual Framework …………………………………………………………………………. 17

2.7

The Gaps in the Literature ……………………………………………………………………… 18

2.8

Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

CHAPTER THREE ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 20 METHODOLOGY ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 20 3.1

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………. 20

3.2

Research Paradigms and Philosophies ……………………………………………………. 20

3.3

Research Design
………………………………………………………………………………….. 21

3.3.1
3.4

Research Approach – Deductive ………………………………………………………. 21

Mixed Methods …………………………………………………………………………………….. 22

3.4.1

Qualitative …………………………………………………………………………………….. 22

3.4.2

Quantitative …………………………………………………………………………………… 23

3.5

Research methods ……………………………………………………………………………….. 23

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3.5.1

Semi-structured Face-to-face Interview ……………………………………………… 24

3.5.2

Focus Group …………………………………………………………………………………. 24

3.5.3

Questionnaire Surveys ……………………………………………………………………. 25

3.6

Population Sampling …………………………………………………………………………….. 25

3.7

Ethical Considerations …………………………………………………………………………… 26

3.8

Validity and Reliability of study ……………………………………………………………….. 27

3.9

Conclusion
………………………………………………………………………………………….. 28

CHAPTER FOUR ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29 DATA ANALYSIS & FINDINGS ………………………………………………………………………….. 29 4.1

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………. 29

4.2

Data Analysis ………………………………………………………………………………………. 29

4.3

Overview of Findings …………………………………………………………………………….. 30

4.3.1

Corporate Branding ………………………………………………………………………… 30

4.3.2

Implication of Brand Awareness ……………………………………………………….. 33

4.3.3

Implication of Brand Loyalty …………………………………………………………….. 34

4.3.4

Stakeholders & Branding …………………………………………………………………. 36

4.3.5

Market Competitiveness & Branding …………………………………………………. 38

4.5

Summary of Findings…………………………………………………………………………….. 40

4.6

Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 40

CHAPTER FIVE…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 42 DISCUSSIONS & IMPLICATIONS ………………………………………………………………………. 42 5.1

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………. 42

5.2

Discussion of Key Results ……………………………………………………………………… 42

5.2.1

Key Finding One – Corporate Branding Strategy …………………………………. 43

5.2.2
Key Finding Two – Significance of Brand Equity in Terms of Brand Awareness and Brand Loyalty ………………………………………………………………………. 44 5.2.3

Key Finding Three – Impact & Influence of Stakeholders ……………………… 45

5.2.4

Key Finding Four – Implication of Branding in the Marketplace ……………… 45

5.3

Summary of Key Findings & Managerial Proposition ………………………………….. 46

5.4

Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 47

CHAPTER SIX …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 49 CONCLUSIONS ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 49 6.1

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………. 49

6.2

Summary of the Study …………………………………………………………………………… 49

6.2.1

Addressing the Research Question …………………………………………………… 49

6.2.2

Methodology of the Study & Data Analysis …………………………………………. 50

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6.2.3

Key Findings & Discussions …………………………………………………………….. 50

6.3

Limitations of the Study …………………………………………………………………………. 51

6.4

Future Research…………………………………………………………………………………… 51

6.5

Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 52

7.0

REFERENCES LIST …………………………………………………………………………………… 53

8.0

APPENDICES LIST ……………………………………………………………………………………. 59

8.1

Appendix 1 – Permission Letter to Organisation …………………………………………… 59

8.2

Appendix 2 – Permission Letter from Organisation ……………………………………….. 60

8.3

Appendix 3 – Conceptual Framework …………………………………………………………. 61

8.4

Appendix 4 – Interview Summary……………………………………………………………….. 62

8.5

Appendix 5 – Internal Qualitative Research Summary …………………………………… 64

8.6

Appendix 6 – Focus Group Summary …………………………………………………………. 66

8.7

Appendix 7 – Qualitative Analysis – Graphs Workouts …………………………………… 67

8.8

Appendix 8 – External Quantitative Research ………………………………………………. 68

8.9

Appendix 9 – Internal Qualitative Research …………………………………………………. 71

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CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1

Background
In modern management literature, branding has become one of the critical

techniques over the last decade (Abimbola, 2001; Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Berthon, et, al, 2011; Delgado-Ballester, et, al, 2001; Lin et al, 2010; Souiden, et, al, 2006; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Similarly, many researchers emphasise that branding is being implemented to achieve competitive advantages and lasting presence in the marketplace (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Bristow, et, al, 2002; Martin & Guerin, 2006; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011; Ross & Harradine, 2004). Subsequently, Abimbola (2001) as well as Kimpakorn and Toquern (2010) argue that branding is a complex strategy that encompasses many influencing characteristics, including brand awareness, brand loyalty, employees’ contribution and customers’ impact. Consequently, it is imperative to effectively evaluate how these variables affect corporate branding in terms of competitive advantages (Berthon, et, al, 2011; Wilden, et, al, 2010).

However, the literature acknowledges that the majority of existing studies on branding have been, particularly, focused between the organisation and its customers for large companies or chain of companies (Abimbola, 2001; Kimpakorn & Toquern, 2010; Mehmetoglu, 2004). On the contrary, there is little empirical research that have addressed the concept of branding for small independent businesses and which has considered employees’ contribution (Abimbola, 2001; De Chernatomy, 2001; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Therefore, this management study aimed to establish how small independent organisations use branding in their corporate strategy to achieve market presence, including the related key attributes.

1.2

Research Question
Literature highlights that there is inadequate research regarding the study of branding

for small independent companies and a lack of focus on several factors that influence corporate brand name among competitors (Abimbola, 2001; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Gapp & Merrilees, 2006; Kay, 2006; Welch & Jackson, 2007, Wilden, et, al, 2010). Consequently, the main purpose of this study is to investigate the concept of branding as a key strategy to achieve competitive advantages for small self-reliant companies. Accordingly, a research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create its presence in the marketplace?’ has been formulated to conduct this management investigation. Similarly, to address the research question, this paper seeks to establish a comprehensive understanding on how a small and independent organisation implements

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branding strategy to create its position in the marketplace. Ultimately, this report aimed to explore a) the overall concept of corporate branding, b) the implications of brand equity, including brand awareness and loyalty, c) the impacts of the stakeholders on a business’s brand name and d) how branding helps to gain competitive advantages and market presence . Nevertheless, a justification of the overall study is important to clarify the significance of this management research.

1.3

Justification of the Study
There are several elements that justify the overall significance of this research

investigation.

Firstly, the principle justification is this research further contributes to the

existing branding literature and provides a systematic understanding of the relationship between brand name and competitive advantages. Subsequently, this report acknowledges the key aspects of branding strategy within small companies, including brand equity and the stakeholders of the organisation. Furthermore, as argued by Mehmetoglu (2004) as well as Welch and Jackson (2007), this study is practically beneficial for other small contemporary businesses as branding is a vital strategy to survive market competition. Moreover, the findings emerged from this investigation can re-establish a useful case study which focuses on how small independent businesses use branding to achieve positive organisational outcomes in the marketplace (Abimbola, 2001; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Kunde, 2002; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011).

In addition, many researchers have argued that branding is a systematic strategy that helps many organisations to achieve constructive advantages over competitors (Baraldi & Bacconcelli, 2001; Einwiller & Will, 2002; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Pinar, et, al, 2010; Raggio & Leone, 2007; Slater & Narver, 1999). Accordingly, to achieve the purpose of this study, a single case study research design was implemented and mixed method was also employed to collect qualitative and quantitative data. Similarly, the qualitative data collection involved a focus group with the front desk employees and a semistructured face-to-face interview with the manager from the sales department. On the other hand, quantitative data were gathered through survey questionnaires that were handed to both the staff and the customers. The aim of the data collection process was to achieve diverse perspectives from different hierarchical levels in the organisation, including external perceptions as well. However, although this research holds significant prospective benefits, there are certain limitations that need to be assessed.

1.4

Limitation of the Study
Many research scholars highlight that it is critically important to identify significant

limitations in terms of reliability and validity within an investigation (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Cameron & Price, 2009; Creswell, 2003). In addition, Saunders, et, al (2007) highlight that

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as an undergraduate research study, this report may be subject to some limitations in regards to the ability to gather and analyse the data in a given period of time. Subsequently, as this investigation was focused on one specific organisation, the data gathered may be seen as inadequate, due to low generalisation of information gained (Saunders, et, al, 2007). However, as advocated by Yin (2003), the type of research strategy adopted for this investigation provided a comprehensive understanding of the related issues. Furthermore, Cameron and Price (2009) argue that it is also important to consider the size of both the population sample and the organisation. Nonetheless, as this study embedded both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, firm findings have been achieved through the human-oriented qualitative data and the quantified perspectives of participants. Ultimately, for an in-depth investigation and analysis, this report comprised of six chapters overall.

1.5

The Structure of the Paper
The current chapter one is the introduction of this management study. It highlights

the research question and underlines the importance of the proposed investigation regarding the effectiveness of branding for small independent companies. Furthermore, chapter one has outlined the objectives and the main limitations of this study. Subsequently, chapter two has presented a critical analysis of existing branding literature in relation to the research question of this report. Moreover, chapter three has aimed to provide an articulate overview of the methodological issues associated with the investigation, including the sample procedures and ethical concerns. Chapter four has portrayed the data analysis methods, along with the findings of the research while chapter five has provided a comprehensive discussion of the key findings. Furthermore, chapter five discussed the key results in accordance to the reviewed literature in chapter two and has outlined the main implications of the research accordingly. Ultimately, chapter six has displayed the conclusions, limitations and possible future research for this study.

1.6

Conclusion
In conclusion, chapter one has systematically introduced and explained the purpose

of this management paper and has also displayed the fundamental aspects of the research. Similarly, this chapter has identified the research question and has highlighted the aims of the investigation accordingly. Additionally, the justification of the research has been highlighted in terms of further understanding of existing branding literature. Eventually, chapter one outlined the main limitations and the structure of the study. Overall, this management research is aimed at adding value to the current empirical studies on branding.

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However, in order to establish the gaps in branding research, a critical
analysis of the relevant and existing literature needs to be accomplished.

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CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1

Introduction
In today’s competitive business environment, branding is a fundamental concept to

any organisation and it is being used as an increasingly key strategic tool (Abimbola, 2001; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Horal, et, al, 2011; Lin et, al, 2010; Wentz & Suchard, 1993). Additionally, over the last decade, many practitioners and researches have shown significant interest regarding branding and its importance to companies (Abimbola, 2001; Berthon, et, al, 2011; Raggio & Leone, 2007; Souiden, et, al, 2006). Hence, the purpose of chapter two is to critically analyse “how can small independent businesses use branding to create their presence in the marketplace?”

According to Moller, et, al, (2008), branding is one of the most challenging business strategies that need to be effectively managed. Consequently, this chapter will also illustrate the different factors regarding branding. This includes definitions and nature of brand management as well as evaluation of the strategic role of branding in marketing and brand equity. Furthermore, the purpose of this chapter aims to assess the internal and external branding process, focusing on the employees and customers. Lastly, it highlights the economic value of a successful corporate brand which helps to generate substantial and competitive advantages to a company (De Chernatomy, 2001; Edelman, 2010; Newman & Pyne, 1996; Rooney, 1995; Timmerman, 2001).

2.2

Nature and Purpose of Branding
In an organisational context, Einwiller and Will (2002) define branding as the

systematic strategy of communication and symbolism. Moreover, Einwiller and Will (2002) also, argue that the purpose of branding is an attempt to achieve positive and constructive reputation with intended clientele for the business.

Similarly, the American Marketing

Association (2008, p 2) postulates that a brand is a “name, term, symbol, design or a combination of them, intended to identify the good and services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition”. Subsequently, it has been hypothesised that effective deployment of branding capabilities allows a firm to achieve superiority in business value appropriation (Horan, et, al, 2011; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011; Moller, et, al, 2008; Rooney, 1995).

In addition, O’Cass and Ngo (2011) also, advocate that branding capabilities enhance organisations’ performance on the marketplace which results in financial value for the business. For example, it is understood that customers are willing to pay a higher price for a particular brand name compared to a non-branded product or service although both product and service have the same degree of quality (Ross & Harradine, 2004). Hence, Horan, et, al, (2011) justify that it is important to evaluate the

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impacts and perceptions of branding given the fact that brand name brings substantial value and economic advantages to a business.

2.3

The Strategic Role of Branding
Additionally, Abimbola (2001) argues that it is important for the organisation to

continuously extend formulation and implementation of brand awareness and brand loyalty, through strategic marketing management. As a result, many authors highlight the necessity to analyse all the key mechanisms, outcomes and factors of brand management (Abimbola, 2001; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Berthon, et, al, 2011; Lin et, al, 2010; Punjaisri and Wilson, 2011; Wanhill, 1997). Thus, from the literature, marketing and brand equity are two crucial determinants that need to be evaluated so as companies can develop and implement a systematic branding approach (Abimbola, 2001; Edelman, 2010; Pennington & Ball, 2009; Timmerman, 2001).

2.3.1 Marketing and Brand Equity
In a contemporary business environment, the importance of marketing has long been recognised and corporate branding has been identified as a cognate area of marketing management (Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Berthon, et, al, 2011; Drucker, 1973; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Presas, et, al, 2011). Moreover, over the the last decade, marketing literature advocates that marketing is a core dimension of any business and that corporate marketing allows the functional process that satisfy distinctive and organisational goals (Dibb, et, al, 1991; Kotler, 1991;

McCarthy & Perreault, 1990). Accordingly, Punjaisri and Wilson (2011) also, highlight that corporate marketing establishes various business concepts such as, communications, reputation, identity, image and branding. Subsequently, Ghosh and Chakraborty (2004) as well as Taylor, et, al (2004) affirm that organisations with strong brand marketing achieve competitive advantages and eventually, high returns. Furthermore, Ruzier and Ruzier (2009) advocate that marketers play a vital part in brand building and they help to bring out a systematic approach to brand development and its implementation.

Nevertheless, Balmer and Greyser (2006) highlight that corporate brand marketing is often regarded as a philosophy rather than a function. Therefore, Aspara and Tikkanen (2008) as well as Souiden, et, al, (2006) argue that brand marketing needs to be effectively managed and the fundamental concept of brand equity should be considered. Aaker (2002) define brand equity as the perceived value of a brand name to customers and a firm. Aaker (2002) also suggests that brand equity is the perceived awareness, loyalty and quality of a product or service. Moreover, brand marketing is known as an imperative strategy that helps the organisation to align corporate value-based approach with brand equity (Tarnovskaya &

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Burt, 2008; Timmerman, 2001). In addition, Raggio and Leone (2007) highlight that brand equity is one of the largest constituted assets for a business. Consequently, it is argued by Balmer and Greyser (2006) that the elements of marketing reflect the espoused brand equity and eventually, promotes brand loyalty and awareness. Ultimately, Aspara and Tikkanen (2008) as well as Balmer and Greyser (2006) argue that organisations need to continuously expand its brand awareness to maximise its brand name in the marketplace.

2.3.2 Brand Awareness
Today, regardless of their sizes and resources, many companies are usually faced with a competitive environment and therefore, they attempt to create significant and apparent brand awareness in the marketplace (Abimbola, 2001; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011; Timmerman, 2001). Edelman (2010) argues that brand awareness is related to the ability to identify a particular brand under different conditions. Furthermore, Edelman (2010) highlight that it is vital for marketing managers to execute customerintegrated strategies in order to create a connection between the customers and the product or service. Similarly, Rooney (1995) postulates that branding is a systematic and psychological technique that helps to create perceived advantages in the minds of human beings. Subsequently, O’Malley (1991) acknowledges that this technique creates the popularity of branding which eventually, creates brand awareness. Additionally, Berry, et, al, (1988) studied brand awareness and suggest that strong branding promotes market awareness and acceptance of the product or service in question. Moreover, Ballantyne, et, al (2005) postulate that it is evident that brand should be emotionally and symbolically developed to customers in order to ensure constant awareness. However, Timmerman (2001) argues that, although, brand awareness is significantly important to marketing practitioners and marketing academics, it is, equally, vital to nurture brand campaigns in an attempt to gain brand loyalty.

2.3.3 Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty is another key conceptual factor that has received considerable attention from researchers and practitioners, due to its significant impact on brand marketing (Presas, et, al, 2011; Rooney, 1995; Timmerman, 2001). According to Wanhill (1997), brand loyalty is an opportunity to leverage entry barriers to competitors and to gain substantial growth. Similarly, Hatch and Schultz (2001) affirm that sustainable loyalty towards a brand name generates economic development for the company’s reputation. For example, a highly loyal customer base can generate predictable profitability stream and can also enhance brand equity (Aaker, 2008). Therefore, Holt (2002) as well as Pennington and Ball (2009) advocate that businesses should continuously broaden and strengthen their branding

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systems to ensure brand loyalty from customers.

Moreover, Holt (2002) discloses that

factors such as brand awareness, perceived quality, clear brand identity and communication through effective marketing strategies can generate greater brand loyalty. On the other hand, Raggio and Leone (2007) argue that brand loyalty factors should remain consistent in order to simultaneously, create value to the customers, which eventually lead to brand loyalty. Consequently, Ruzzier and Ruzzier (2009) recommend that it is imperative that firms should consider the key mechanisms, outcomes and factors that relate to brand loyalty. Accordingly, Abimbola (2001) as well as Punjaisri and Wilson (2011) postulate that the contribution of both internal and external stakeholders is a key fragment of the organisation’s branding framework.

2.4

Branding and Stakeholders

Internal and external stakeholders are, indeed, two fundamental dimensions that

need to be explored as they determine the relationship between the corporate brand and the market (Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008; Timmerman, 2001). Furthermore, Herstein and Gamliel (2006) highlight that the core values and behaviours of employees guide the brand name of the business to the external stakeholders. Similarly, Ueno (2010) argues that it is critical to evaluate both stakeholders and implement corporate branding strategies accordingly. Ultimately, Tarnovskaya and Burt (2008) emphasise that the sustainability of the external stakeholders is dependent upon the internal stakeholders as the employees contribute to the perceived reputation of the corporate brand. Hence, Tarnovskaya and Burt (2008), also, acknowledge that it is critical to coordinate and encompass employees in the company’s strategy, in an attempt to maximise brand values.

2.4.1 Internal Stakeholder – Employees
In branding literature, employees and their views on internal branding are considered as a major factor in the delivery of corporate brand identity (Ballantyne, et, al, 2005; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011). Likewise, Moroko and Uncles (2009) argue that the effective use of efficient employees can extensively link to broader corporate branding and eventually, reinforce brand identification and brand loyalty among employees. Moreover, Balmer and Gray (2003) highlight that it is the employees who deliver the core values of the organisation to its customers. Accordingly, employees are considered to be the embodiment of the corporate brand (Balmer & Gray, 2003). In addition, Tarnovskaya and Burt (2008) highlight that employees act as ambassadors of a company’s brand and eventually, translate the corporate brand values in the marketplace. Therefore, Punjaisri and Wilson (2007) as well as Wilden, et, al, (2010) also argue that the variable attitudes and behaviours of employees need to be critically analysed. Furthermore, Punjaisri

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and Wilson (2007) as well as Wilden, et, al, (2010) highlight that organisations should employ distinctive skills of their employees to achieve competitive advantages and to communicate powerful brand to their other stakeholders, particularly the customers. In contrast, De Chernatomy (2001) argues that there is only little empirical research on employees branding that has been carried out. Additionally, due to variables such as age, background and length of service, the impact of internal branding is ineffectual (De Chernatomy, 2001). Nevertheless, Tarnovskaya and Burt (2008) and as well as Kumar, et, al, (2000) explain that organisations should continuously trigger motivational factors by aligning employees with integrated corporate value-based approach. Overall, Wilden, et, al (2010) propose that businesses should endorse balanced strategies between employees and organisational activities that enhance brand promise to other stakeholders.

2.4.2 External Stakeholder – Customers
Over the last decade, another fundamental factor of corporate branding that has been explored is the customers of an organisation (Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Souiden, et, al, 2006; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Souiden, et, al, (2006) argue that organisations should acknowledge the role and interaction of customers when designing their branding strategies. Consequently, according to Tanaka (1993), customers, predominantly, affect corporate branding and are linked to companies’ goals and objectives, to a significant extent. Similarly, Rust, et, al (1995) argue that if customers’ satisfaction is increased, there is a spontaneous increase in brand awareness and brand loyalty which eventually, leads to an increase in the profitability of the business. Nguyen and Leblanc (2001), equally, highlight that customers’ evaluation is, increasingly, becoming an important hurdle that many companies need to address. Additionally, Nguyen and Leblanc (2001) also, argue that customers’ perceptions affect the credibility, image and reputation of a corporate. Hence, Keller and Aaker (1997) postulate that organisations should come forward with diverse strategies such as, building strong corporate image, increase communication efficiency, evaluate customers’ satisfaction and enhance customers’ trust in the corporate brand.

However, consumer evaluation is known to have received a rather limited attention from scholars and researches (Abimbola, 2001; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008; Wilden, et, al, 2010). On the other hand,, Balmer and Greyser (2006) justify that this external factor cannot be looked at in isolation but actually needs to be moderated through in-depth managerial implementations and corporate branding operations. Therefore, Souiden, et, al (2006) argue that marketers should inter-relate corporate branding approaches to fit customers’ demand and enhance their perceptions. Furthermore, Kimpakorn and Toquern (2010) highlight that customers, often, link the brand name according to their perceived perceptions and

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eventually, create a relationship with the corporate brand. Consequently, Kowalczyk and Pawlish (2002) as well as Olins (2000) argue that companies should create brand management framework that diminish the switching behaviour of customers. Accordingly, the literature illustrates that customers is another key audience of branding activities and it is critical to consider this important stakeholder when implementing corporate branding strategies (Nguyen & Leblanc, 2001; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011).

2.5

Managing Corporate Branding
In the past, many researches have been denoted to corporate brand management

due to its ever emerging importance and as a consequence, corporate branding is a critical concept in marketing theories (Gapp & Merrilees, 2006; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011; Ruzzier & Ruzzier, 2009; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Consecutively, Kumar, et al, (2000) emphasise that corporate branding has several essential characteristics such as clear corporate vision, channel structures, employees and customers empowerment and value creation that need to be effectively accomplished in order to achieve productive corporate branding. In addition, Carrilat, et, al (2004) as well as Hills and Sarin (2003) highlight that organisation should develop a branding culture that
encourages internal and external emphasis. According to, Balmer and Gray (2003), Hatch and Schultz (2003), Kay (2006), as well as Kunde (2002), companies can develop strong corporate brands if they effectively align their internal strategies and external networks with core organisational values and attitudes.

Moreover, Balmer and Gray (2003) as well as Kumar, et al, (2000) justify that the objective is to create a sustainable strong brand that emphasises the corporate credibility and expertise, through efficient management. Consequently, Urde (2003) as well as Burghausen and Fan (2002) argue that it is important to opt for appropriate influential brand management strategies. Overall, Urde (2003) as well as Burghausen and Fan (2002) also, highlight that the strategic prioritisation of factors such as vision, values and identity are dynamic considerations for the organisation and which eventually, evaluate competitive advantages in the marketplace. Similarly, organisations should tactically use effective approaches to manage corporate branding as it is a value-based mechanism that brings many advantages to a company (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Ballantyne, et, al, 2005; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). However, Slater and Narver (1999) postulate that branding campaigners must competently face demanding challenges such as customers’ switching behaviours, employees demotivation and fierce market competition. Nevertheless, O’Cass and Ngo (2011) argue that the practical deployment of branding capabilities and approaches enhances a business’ performance on the marketplace.

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2.5.1 Market Competitiveness
In this day and age, many organisations recognise that a successfully corporate brand creates a competitive environment and which characterise favourable goals and achievements for the business (Abimbola, 2001; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Murphy, 1988; Rooney, 1995; Wanhill, 1997). According to Hills and Sarin (2003), branding is a vital strategic tool because it develops into valuable assets and brings numerous advantages to a business. In addition, Garvin (1996) and Tarnovskaya and Burt, (2008) postulate that
brand name as an asset is regarded as customer trust, perceived quality and value. Furthermore, Garvin (1996) and Tarnovskaya and Burt, (2008) also, highlight that the perceived brand positively influence a business’s image and performance in the marketplace. Therefore, Abimbola (2001) and Broderick and Saunders (1999) identify that if a company enjoys a strong corporate brand name, this can be regarded as a source of competitive advantages in the marketplace. Abimbola, (2001) also, implies that a “brand name represents a strong communication link between a firm and the marketplace” (Abimbola, 2001, p 101).

Subsequently, Moroko and Uncles (2009) acknowledge that a well-integrated brand name contributes to an enhanced market value and bargaining power. Similarly, according to Rooney (1995), successful brand name attracts and keeps customers loyal to a company which is a sustainable technique to experience competitive advantages. Moreover, Broderick and Saunders (1999), Moroko and Uncles (2009) as well as Wanhill (1997) affirm that competitive advantages create entry barriers to emerging competitors and eventually, reinforce any potential growth for the company. However, in terms of competitive advantages, branding is, often, described as a complex multidimensional concept (Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011). On the other hand, previous studies indicate that successful brand name creates a strong organisational image that can be used to counter any challenging and competitive environment (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Carvens, et, al, 2000; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011). Ultimately, Olins (2000) as well as Wentz and Suchard (1993) postulate that competitive brand values can maintain and encourage current and potential customers and eventually uphold a competitive presence in the market place.

2.6

Conceptual Framework
Overall, the literature helps to build a conceptual model which clarifies the key

variables of brand management. Subsequently, O’Dwyer, et, al, (2009) as well
as Pinar, et, al (2010) argue that brand management is a powerful concept that represents the essence of a business which includes its strategic management, service quality and targeted audience. Additionally, the fundamental features of marketing such as its product, price,

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place, promotion, physical evidence, process and people are the key elements that need to be identified as they contribute to strengthen the corporate brand name (Carvens, et, al, 2000; Herstein and Gamliel, 2006; Pinar, et, al, 2010). Ultimately, the conceptual model (see appendix 3) displays how organisations can use corporate brand management to survive market competitiveness. Similarly, the model, systematically, shows the different factors within the framework of branding, including marketing mix, employees, brand awareness, customers and brand loyalty. Accordingly, as argued by Abimbola (2001) as well as Ueno (2010), the systematic implementation of the inter-related factors contributes to sustainable competitive advantages for businesses.

2.7

The Gaps in the Literature
Within the literature, this chapter aimed to establish multiple arguments in terms of

branding and its correlated elements. However, many authors highlight that there are several gaps in branding literature and have advocated that there are many potential areas that can further be explored (Abimbola, 2001; Baraldi & Bacconcelli, 2001; Carvens, et al, 2000; Rooney, 1995; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Moreover, O’Cass and Ngo (2011) as well as Punjaisri and Wilson (2011) highlight the fact that a research can be deficient as there are many shifting factors that equally, need to be considered. An example of the shifting factors can be behavioural changes in customers (Kimpakorn & Toquern, 2010; Souiden, et, al, 2006). Likewise, O’Cass and Ngo (2011) as well as Punjaisri and Wilson (2011) postulate that cultural difference,
political boundaries and variable consumers’ perspectives may have potential impacts on the validity of the research used. In addition, Souiden, et, al, (2006), argue that there is a lack of specific methodology in regards to certain issues such as, technological impact on branding. Consequently, the rationale of the research used can again be deficient for the purpose of this literature. Hence, the aim of this paper was to focus on branding and its strategic implications, including the role of marketing, employees and customers Moreover, it was an attempt to establish a comprehensive study of how corporate brand can formulate the success of an organisation (Abimbola, 2001; Carvens, et, al, 2000; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Lin, et, al, 2010; Ruzzier & Ruzzier, 2009).

2.8

Conclusion
In conclusion, the literature review related to the fundamental concept of branding

and its simultaneous effects on an organisation and eventually, how businesses use branding to create their presence on the marketplace (Abimbola, 2001; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Carvens, et, al, 2000; Newman & Pyne, 1996; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Moreover, chapter two highlighted the critical relationships between corporate branding, stakeholders and market competitiveness. Accordingly, many authors consider that marketing is a key

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organisational tool which businesses need to exploit to achieve brand equity (Abimbola, 2001; Balmer & Gray, 2003; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Balmer and Gray (2003) also, advocate that the philosophy of brand equity can be reinforced by brand awareness and brand loyalty. Likewise, Raggio and Leone (2007) as well as Wilden, et, al, (2010) consider that brand equity does not completely relate to marketing but to other key factors that influence corporate brand. Therefore, according to Abimbola (2001), alternative factors that need to be investigated are the stakeholders of the
organisation, particularly, the employees and the customers. In addition, Abimbola (2001) highlights that the strategic mentalities and behaviours expressed by employees and customers can, indeed, create core values for a firm.

On the other hand, some authors underline that effective brand management put forth corporate credibility and expertise that generate success of the brand name (Carvens, et al, 2000; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Furthermore, Abimbola (2001) as well as Timmerman (2001) highlight that successful branding, positively, influences the value and identity of the organisation and which eventually determine competitive advantages for the business.

Overall, the literature

emphasises on the different dimensions that shape the corporate brand in the marketplace such as, brand equity, stakeholders, strategic marketing and market competitiveness. Additionally, Rooney (1995) as well as Wanhill (1997) advocate that these factors have a major contribution to the organisation’s goals and objectives, in terms of branding. However, other authors argue that the above mentioned factors are variable and as a consequence, the factors can either intensify or diminish the corporate brand name (Newman & Pyne, 1996; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011; Timmerman, 2001). Therefore, organisations should employ marketing techniques which continuously, enhance corporate branding in the future (Carrilat, et, al, 2004; Gapp & Merrilees, 2006; Hills & Sarin, 2003; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Subsequently, chapter three will present a methodical analysis on the relationship between corporate branding and market competitiveness, including the role of stakeholders for a business.

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CHAPTER THREE
METHODOLOGY
3.1

Introduction
The previous chapter provided key analysis of the literature which related to the

evaluation of branding and its importance to small businesses in the marketplace. Therefore, to examine the main question of “how can small independent businesses use branding to create their presence in the marketplace?” It is important to assess the research issues and techniques that have been employed in this study. Similarly, Blumberg, et, al (2008) as well as Timmerman, (2001) argue that the rationale of the project should be based on the question that is being investigated and it is necessary to provide a comprehensive overview of the research methodology. Consequently, this chapter aims to examine the research paradigm and philosophy and to justify the research design and its different approaches adopted for the study. Eventually, the validity and reliability of the data collected have been outlined. Ultimately, the population sampling and the ethical considerations of the study have also been illustrated. Nevertheless, it is critical to establish the research paradigms and philosophies initially, as they are primary aspects of methodology (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Kameda, 2005).

3.2

Research Paradigms and Philosophies
Management researchers have argued that a research paradigm is an important

framework which determines multiple theoretical research philosophies (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Creswell, 2003; Hamilton, 1994; Healy & Perry, 2000). Furthermore, Creswell (2003) as well as Healy and Perry (2000) postulate that there are three typologies of research philosophies which are known as ontology, epistemology and methodology. Subsequently, Creswell (2003) defines ontology as assumptions that are existent and which are often regarded as a reality. On the other hand, Healy and Perry (2000) describe epistemology as the relationship between that existent assumption or reality and the researcher. Creswell (2003) further highlights that epistemology is the scientific knowledge that a researcher retains in the study of a particular field. Lastly, methodology refers to the method which has been used to collect and examine data within an analysis (Kameda, 2005). Moreover, literature highlights that there are four fundamental research paradigms which are used in social sciences researches, including positivism, pragmatism, constructivism and realism (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Healy & Perry, 2000). In this management research, the realism paradigm was adopted as this approach discloses strong associations with multi perceptions based research techniques (Kameda,

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2005; Perry, et al, 1999). Accordingly, this report aimed to explore the significance of branding through the perceptions of the employees, customers and a marketing manager within a particular organisation. Similarly, Johnson, et, al (2007) argue that realism paradigm allows researchers to utilise multiple perceptions of participants through many methods and sources of data such as interviews and surveys. However, it is critical to evaluate the research design in order to establish a framework for the collection and analysis of data (Creswell, 2003).

3.3

Research Design
Research scholars highlight that the research design is a fundamental aspect to any

study and which encompasses detailed process of data collection in order to achieve the most valid findings for the project (Collis & Hussey, 2009; Hair, et, al, 2011; Vogt, 1993). Moreover, Bell and Bryman (2011) as well as Hair, et, al (2011) argue that the research design entails a framework of principles which is relevant to the requirements of the question and the researcher. Subsequently, Saunders, et, al (2007) highlight that the project should associate both the strategy and the approach within its design. However, Grafton, et, al (2011) argue that there are five different types of
research designs such as experimental design, cross-sectional design, longitudinal design, case study design and comparative design. Consequently, it is crucial to effectively evaluate the research design, in accordance to the methodology in order to meet the purpose of the study (Collis & Hussey, 2009; Grafton, et, al, 2011). Overall, this report seeks to investigate the importance of branding for small businesses in the marketplace. Therefore, a case study design has been adopted for this literature as this type of design provides a comprehensive understanding of a process and allows researchers to assess complex questions and data (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Cameron & Price, 2009). In addition, Lee and Lings (2008) highlight that case study design is opened to multiple interpretations of data and allows scientific analysis of facts and propositions. On the other hand, having justified the use of a case study design for this study, it is also critical to identify the research approach (Creswell, 2007).

3.3.1 Research Approach – Deductive
Contemporary researchers argue that there are inductive and deductive approaches to research which help to build a theory and to test an existing hypothesis, respectively (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Cameron & Price, 2009; Creswell, 2003; Saunders, et, al, 2007). However, Creswell (2003) argues that it is important to determine which research approach to employ for a study. Consequently, as this report aimed to gain verification of the existing hypothesis on the importance of branding, the deductive approach was the most appropriate for this literature (Abimbola, 2001; Blumberg, et, al, 2008; Collis & Hussey, 2009; Lin, et, al, 2010).

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Bell and Bryman (2011) as well as Evans and Mathur (2006) postulate that deductive approach allows researchers to gain confirmation on tested hypothesis and eventually, guides empirical research enquiry. However, although deductive approach appears as a linear process, Bell and Bryman (2011) highlight that a researcher’s view of the literature is subject to change due to new theoretical findings. Nevertheless, deductive approach is considered as an effective explanatory tool which examines a theory to
deduce an ultimate reasoning (Collis & Hussey, 2009; Powers & Valentine, 2009). Ultimately, to achieve the objective of this report, mixed methods were used to investigate the perspectives on the research question.

3.4

Mixed Methods
Over several decades, many researchers have adopted mixed methods to examine

social sciences (Grafton, et, al, 2011; Gummesson, 2000). Accordingly, Grafton, et, al (2011) argue that mixed methods are conceptualised across two key methods which are qualitative and quantitative research methods. Moreover, mixed methods allow management researches to analyse variance range of methodological data and eventually, develop further validity of key hypotheses (Grafton, et, al, 2011; Hair, et, al, 2011). Conversely, Hair, et, al (2011) highlight that mixed methods can also lead to a less formal conceptual framework as this method includes a combination of approaches and perceptions. However, mixed methods are considered as a necessary part of theory development as they are often linked or supplement each other (Ihantola & Kihn, 2011). Therefore, both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods have been employed in this study to achieve an enhanced understanding of the research through the use of different methodologies (Wiley, 1997).

3.4.1 Qualitative
Literature suggests that qualitative approach has a significant affiliation with the investigation of particular issues and also facilitates comprehensive understanding of a research (Ekanem, 2007; Gummesson, 2000; Saunders, et, al, 2007). In addition, Hair, et, al (2011) highlight that qualitative data is achieved through some type of unstructured interviews or observations and by probing the values and perceptions of respondents. Cameron and Price (2009) further argue that qualitative research provides liberal contextual data that can be used to further assess a phenomenon and even, promote theory development.

Additionally, Gummesson, (2000) as well as Khatri and Budhwar (2002)

postulate that qualitative research is based upon subjective techniques which derive inductive epistemological assumptions and logics that are useful to researchers.

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Similarly, the qualitative approach has been employed in this study as it is a vital strategy which is extensively based upon individual’s beliefs and values and which eventually leads to constructive investigation (Crouch & McKenzie, 2009; Ihantola & Kihn, 2011). On the other hand, Saunders, et, al (2007) argue that qualitative research entails some limitations such as time consumption, sample size restrictions and questions the overall feasibility of the research. Therefore, it is argued that management researchers need to systematically combine both qualitative and quantitative research strategies (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Creswell, 2003). Consequently, in this project, quantitative research was integrated to rationalise an in-depth critical analysis of the literature (Creswell, 2003; Crouch & McKenzie, 2009).

3.4.2 Quantitative
Quantitative methodology has been a key practice within the history of management research and organisations (Cassell & Symon, 2006; Grafton, et, al, 2011; Powers & Valentine, 2009). Subsequently, it is argued that quantitative research acknowledges comparative dimensions of perspectives through structured data collection techniques and eventually, provides summarised information on many attributes (Greig, 2003; Hair, et, al, 2011; Janes, 1999). Furthermore, Greig (2003) as well as Woodside and Wilson (2003) postulate that quantitative research is an effective method of probing deeply into an issue to assess fundamental insights of concepts and variables. In contrast, Yin (2003) postulates that quantitative research generally quantifies data for specific variables at a specific time. Therefore, the research can be faced with certain ambiguities and limitations (Yin, 2003). Nevertheless, quantitative research has been implemented in this report as quantified data provide flexible statistical
analysis and true value of propositions (Cameron & Price, 2009). Ultimately, Greig (2003) highlights that it is fundamental to identify relevant qualitative and quantitative research methods that are effective for the purpose of a study.

3.5

Research methods
Research method is defined as a technique that is used to collect data to achieve

determined and multiple analyses for an investigation (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Johnson, et, al, 2007). Similarly, for the purpose of this management study, the research methods that have been employed are one semi-structured face-to-face interview, one focus group and two different survey questionnaires. Cameron and Price (2009) identify interviews and focus groups as key qualitative research strategies while Yin (2003) highlights that survey questionnaires are effective quantified methods. Additionally, this literature would gain comprehensive understanding of the research question through data triangulation which is

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the implementation of multiple sources of data that arise from a varied range of different sources (Cameron & Price, 2009).

3.5.1 Semi-structured Face-to-face Interview
Research suggests that interviews are often regarded as

prominent methods to

collect qualitative data among many social science researchers (Creswell, 2003; Crouch & McKenzie, 2009). It is also argued by Bell and Bryman (2011) that, interviews are often opted to retrieve deep understanding and perceptions and can, equally, include miscellaneous types of questions such
as close, open or fixed questions. As a consequence, the data can be used to analyse further dimensions of the issues under examination (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Creswell, 2003). Therefore, to explore the importance of branding for small businesses in the marketplace, a semi-structured face-to-face interview was considered as the best technique. Saunders, et, al (2007) advocate that semi-structured interviews enclose a wide range of variable questions which could be useful for complex analysis. On the contrary, Cameron and Price (2009) postulate that perceptions can be unreliable, leading the validity and reliability of the research methodology uncertain. Nevertheless, the semistructured interview was an opportunity to gain overall verification on the importance of branding from the management perspective of the company. Ultimately, Hair, et, al (2011) highlight that focus group is another effective method to achieve qualitative data.

3.5.2 Focus Group
Focus groups are regarded as effective qualitative strategies that help to develop influential data through the elaboration of participants (Bryant, 2006; Hair, et, al, 2011). In addition, Bell and Bryman (2011) argue that a focus group is an effective technique to understand and observe the values and beliefs of participants which can be used to define any issues and identify potential solutions accordingly. Consequently, as this report aimed to identify the importance of branding from the perspectives of employees, this technique provided stimulating and creative data for the understanding of the research analysis (Collis & Hussey, 2009; Creswell, 2003). However, although, the focus group is considered as a productive method, it has some drawbacks too (Bell & Bryman, 2011). Bell and Bryman (2011) advocate that data are gathered collectively which can lead to concerns of reliability. However, Cassell and Symon (2006) highlight that this method probes interaction between participants. Therefore, focus group is a good technique to employ for the investigation of key issues and to achieve constructive viewpoints (Cassell & Symon, 2006). On the other hand, to achieve quantified data for the purpose of this study, it was essential to use questionnaire surveys as a means for quantitative research.

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3.5.3 Questionnaire Surveys
Various researchers agree that questionnaires are essential methods for the collection of quantitative data and for the overall objective of surveys (Cassell & Symon, 2006; Evans & Mathur, 2005; Grafton, et, al, 2011; Hair, et, al, 2011; Saunders, et, al, 2007). According to Cameron and Price (2009), questionnaire surveys allow large quantities of numerical data and are consisted of predetermined set of questions. Additionally, Cameron and Price (2009) also, signify that gathered data can be compared to gain exhaustive information for the research. Similarly, Bell and Bryman (2011) as well as Creswell (2003) advocate that questionnaire surveys include specific variables and eventually, the researcher can relate to specific investigation for the accomplishment of the research question.

Consequently, for the aim of this management report, questionnaire surveys were developed and distributed to the two key stakeholders of the organisation, including both employees and customers. Moreover, questionnaire surveys have been effective methods for this project as data were collected anonymously in a short span of time (Creswell, 2003; Hair, et, al, 2011). In contrast, Khatri and Budhwar (2002) argue that questionnaire surveys have a relatively restricted sample size. Therefore, research suggests that data analysis can be complex and variable (Khatri & Budhwar, 2002). Ultimately, having examined the research paradigm, research design and approach and the methods used in this management report, it is critical to outline the sampling procedures of the study.

3.6

Population Sampling
Literature advocates that population sampling is constituted as a key step in a

research process and it is fundamental to consider a representative sample to generalise findings and data (Cameron & Price, 2009; Plano, 2007; Saunders, et, al, 2007). However, Bell and Bryman (2011) highlight that there are different types of probability samples and for the purpose of this study, a specific sample has been adopted accordingly. Cameron and Price (2009) advocate that specific sample allows to gain a variety of perspectives of relevant population, which was the aim of this literature. Overall, this study was based on a small boutique hotel which has twenty six employees and which is located in London. Subsequently, this report aimed to achieve multiple perspectives on the importance of branding from the company’s specific stakeholders. The population sample was, predominantly, the employees of the boutique hotel which included the marketing manager from the sales department, one reception manager from the human resources department, eight front desks employees and seven chamber maids. Nevertheless, a random sample of twenty-five customers of the company, during the month of January, was also surveyed in order to gain external perspectives on the brand name of the hotel.

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The population sample comprised of employees from different levels of the organisational hierarchy, including the customers, in order to assess diverse perspectives and influences towards the research question. Similarly, to gain a top management perception on the importance of branding, the investigation included a one hour face-to-face interview with the marketing manager from the sales department. Furthermore, during the interview, several semi-structured questions were raised in an attempt to establish the management’s reflection and strategy on branding. Additionally, the study was also based on a forty-five minutes focus group with five front desk employees, including the reception manager. During the focus group session, several questions were raised to assess the bottom line employees’ perceptions on the company brand name. As advocated by Yin (2003), the interview and the focus group assisted the research question with detailed and collated qualitative data that eventually led to in-depth information. On the other hand, quantified data were collected through the participation of the rest of the research population which comprised of nine front desk employees, including the reception manager, seven chamber-maids and twenty-five customers. During a maximum period of three weeks, survey questionnaires were distributed to the employees and the customers, which,
again, led to useful and comprehensive data. Accordingly, Creswell (2003) postulates that the size of the population used in this management research is adequate which validated the data collected. Nonetheless, while collection of data from the correct population sample is important, Denzin and Lincoln (2003) highlight another fundamental issue and which is compliance to ethical standards in a research.

3.7

Ethical Considerations
Research ethics are regarded as an imperative concern in management research

(Bell & Bryman, 2011; Creswell & Plano, 2007; Denzin & Lincoln, 2003). Subsequently, Saunders, et, al (2007) define research ethics as a set of moral responsibilities associated with the research process. Moreover, Weeks, et, al (2004) postulate that research ethics bring both participants and the organisation into a realm of issues such as integrity and values. Hence, Bell and Bryman (2011) affirm that it is critical to adhere to ethical principles to prevent any transgression of research ethics. Consequently, in this management study, the key ethical principles were ensured throughout the entire investigation. An ethical form bearing the fundamental ethics concerns such as harm to participants, informed consent, privacy, codes of conduct, confidentiality, anonymity, data protection and deception issues was completed and submitted to the university, prior undertaking the research. In addition, during the process of the investigation, careful planning and constant vigilance were observed to ensure ethical measures, which are as follows. To protect participants from any harm, no minors were involved in any part of this research. Similarly, informed consent and

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codes of conduct were safeguarded by an explanation of the participants’ rights and protection and at all times, participation in this research was entirely voluntary. Furthermore, to protect privacy, confidentiality and
anonymity, no demographic details were made known and data were coded to conceal any possible identity. As argued by Blumberg, et, al (2008) as well as Saunders, et, al (2007), to adhere to research ethics, any ethical dilemmas should be addressed promptly by following guidelines such as debriefing participants, secure informed consent and explain rights to privacy. Nevertheless, in this management research, there was no ethical risk involved as any possible ethical concern was thoroughly examined prior the investigation. Moreover, on each survey questionnaire that was distributed, key research ethics were mentioned such as purpose of this research and participation would be treated with strict confidentiality and privacy. Additionally, contact details of the researcher were provided, in case of any further information required. Ultimately, prior the research, a letter was sent to the company to seek permission to carry out this project and also, before commencing the interviews and surveys, participants were informed of the basic ethical justifications. Conversely to the endorsement of an obvious ethically-oriented study, Cameron and Price (2009) highlight that the validity and reliability of a literature, also, need to be outlined.

3.8

Validity and Reliability of study
Management experts have acknowledged that validity and reliability of research are

important criterions that need to be distinguished (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Cameron & Price, 2009; Saunders, et, al, 2007). Hair, et, al (2011) define validity of research as being ‘the extent to which a construct measures what is supposed to measure’ (Hair, et, al, 2011, p. 238). On the other hand, Bell and Bryman (2011) postulate that reliability ‘is concerned with the question of whether the results of a study are repeatable’ (Bell & Bryman, 2011, p. 41). Furthermore, a number of scholars postulate that it is critical to establish the validity and reliability of a research because they affect the data analysis and validation process (Creswell, 2003; Bell & Bryman, 2011; Weeks, et, al, 2004; Yin, 2003). Consequently, this management research is considered reliable and valid as data were collected through the
implementation of mixed methods, including both qualitative and quantitative research (Blumberg, et, al, 2008; Nguyen & Leblanc, 2001). This research aimed to gather information on the importance on branding from different point of views. Therefore, perceptions were gathered through the use of triangulation of sources, including both primary and secondary data. Moreover, the analysis of this research has been based on employees’ perceptions from different levels of the organisational hierarchy which eventually ensured broadest evaluation of data gathered. Accordingly, Hair, et, al (2011) advocate that the reliability and

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validity of a research need to be assessed through the association of multiple variables. On the contrary, this research was based on a small independent boutique hotel. Therefore, this research can be subject to certain limitations in terms of the number of employees and location. However, with the implementation of mixed designs for a single study, this research is considered rationale for its literature (Creswell, 2003). Ultimately, as the research question, in this management report, aimed to study the perceptions of the employees and customers, the realism and accuracy were achieved through comprehensive methodologies.

3.9

Conclusion
In conclusion, chapter three relates to the critical in-depth understanding of

methodological realm and its associated issues that are related to research (Powers & Valentine, 2009; Saunders, et, al, 2007). As argued by Healy and Perry (2000) as well as Johnson, et, al (2007), it is important that researchers establish a comprehensive understanding of research methodology prior to undertaking an investigation. Therefore, this chapter aimed to provide a comprehensive insight of the research process. Similarly, chapter three has examined the research paradigms and philosophies in terms of its ontology, epistemology and methodology and has justified why the realism
paradigm was the most appropriate for this study (Johnson, et, al, 2007; Saunders, et, al, 2007). Subsequently, this chapter outlined the case study research design and the deductive approach as the framework for the investigation of this research question (Cameron & Price, 2009; Woodside & Wilson, 2003).

Moreover, this study engaged in both qualitative and quantitative research to achieve in-depth evaluation of perceptions of the employees and customers on the importance of branding. Ekanem (2007) as well as Yin (2003) highlight that qualitative and quantitative researches generate a comprehensive and varied analysis of data collected. Ultimately, chapter three has illustrated the population sampling and has provided comprehensive understanding of the ethical considerations that were required for the purpose of this report (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Creswell, 2003; Hair, et, al, 2011). Consequently, the validity and reliability of the overall literature have been examined and discussed to assure the transparency of this management research (Healy & Perry, 2000; Saunders, et, al, 2007; Yin, 2003). Nevertheless, chapter four seeks to provide an overview of key findings and analysis of data collected, in accordance to the research question.

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CHAPTER FOUR
DATA ANALYSIS & FINDINGS
4.1

Introduction
The previous chapter has outlined a comprehensive methodological overview that

has been employed in this study, including the implementation of realism paradigm and a case study research design, using a deductive approach. Furthermore, for the purpose of this investigation, both qualitative and quantitative data collection were gathered with the use of mixed methods approach, which comprised of a semi-structured face-to-face interview, focus group and survey questionnaires. Accordingly, chapter four aims to present the data analysis method employed in this study and review the findings that relate to the research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create their presence in the marketplace?’ Nonetheless, Creswell (2007) argues that it is important to initially advocate the validity of the data analysis, towards the research question.

4.2

Data Analysis
Many management academics argue that it is fundamental to carry an in-depth

investigation to ensure the validity of a study, when addressing a research question (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Cameroon & Price, 2009). Therefore, to explore the research question of this literature, the mixed method approach was employed, which determined both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data were collected through a one-hour semi-structured faceto-face interview with the marketing manager from the sales department and a focus group with five front desk employees. On the other hand, quantitative data was gathered through the use of questionnaires that were handed to the employees and customers of the organisation. Ekanem (2007) highlights that it is critical to effectively analyse the key results that emerged throughout the research process.

Consequently, the analysis of the quantitative data collected was based on focused questions that relate to the literature, while the analysis of the qualitative data collected was based on notes taken by the researcher during the interview and the focus group. The data gathered were coded to identify common patterns of perceptions which allow the investigator to further explore the key themes of the investigation (Creswell, 2003; Crouch & McKenzie, 2009). However, Saunders, et, al (2007) argue that coding system is deficient for any qualitative research. In contrast, as advocated by Neuman (2003), the manual open coded method of data analysis was employed to distinguish the key qualitative findings that emerged from the investigation. Subsequently, the data assembled were classified into conceptual categories to establish collective responses that would, eventually, lead to an extensive analytical study of the participants’

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responses. Overall, the main objective of the data analysis was to ascertain common and inter-related patterns in the responses of the respondents as well as to inform the core outcomes and findings of the investigation.

4.3

Overview of Findings
The literature highlights that the principal aim of this investigation was to examine the perceptions of the staff and management including the customers, towards the importance of branding in the marketplace. Therefore, the key channels related to this management study were examined through the use of diverse variables converted into research questions (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Creswell, 2003). In addition, the participants were asked multiple questions that were streamlined to the investigation of this study and which have been coded into five major categories including a) corporate branding, b) implication of brand awareness, c) implication of brand loyalty, d) stakeholders and branding and e) market competitiveness and brand name. See figure 1.

Figure 1
These core categories have been clearly presented in tables in the appendices and which are as follows. Tables in appendices four, five, six and seven represent the qualitative findings and tables eight and nine represent the quantitative data. These tables have been created using key information and messages that have been provided by both the staff and customers during the investigation. Consecutively, these core categories were established in accordance to the research question and to gain variable perspectives on the literature at different levels, including the staff and management and customers (Koh & Boo, 2004). Accordingly, each category of the core findings as perceived by the staff and management, including the customers, would be assessed further.

4.3.1 Corporate Branding

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From the research investigation, the importance of corporate branding has been emerged and identified through different perspectives of the participants. From a management outlook, branding was considered as ‘a recognition that customers embrace and which conveys a story about the hotel’ (see appendix 4). Additionally, throughout the interview process, the marketing manager highlighted that ‘branding is fundamental in the hospitality industry as it intensifies customers’ base and profitability’. Therefore, ‘it is critical to persevere with the reputation of the hotel’ (see appendix 4). Similarly, from the staff’s perspectives, corporate branding was determined as ‘the essence of the company’ and which can ‘influence the success or failure of the hotel’ (see appendix 5).

Furthermore, the quantitative statistics suggests that 31% of participants expressed that corporate branding strategy can help to resist market competitiveness and 25% of participants emphasised that corporate branding is useful to attract customers. Subsequently, 19% of respondents affirmed that corporate branding generates value and higher credit ratings for the hotel. Furthermore, other respondents established corporate branding as the essence and contribution to the image and recognition of the organisation. See figure 2. Accordingly, these quantitative data revealed key advantages for the company as a result of effective branding strategy.

Corporate Branding Strategy
Percentage
31%
13%

13%

Essence of any
business

Image & recognition

19%

Value & higher
credit ratings

Resist market
competitiveness

25%

Attract customers

Figure 2
Overall, 88% of staff strongly agreed that corporate branding is crucial for the company along with 52% of customers who indicated the same, as illustrated in figure 3 below.

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Importance of Corporate Branding
Employees’ Perspectives Percentage

Customers’ Perspectives Percentage

88%
52%
28%
6%

8%
Strongly Agree

Agree

12%
0%

0%
Neither Agree or
Disagree

0%
6%

Disagree

Strongly
Disagree

Figure 3
These quantitative findings are significantly important as they portray the importance of corporate branding from the perspectives of both the staff and the customers. Furthermore, although 75% of staff admitted that branding strategy is effectively managed (see appendix 7), one of the staff stated that the company ‘needs to consider offers and packages more to compete with other hotels’ (see appendix 5). Nevertheless, during the focus group, key data regarding corporate branding have been obtained. For example, one of the participants stated that the ‘brand management is very informative and helps to attract many customers’ (see appendix 6). Similarly, 69% of the staff indicated that they are proud of the company brand name and 76% of customers have positive critiques towards the reputation of the company which is illustrated in figure 4.

Brand Name Critique
Customers

Employees

76%
69%
19%

Positive Response

4%
Negative Response

20%

13%
I Dont Know

Figure 4
Consequently, these statistics, in figure 4, again, established that there is a broad understanding on the importance of branding within the company. Moreover, the staff as well as the customers established that holding a strong branding strategy can accentuate many advantages for the company. For example, during the focus group, one of the staff affirmed that branding within the company is ‘functional and effective’ and which ’makes the

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hotel famous and attract more and more customers’ (see appendix 6). However, during the interview, it has been recognised that there are several challenges that need to be tackled such as ‘huge marketing costs compared to big hotel chains’ (see appendix 4). Therefore, the research suggests that it is important to assess other key influencing factors of branding, including brand awareness.

4.3.2 Implication of Brand Awareness

According to literature, brand awareness plays a vital role and is regarded as one of the critical pillars of branding (Abimbola, 2001; Broderick & Saunders, 1999; Creswell, 2007; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006). Similarly, through the interview process, brand awareness is considered as a crucial technique to acquire a ‘strong customer’ base’ and ‘to convey a positive image to the customers’ (see appendix 4). Overall, the marketing manager highlighted that brand awareness ‘ensures constant advertising of the hotel’ which eventually helps to ‘build strong reputation of the hotel’. On the other hand, the staff stated that ‘brand awareness helps customers to recall and recognise the hotel’. Consequently, the quantitative data display that a high 44% of staff agreed that brand awareness encourages repetitive businesses while 25% of staff acknowledged that the brand awareness promotes consciousness and identity of the company, as shown in figure 5.

Rationale of Brand Awareness
Percentage
44%
25%
13%

Creates
conciousness &
identity

13%

Inform customers

Increase the
opportunity to
boost up customers’
base

6%
Encourage
repetitive visits

Acts as an
advertising and
marketing

Figure 5
Furthermore, 81% of employees stated that they personally contribute to the brand awareness of the hotel and which was also in accordance to the management’ perceptions to ‘continue strive in creating awareness among customers’. Additionally, the findings reveal that 69% of employees and a perceptive 84% of customers strongly agreed that brand awareness is very useful in strategic branding and this is portrayed below in figure 6.

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Customers’ & Employees’ Perspectives
on the Importance of
Brand Awareness
Customers
84%

Employees

69%
12%

Strongly Agree

25%
4%

Agree

0%

Neither Agree or

Disagree

0%

6%

Disagree

0%

0%

Strongly Disagree

Figure 6
Subsequently, the outcomes revealed that 72% of customers agreed that the company effectively establishes brand awareness in the marketplace which is shown in figure 7.

Customers’ Perception: Effectiveness of Brand Awareness in the Marketplace
12% 0% 8%

Strongly Agree

8%

Agree
Neither Agree or Disagree
Disagree

72%

Strongly Disagree

Figure 7

Overall, these statistics portray the successful implementation of brand awareness within the organisation and in the marketplace and establish key implications accordingly. Having discussed the importance of brand awareness, the findings presented other variables that influence the concept of branding in the market place, including brand loyalty.

4.3.3 Implication of Brand Loyalty
Throughout the investigation, considerable attention has been given to the implication of brand loyalty from both the staff and management, including the customers. Similarly, the findings display that 44% of employees strongly agreed that the company

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holds lasting brand loyalty from its customers while just 12% of employees disagree with the statement which is displayed in figure 8.

Employees: Brand Loyalty from Customers
12% 0%
Strongly Agree
19%

Agree

44%

Neither Agree or Disagree
Disagree

25%

Strongly Disagree

Figure 8
From a management perspective, brand loyalty adds ‘value and goodwill to the
hotel’ which eventually, ‘increases the valuation and profitability of the company’ (see appendix 4). Furthermore, the marketing manager also stated that ‘brand loyalty is critical as it certifies the overall reliability and credibility of the hotel in the marketplace’ (see appendix 4). Similarly, 72% of customers agreed that brand loyalty contributes to the success of the company as shown in figure 9.

Brand Loyalty Versus Corporate Success
4%

0%
8%

Strongly Agree

16%

Agree
Neither Agree or Disagree
Disagree

72%

Strongly Disagree

Figure 9
On the other hand, from the perspectives of the staff, the findings displayed three main outcomes of brand loyalty. Accordingly, 44% of staff acknowledged that brand loyalty creates repetitive businesses for the hotel while 31% of staff stated that competitive advantages can be achieved in the market place. Ultimately, 25% of staff highlighted that the implication of brand loyalty can generate higher revenues for the business. Please refer to figure 10.

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Implication of Brand Loyalty
Percentage
44%
25%

Generate higher revenues

Creates repetitive business

31%

Competitive advantages

Figure 10
Overall, in the analysis of this literature, the findings displayed brand loyalty as an important factor among other dimensions of branding, including the stakeholders.

4.3.4 Stakeholders & Branding

Throughout the investigation, the importance of branding has been perceived through the employees and the customers of the organisation. Consequently, the findings revealed strong influence of the stakeholders regarding the concept of branding. For instance, the findings presented that 80% of customers agreed that staff positively contribute to the reputation of the company, as illustrated in figure 11.

Customers: Employees Contribution Towards the
Reputation of the Company
0%
0%

4%

8% 8%
Very Good
Good
Dont Know

Poor
Very Poor

80%

Figure 11
Furthermore, according to the qualitative data, ‘both employees and customers generate substantial impact on the corporate brand name’ (see appendix 4). Additionally, the marketing manager acknowledged that the employees are the ‘core influence’ on the brand reputation of the company as the staff ‘represent the hotel to the customers’ through their assistance (see appendix 4). Moreover, through the interview, it has been established that

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customers ‘remain the first priority’ as they influence the ‘profitability and occupancy rate’ of the business (see appendix 4). Subsequently, these qualitative findings have been represented in figure 12, which illustrate the impacts and significance of the stakeholders that are being discussed.

Dynamics

Employees

Customers

•Employees
•Customers

•Core influence on the corporate brand name

•Reinforce company-customers relationship

•Increase profitability
•Strong customers’ base creates strong
company’s image

Figure 12
The findings presented some key statistics that result into many advantages for the company. For example, 56% of customers would visit the hotel again while just 16% of the customers would not return and the remaining 28% are uncertain (see appendix 8). On the other hand, 84% of customers affirmed that they would suggest the hotel to a friend or family (see appendix 8). Although, these findings illustrate an optimistic description on the success of corporate branding, Tarnovskaya and Burt (2008) highlight that stakeholders can generate inconsistent information due to their variable behaviours. Nevertheless, figure 13 below demonstrates 76% of customer satisfaction that positively related to the reputation of the hotel.

Positive Customer Satisfaction
Agree
24%

Disagree

0%

76%

Figure 13

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Overall, the findings highlighted that stakeholders have inter-related influence on the brand name of the organisation and which equally indicate significant impacts in the marketplace.

4.3.5 Market Competitiveness & Branding
The findings revealed several themes in relation to the research question of how can small independent businesses use branding to create their presence in the marketplace. Consequently, according to the quantitative data, 100% of employees agreed that branding helps to tackle market competition which is a key positive finding, in accordance to the research question, see figure 14.

Branding Versus Market Competition
56%
44%

0%
Strongly Agree

Agree

0%

0%

Neither Agree
or Disagree

Disagree

Strongly
Disagree

Figure 14
In addition, through the interview, the manager highlighted that ‘the implementation of branding helps the hotel to maintain its survival and to earn market share’ among competitors (see appendix 4). Moreover, the staff also revealed the outcomes of a strong brand name in the market place and
which has been illustrated in figure 15. Accordingly, 44% of staff stated that branding can help to reduce market competitiveness while 13% of staff believed that branding helps to bring more customers to the business. Conversely, only 6% of the staff stated that branding can yield greater opportunity for the hotel.

Branding in the Marketplace
Percentage
44%

19%

People tend to
attach to brand
name

13%

To get more
customers

19%
6%
Higher
opportunities

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Reduce market
competitiveness

Acts as a trust on
the market

Figure 15

Subsequently, 60% of customers agreed that the hotel can endure market competitiveness due to its strong corporate brand presence on the market, as shown in figure 16.

Customers: Intensity of Corporate Reputation in the
Marketplace
4% 4%

Strongly Agree

12%

Agree
20%

Neither Agree or
Disagree
Disagree

60%

Strongly Disagree

Figure 16
Throughout the interview process, the qualitative findings revealed that ‘branding has become the mirror of the way people live and how they conceptualise their needs’ (see appendix 4). Subsequently, the marketing manager stated that the implementation of branding ‘is critical to survive market competition’ and which is usually achieved ‘through powerful and cost-effective channels such as the social media networking’ (see appendix 4). In addition, the respondents stated that ‘customers tend to be attached to brand name’. Therefore, ‘it is important to create a strong brand reputation to get more customers than other competitors’ (see appendix 5). These statements can be supported by the fact that 72% of customers confirmed that brand name is very important to them. This critical research
and development information is represented in a graph below as figure 17, which further highlights that branding, can be successfully implemented to acquire more customers (Broderick & Saunders, 1999; Ghosh & Chakraborty, 2004; Dibb, et, al, 1991).

Customers: Importance of Brand Name
Percentage
72%

16%
12%
Yes

No

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Neutral

Figure 17
Ultimately, another respondent stated that branding ‘acts as an established reputation which becomes the primary choice over other competitors’. Similarly, 48% of customers confirmed that the hotel under investigation is their preferred hotel due to its brand reputation on the market, as shown in figure 18.

Customers: Preferred Hotel

36%

The Hotel
48%

Other Competing Hotels
I Dont Know

16%

Figure 18

4.5

Summary of Findings
Overall, throughout the investigation, the effectiveness of branding in order to

achieve presence in the marketplace has been established. In addition, the research identified several aspects of branding that are critical in an analysis. Accordingly, the study highlighted the importance of corporate brand management, in accordance to the research question. Furthermore, the report revealed that it is fundamental to consider brand awareness and brand loyalty to create sustainable market presence (Abimbola, 2001; Berthon, et, al, 2011; Holt, 2000; Kumar, et, al, 2000; Nguyen & Leblanc, 2001). This investigation also revealed the significance of the stakeholders in the conceptual framework of branding and how both the employees and the customers contribute and influence the corporate brand name (Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Gapp & Merrilees, 2006; Lin, et, al, 2011; Olins, 2000). Ultimately, the results determined the constructive relationship between branding and market competition (Abimbola, 2001; Kumar, et, al, 2000; Slater & Narver, 1999; Souiden, et, al, 2006; Rooney, 1995)

4.6

Conclusion
In conclusion, chapter four provided key data analysis and findings regarding both

the staff and management perceptions, including the customers, on the research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create their presence in the marketplace’. Subsequently, as argued by
Cameroon and Price (2009), for the data

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analysis, the manual open coded method was utilised to outline the core themes into conceptual categories. Accordingly, the findings were divided into categories including a) corporate branding, b) implication of brand awareness, c) implication of brand loyalty, d) stakeholders and branding and e) market competitiveness and branding. However, as argued by Abimbola (2001), it is critical to effectively interpret the research findings to justify the purpose of the study. Therefore, chapter five aims to provide an in-depth understanding of key results and interpret the core implications emerged from the investigation.

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CHAPTER FIVE
DISCUSSIONS & IMPLICATIONS
5.1

Introduction
This management report has attempted to establish the significance of branding for

small businesses and how can this strategic tool be implemented to tackle market competition. Similarly, the research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create their presence in the marketplace’ has been investigated through mixed methods within a case study strategy. The mixed methods provided critical qualitative and quantitative data that have led to the understanding of the research question. Moreover, chapter four presented an overview of data analysis collected and identified key findings accordingly. Subsequently, as exemplified in chapter four, the key results were categorised into conceptual areas which require further discussion, including corporate branding, brand awareness and brand loyalty, stakeholders and market competitiveness and brand name. Therefore, this
chapter aims to establish comprehensive discussions and implications of the research investigation. Eventually, chapter five aims to interpret the key outcomes that emerged from the research in relation to the literature reviewed in chapter two. Firstly, this chapter will outline the key results that emerged from the research analysis.

5.2

Discussion of Key Results
According to Cameroon and Price (2009), it is significantly important for the

investigator to interpret the key results of the investigation in accordance to the research question. Consequently, the manual open coded analysis of qualitative and quantitative data for this study established four key themes that assist the in-depth understanding of the literature. Accordingly, contemporary small businesses can create their presence in the marketplace through branding by implementing a) corporate branding strategy. The research results displayed that effective branding strategy helps to create long term identity and valuable reputation for the company. In addition, the results portrayed that the brand name of the company is influenced by brand awareness and brand loyalty. Therefore, it is critical to consider the b) significance of brand equity in terms of brand awareness and brand loyalty. Furthermore, the investigation results revealed that the c) impact and influence of stakeholders need to be effectively assessed. The data gathered also suggested that this theme has important and persistent effects on the overall reputation of the company. Ultimately, the research findings demonstrated that d) implication of branding in the marketplace holds critical importance as this theme establishes the overall concept of this

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literature. Subsequently, these core results are discussed and explored below in accordance to the literature reviewed in chapter two.

5.2.1 Key Finding One – Corporate Branding Strategy

One of the key outcomes that emerged from the research data and analysis indicated that corporate branding strategy is a crucial technique that needs to be utilised to create presence in the marketplace. Similarly, as argued by Einwiller and Will (2002), branding strategy helps to achieve constructive communication between the company and its customers. Therefore, branding determines the way in which the organisation is perceived in the marketplace (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Einwiller & Will, 2002; Souiden, et, al, 2006). Additionally, O’Cass and Ngo (2011) advocate that effective branding strategy within a company shows strong associations with enhanced capabilities and financial values.

Consequently, the data gathered indicated that an influential branding strategy helps to ensure constant recognition of the company’s image and which eventually helps to build a strong customers’ base (Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Edelman, 2010; Newman & Pyne, 1996; Presas, et, al, 2011). Subsequently, the results revealed that brand strategy is effectively implemented within the organisation and which ensures high occupancy rates and profitability for the company. Accordingly, Fan (2005) as well as Tarnovskaya and Burt (2008) highlight that branding strategy acts as a critical mechanism to enhance the performance of a company which eventually increases the overall economic value of the organisation.

Furthermore, the results displayed that the brand strategy within the hotel is significantly considered and managed which eventually contributes towards a positive outlook of the company’s reputation. Likewise, Keller & Aaker (1997) as well as Urde (2003) highlight that brand management emphasises on fundamental factors of a company, such as its credibility, identity and sustainability. Subsequently, these factors contribute to the goodwill and increased valuation of the business (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Urde, 2003; Wilden, et, al, 2010). However, the research findings revealed several challenges that need to be tackled in regards to the corporate branding strategy for a small independent business. For instance, the data displayed the fact that the company is faced with huge marketing costs compared to other competing hotels and chains of hotels, which can easily absorb these operational costs. Moreover, as highlighted by Abimbola (2001), being a
small company, the boutique hotel is faced with more financial constraints and inadequate resources. Nevertheless, in general, the results validated the fact that corporate branding is highly critical in relation to the research question. Ultimately, it is argued that corporate brand strategy impacts brand equity, including brand awareness and loyalty (Berthon, et, al, 2011;

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Einwiller & Will, 2002; Raggio & Leone, 2007). Having discussed branding strategy within the company, further discussions of the research results will focus on other variables, including the significance of brand equity.

5.2.2 Key Finding Two – Significance of Brand Equity in Terms of Brand Awareness and Brand Loyalty
The next key finding identified that brand equity is regarded as a fundamental channel to create perceived value for a company in the marketplace. Subsequently, as argued by Aaker (2002), brand equity includes awareness and loyalty of a company’s brand name and which eventually promotes corporate-customers relationship. From the investigation, it has been emerged that brand awareness and brand loyalty are two imperative elements of branding (Edelman, 2010; Hatch & Schultz, 2001; Wanhill, 1997). In addition, the findings revealed that brand awareness and loyalty generate vital outcomes on the company’s brand reputation in the marketplace in terms of corporate identity, recognition and higher revenues. Accordingly, Hatch and Schultz (2001) as well as Herstein and Gamliel (2006) postulate that brand awareness and brand loyalty are also strongly associated with high profitability stream and economic development for the company. Moreover, Abimbola (2001) as well as Ballantyne, et, al (2005) highlight that the concept of brand equity involves diverse long term implications for the company in terms of the company’s valuation. Similarly, the research outcomes further presented that both the management and the staff, including the customers agreed that efficient brand equity acts as a valuable asset to the company.

Furthermore, according to the results, brand awareness and brand loyalty generate constructive goodwill in the long term (Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Edelman, 2010; Hatch & Schultz, 2001; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Accordingly, the established goodwill helps to certify the overall reputation and popularity of the company and eventually, builds a strong customers’ foundation (Abimbola, 2001; Hatch & Schultz, 2001; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Ultimately, Hatch and Schultz (2001) as well as Timmerman (2001) postulate that efficient reputation of the organisation contributes to competitive advantages in the marketplace. However, the outcomes recognised that the development of brand equity, through brand awareness and loyalty, is not an instant process and requires crucial measures such as cutthroat prices and added-value services (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Hatch & Schultz, 2001; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Nevertheless, the data analysis and results revealed that the brand equity of the organisation is effectively developed through major endorsement of brand awareness and brand loyalty. On the other hand, Ballantyne, et, al (2005) as well as Timmerman (2001) advocate that the staff and the customers dramatically influence the effectiveness of branding implemented by the business in the marketplace.

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5.2.3 Key Finding Three – Impact & Influence of Stakeholders The third key result emerged from the investigation considers the impact and influence of the staff and customers on corporate branding. According to the outcomes, the brand name of the company can be influenced by these stakeholders through service quality offered and perceived customer services. As a consequence, these factors can have either positive or negative impacts on the reputation of the business, which eventually affects the company’s brand name in the marketplace (Aaker, 2008; Holt, 2002; Pennington & Ball, 2009; Timmerman, 2001; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Subsequently, this finding is consistent with previous studies which highlight that both staff and customers influence the degree of competitive advantages in terms of a positive reputation for the company (Abimbola, 2001; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011; Punjairi & Wilson, 2011; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Furthermore, Punjairi
and Wilson (2011) also highlight that through the staff, a company communicates its core values and identity in the marketplace and which are perceived by customers. Hence, it is critical that organisations evaluate both the staff and customers to ensure a strong reputation among competitors (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; Punjairi & Wilson, 2011). Similarly, the findings revealed that the staff and the customers are the two key dynamics in building the corporate brand name.

In addition, the results acknowledged that staff influences the perceptions of customers through excellent customer service which again reinforce the company-customers relationship. Consequently, with a high perceived level of customer services and a strong staff-customer relationship, the outcomes established the fact that staff and customers draw an optimistic representation of the company in the marketplace (De Chernatomy, 2001; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Holt, 2002; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2007; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Overall, the research data accentuate the constructive link between stakeholders and the concept of branding, in relation to market competitiveness (Abimbola, 2001; Kimpakorn & Toquern, 2010; Moroko & Uncles, 2009). Accordingly, the findings portrayed that effective deployment of branding strategy can help to enhance a business’s performance in the marketplace (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Kay, 2006; Slater & Narver, 1999; Wanhill, 1997).

5.2.4 Key Finding Four – Implication of Branding in the Marketplace In contemporary studies, many scholars highlight that successful brand name establishes competitive advantages and assists to create a distinctive place in the marketplace (Abimbola, 2001; Fan, 2005; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Wilden, et, al, 2010). The findings revealed a firm outcome of 100% of staff agreeing that branding strategy can help to tackle market competitiveness. Additionally, the outcomes established that there is a

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strong association between repetitive businesses and the brand name of the company and which again lead to general competitive advantages in the
marketplace. Moreover, a majority of customers confirmed that brand name is important to them and as a result, their primary choice is determined by the strength of the overall reputation of the organisation. Subsequently, this statement supports the findings emerged from the interview process, which revealed that customers conceptualised their choice through branding. Therefore, in order to tackle market competition, it is critical to extensively develop a strong brand name (Abimbola, 2001; Hills & Sarin, 2003; Kunde, 2002; Slater & Narver, 1999). Similarly, Garvin (1996) as well as Tarnovskaya and Burt (2008) postulate that a brand name is perceived as an established trust and service quality at a certain value in the marketplace. Consequently, customers are more inclined to use the product or service of that particular company (Garvin, 1996; Gapp & Merrilees, 2006; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Ultimately, the literature highlights how the concept of branding can be implemented to develop competitive advantages and a place in the marketplace and which have been re-established in the results accordingly (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; Olins, 2000; Wentz & Suchard, 1993). Overall, several variables have been emerged from the findings that need to be evaluated in terms of the research question.

5.3

Summary of Key Findings & Managerial Proposition
This management research revealed four key outcomes that highlighted significant

implications in relation to the research question. Subsequently, the core findings contribute to the understanding of how can small independent businesses use branding to create its presence in the marketplace. First of all, this study identified that implementing a strong corporate branding strategy, many contemporary businesses can achieve constructive reputation in the marketplace. Therefore, as argued by Balmer and Greyser (2006) as well as Lin, et, al (2010), organisations can reinforce their branding management strategy to achieve competitive advantages and to succeed in establishing presence in the marketplace. Furthermore, the research analysis acknowledged that brand equity through brand awareness and brand loyalty assist to develop and promote the corporate brand name (Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Carvens, et, al, 2000; O’Dwyer, et, al, 2009; Pinar, et, al, 2010). Additionally, the findings portrayed that brand awareness and loyalty ensured recognition and acceptance from customers, towards the reputation of the company. Consequently, this research analysis was supported by the existing literature that suggests small organisations should effectively encourage brand awareness which enhance brand loyalty, to achieve lasting advantages over competitors (Abimbola, 2001; Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Edelman, 2010; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Timmerman, 2001). Eventually,

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as argued by Balmer and Greyser (2006) as well as Timmerman (2001), brand awareness and brand loyalty generate economic development for the company. The existing literature equally suggests that brand equity, through awareness and loyalty, can help to face market competitiveness more effectively (Edelman, 2010; Pinar, et, al, 2010; Timmerman, 2001). However, the outcomes of this study also highlighted that brand equity is established over a prolonged period of time. Nevertheless, both the research and previous studies postulate that brand equity remains an imperative technique to face market competition (Ballantyne, et, al, 2006; Edelman, 2010; Holt, 2002; Wilden, et, al, 2010). Moreover, another key finding that transpired through the research investigation was that there is an influencing relationship between the staff, including the customers and the corporate brand name. Subsequently, the research analysis outlined that both the staff and the customers are core factors and have direct impacts on the company’s reputation.

Similarly, many management scholars support the results and highlight that staff and customers influence brand name through behaviours and perceptions (Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). The ultimate key finding in relation to the research question was the implementation of branding in the marketplace, which outlined branding as a dominant strategic tool. Therefore, branding can be employed to gain competitive advantages and to establish a distinctive position among competitors (Abimbola, 2001; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Moroko & Uncles, 2009). Overall, the key outcomes discussed in this chapter advocate that branding can significantly contribute to the development of small businesses in the marketplace (Abimbola, 2001; Baraldi & Bacconcelli, 2001; Carvens, et, al, 2000; Pinar, et, al, 2010; Ueno, 2010).

5.4

Conclusion
In conclusion, the coded data analysis presented four key results that assist the

investigation of the research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create their presence in the marketplace?’ The fundamental themes include corporate branding strategy, brand equity, stakeholders and implications of branding in the marketplace. Subsequently, these findings have been acknowledged to contribute in gaining presence among competitors in the marketplace and which are supported by existing literature (Abimbola, 2001; Edelman, 2010; Herstein & Gamliel, 2006; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Additionally, this management investigation highlighted that by establishing a strong brand, small independent businesses can equally survive market challenges through competitive advantages and sustainable development (Hatch & Schultz, 2001; Lin, et, al, 2010; Olins, 2000).

Ultimately, having examined and discussed the core outcomes in

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accordance to the literature, the following chapter will outline a summary of the study, including the key limitations and possible future research.

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CHAPTER SIX
CONCLUSIONS

6.1

Introduction
The previous chapter has discussed the key findings that emerged from this

management investigation in accordance to the research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create its presence in the marketplace?’ Additionally, chapter five provided clear interpretations of the core results within the literature reviewed in chapter two. Moreover, the previous chapter highlighted the implications and examined the outcomes of the research analysis. Therefore, chapter six seeks to provide an overall summary of the literature in relation to the research question and outlines the methodology employed to gather and analyse data for this report. Subsequently, this chapter will acknowledge and examine the limitations and potential future research for this study.

6.2

Summary of the Study
In today’s global economy, literature emphasises on the mounting importance of

branding and how can organisations employ this concept to create presence in competitive markets (Abimbola, 2001; Lin, et, al, 2010; Newman & Pyne, 1996; Pappu, et, al, 2005; Taylor, et, al, 2004; Yasin, et, al, 2007). Additionally, many researchers highlight that there are many variables and issues that are associated with the implementation of branding (Abimbola, 2001; Pappu, et, al, 2005; Taylor, et, al, 2004; Wilden, et, al, 2010). However, the investigation underlined that contemporary research tends to focus on addressing the relationships between branding and customers, particularly for larger organisations (Abimbola, 2001; Souiden, et, al, 2006; Wilson, 2011).

Moreover, there are only few empirical studies in relation to employees’ involvement in the development of corporate brand name (Hui, et, al, 2003; King & Grace, 2005; Pappu, et, al, 2005). Consequently, an in-depth research was required to investigate how small independent businesses can use branding to create its presence in the marketplace, including the contribution of both employees and customers. Therefore, this management research is justified for its purpose due to the lack of literature to establish a comprehensive understanding regarding the implementation of branding for small independent companies.

6.2.1 Addressing the Research Question
The fundamental objective behind this investigation was to establish how small independent businesses can use branding to create presence among competitors. Moreover, the research aimed to focus on the perceived inter-related variables of branding

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such as brand equity and stakeholders. Subsequently, in addressing the research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create its presence in the marketplace’, the key themes such as the company’s branding strategy, brand awareness, brand loyalty and the contribution of employees and influence of customers were analysed. Nevertheless, in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the literature, it is important to evaluate the key methodological aspects of this study.

6.2.2 Methodology of the Study & Data Analysis
This management research implemented a realism paradigm within a case study design, including mixed methods data collection and analysis to examine the research question in the most appropriate way (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Creswell, 2003; Healy & Perry, 2000). The collection of qualitative data involved a focus group with the front desk employees and a semi-structured face-to-face interview with the marketing manager from the sales department, in an attempt to achieve diverse perspectives, from different hierarchical levels of the company. Similarly, Bell and Bryman (2011) as well as Creswell (2003) argue that these approaches are particularly effective as the researcher is able to probe the perceptions of the participants towards the importance of branding, which were critical for this research.

On the other hand, quantitative data was collected through the use of survey questionnaires that were handed to both the employees and customers of the organisation, again, in an attempt to gain different perspectives towards the research question. Accordingly, Hair, et, al (2011) as well as Pinar, et, al (2010) highlight that survey questionnaires are highly effective to achieve flexible statistical analysis and true value of propositions, which entirely accomplished the objective of this research. Subsequently, the use of both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods enhanced the validity and reliability of the study (Bell & Bryman, 2011; Saunders, et, al, 2007). Ultimately, the collection of data gathered was analysed using the manual open coded method which allows researchers to assemble findings into conceptual categories (Cameron & Price, 2009; Creswell, 2003). Consequently, the data analysis revealed four key results that provide further understanding in regards to the research question.

6.2.3 Key Findings & Discussions

The research analysis identified four key findings in accordance to the research question. Similarly, the four core themes include corporate branding strategy, significance of brand equity in terms of brand awareness and loyalty, impact and influence of stakeholders and implication of branding in the marketplace. Subsequently, the research investigation highlighted that these results were perceived as key variables in the context of branding and

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which are supported by existing literature (Ballantyne, et, al, 2006; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). Ultimately, the core findings established that branding can be effectively implemented to create presence among competitors by small and independent companies, which is again supported by current studies (Abimbola, 2001; Lin, et, al, 2010; Moroko & Uncles, 2009; O’Cass & Ngo, 2011).

6.3

Limitations of the Study

The research recognised that in interpreting the findings of this study, there are

certain limitations, in terms of validity and reliability, of the investigation that need to be considered (Baraldi & Bacconcelli, 2001; Nutt, 2011). Firstly, as argued by King and Grace (2005) as well as Saunders, et, al (2011), as an undergraduate research investigation, this literature may be subject to certain limitations in terms of the resources and size and the sample employed to gather and analyse the data. For instance, the research analysis of one specific organisation can be regarded as a limitation due to the low generality of the overall findings (Saunders, et, al, 2011). Nevertheless, according to Bell and Bryman (2011), this type of research strategy is justified as it embedded an in-depth understanding of the key associated issues through both qualitative and quantitative data collection process. Subsequently, as argued by Cameron and Price (2009), the size of the organisation and the size of the population employed can be considered as inappropriate for the investigation.

However, Crouch and McKenzie (2009) highlight that the qualitative research is considered as a human-oriented type of research that probes the perspectives and values of participants. Therefore, it may be used to justify a small sample size (Crouch & McKenzie, 2009; Ueno, 2010). Moreover, as outlined by Creswell (2003), this investigation is achieved through the implementation of mixed designs for a single study and which certifies the rationale of the quantitative data collected. Overall, this management research sought to investigate the effectiveness of branding as a key strategy for small independent businesses to establish market presence. Accordingly, this report evaluated the research question using different perspectives within a small hotel, including the customers and as such this justifies the reliability of this study. Therefore, despite the limitations, this research embraced a comprehensive understanding of the variables of branding and how branding can be implemented, in accordance to the research question (Aspara & Tikkanen, 2008; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Healy & Perry, 2000; Nutt, 2011; Saunders, et, al, 2011).

6.4

Future Research

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This study emphasised on the findings of the research and which can also lead to further examination. For instance, future research can be carried out by exploring in-depth investigation on the influence of employees on branding as there have been very few empirical studies for this variable (King & Grace, 2005; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011). On the other hand, the study highlighted inadequate research in the assessment on branding for small independent businesses, while there is significant focus for larger chain of companies (Abimbola, 2001; Hair, et, al, 2011; Moroko & Uncles, 2009). Ultimately, the literature revealed that there is scope for further investigate the research question by exploring the complications faced by contemporary small organisation across numerous locations as the hypothesis may vary significantly (Abimbola, 2001; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Pappu, et, al, 2005; Yasin, et, al, 2007).

6.5

Conclusion
To conclude, this management research has established a broader overview on how

small organisations can implement branding strategy to obtain market presence, including an outline of the core influencing factors. Subsequently, the main implication of this report is to demonstrate that by evaluating key dimensions of branding, small and independent businesses can also own a distinctive presence in the marketplace. Similarly, the key attributes that were perceived to influence the company’s brand name in the marketplace include brand awareness, brand loyalty and both the staff and the customers of the organisation (Abimbola, 2001; Healy & Perry, 2000; Punjaisri & Wilson, 2011; Tarnovskaya & Burt, 2008). In addition, the key findings of this research highlighted that in order to create presence in the marketplace, small businesses need to effectively assess and establish these core variables. Accordingly, as advocated by many academic researchers, branding is a fundamental organisational technique that can be employed to create market presence and gain competitive advantages (Abimbola, 2001; Ballantyne, et, al, 2005; Balmer & Greyser, 2006; Newman & Pyne, 1996; Presas, et, al, 2011; Timmerman, 2001; Widen, et, al, 2010).

Ultimately, this management study has provided an in-depth analysis and better understanding in addressing the research question of ‘how can small independent businesses use branding to create presence in the marketplace?’ Moreover, the study has highlighted the key themes which small independent businesses need to consider in order to enhance their internal and external capabilities and competitive position.

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7.0

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8.0

APPENDICES LIST

8.1

Appendix 1 – Permission Letter to Organisation

th

06 October 2011

Ms K Ramgoolam
Marketing & Sales Manager
Marketing & Sales Dept
Sussex Gardens Ltd
131-137 Cromwell Road
London
SW7 4DU

Priya Baungally
Student Id: 000561343
Student of University of Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College

Park Row
London
SE10 9LS

Dear Ms K. Ramgoolam,
My name is Priya Baungally and I am a third year student studying my Bachelor, specialising in Business Management. As this is my final year I am currently commencing my research for my 10,000 st
word dissertation report due on the 21 March 2012. For this project we need to conduct a Management Research process within an organisation.
Therefore, I am writing to seek permission to potentially undertake my individual project investigating your organisation as part of my assessment for the Dissertation program conducted at the University of Greenwich.

For my dissertation I am interested in investigating the topic of Branding within your organisation. The aim of this project is not just to complete my assessment item but also to provide the business with any feedback and recommendations for the research outcomes.

If possible as part of my project, I would like to conduct a 1 hr interview with yourself as the Sales & Marketing Manager as well as some 10 minute semi- structured interviews with around 15 employees and with around 20-30 customers to elicit information about the employee and customer perspective on the branding processes and necessity within the business

I understand that the time you are able to provide, in order to assist with the research maybe be limited. However, I am aim to hopefully only require approximately 2 hours of your input in order to complete my project.

Feel free to contact me via email which is [email protected] or call 07535444769 when you are free to discuss the potential requirements of the project and how it may benefit your organisation. Kind regards,

Priya Baungally
rd

University of Greenwich 3 Year BA Business Management Student

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8.2

Appendix 2 – Permission Letter from Organisation

Page 60 of 73

8.3

Appendix 3 – Conceptual Framework

Corporate Branding
Essence of the company

Marketing Mix
Fundamental features of marketing

Employees
Core influence on company-customer relationship

Brand Awareness
Recognition and Identity of the company

Customers
Increase profitability

Brand Loyalty
Greater customers’ base &
Repetitive businesses

Branding vs Market

Competition
Sustainable competitive advantages

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8.4

Appendix 4 – Interview Summary

Qualitative Interview Questions
According to you, what is the
importance of branding in the
hospitality industry?

Key Facts


What are the challenges that the hotel
face on
the market place as a small
independent business?

How does branding help the hotel to
create
its presence on the marketplace?


How does the hotel use its brand name
to
survive competition on the
marketplace?

What is the branding strategy of the
company?

How does the branding strategy create
brand
awareness to the company’s
customers?

How does the hotel ensure brand
loyalty
from its customers?


Why is brand awareness and brand
loyalty
important for the hotel?



Branding is fundamental in the hospitality industry as any hotels use brand affiliation to intensify their customers’ base that generates high profitability.
Once the brand name is established, there is a recognition that customers embrace.
The greatest challenges and difficulties for a small hotel are to make its mark in a sea of branding concepts where the big hotels have huge marketing machineries that help them ensure a brand loyalty concept. Eventually, this ensures that revenue is guaranteed through an intensive approach which often spans several countries. Brands in a sense have become the mirror of the way people live and conceptualise their needs. For the Hotel industry, they tell us a story about the hotel and convey a message – for example, the image it wants to project, the range of facilities on offer, the price of a room.
Brands let guests know what to expect from the experience of staying at a particular hotel. As an independent property, our website is probably your most powerful, cost-effective channel.
We make sure that we are putting our brand name forward and explore every opportunity to get the most out of our own website and other websites.

We are slowly realising the importance of engaging with our target audience via social media channels to help increase our overall online presence with limited financial means that still remain a big hurdle for small hotels. When looking to engage with online media, take advantage of the power of ad networks since you are able to tap into thousands of websites with competitive cost per click rates. OTA (Online travel agencies) sites are as important as ever and this is one area where independent hotels have an advantage.

The hotel has reaped huge benefits with almost 50% of the business being achieved through OTAs.
We ensure brand loyalty by catering for the needs of the guests.

At our hotel, we have many repetitive customers and we ensure that on each of their visits, they are satisfied with their stay and we offer cut-throat competitive prices to build up on the customers’ pool.
We are always committed to offer extra services such as free breakfasts for more than one stay at our hotel. Providing excellent service at a low price is our motto to strengthen our brand loyalty.

Brand awareness ensures constant advertising and positive image to customers and brand loyalty helps to combat market competitiveness. Brand loyalty adds value to the goodwill of our hotel. A strong brand awareness and brand loyalty increase the valuation of our business. Brand loyalty acts as marketing to other customers on the market and brings many advantages to our hotel such as more customers that mean higher profitability.

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How does the organisation maintain its
brand name?

How do customers’ complaints impact
on the brand
name of the company?



What level of service do you perceive /
aim for?



Do you think the company’s reputation
is determined
through the level of service offered?

Why does the organisation get repeated
business
with existing customers?

What is the organisation’s strategy to
create more businesses?

We have ensured that we can maintain our survival by making the most of all channels possible to earn our market share.

Our first priority remains our customers and we try to offer them the best service in a small independent hotel. A customer is always a king and we try to give them that standard during their stay. We treat customers’ complaints with great concerns as they not only affect our profitability but also our occupancy rate.

Our hotel aims the level of service provided in any big chains of hotels such as the Marriot or Hilton though our employees who are the core assets of the company.
We ensure that our employees provide all the essential customers etiquettes that an employee from a big hotel will give. We are a 3 star hotel but we do aim to provide additional and extra service to customers.

Yes. Not only in hospitality industry but in every industry, we need to acknowledge that a company’s reputation is determined through the service. We get repeated business as we give exceptional and tailored service to existing customers.

We listen and fulfil the needs of every customer and also, we try to form long term relationship with customers by engaging and catering for their needs. We will continue to strive to establish relationship with customers and deepen our online marketing with agencies and social networking exposure.

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8.5

Appendix 5 – Internal Qualitative Research Summary

Qualitative Survey
Questions

Why do you think
branding is important to
the business?

How can branding help to
face market competition?

How can brand awareness
be useful to the business?

Why does the hotel need
brand loyalty from its
customers?

What do you think about
the branding strategy
(marketing and
promotion) of the
company; please give
both positive and negative
views, if any?

Key Facts


Branding acts as an advertising technique that creates reputation for the hotel. Branding is the essence as it creates an image and recognition for the hotel. Brings high profits to the business.
Branding creates value and competitive advantages for the hotel. Branding determine ratings and attract customers.

Branding influence the success of the hotel as successful brands bring more customers which mean more revenues.

Brand name helps to resist market competition. It helps to distinguish distinct logo and image of a company.

People tend to be attached to brand name and thus it is important to create a strong brand reputation to get more customers than other competitors. 
Strong brand name creates more opportunities to the business such as customers opt to use your reputation instead that of competitors. 
Acts as an advertisement.

Branding creates characteristics that people are looking for. Branding determine customers’ perceptions.

Creates distinct image for the hotel this helps to reduce market competitiveness. 
Acts as recognition and customers are accustomed to that image and choose the hotel instead of competitors.

Branding helps to attract customers instead of going to other competitors. 
Branding acts as an established reputation and often makes itself as primary choice over other competitors.

Branding acts as a trust that customers will choose over other competitors. 
Brand awareness creates consciousness and identity among customers. Make customers aware of the services available.


Increase the opportunity of having more customers.

Brand awareness helps customers to recall and recognise the hotel and they come again.

Make customers aware and information about brand is very important. 
Acts as publicity and as a constant reminder.

Brand awareness generates more customers on a larger scale.

Brand awareness acts as a display of the brand name, all publicity is good publicity.

Brand awareness increases the popularity of the hotel which means more customers.

Acts as advertising and marketing on the market. Brand awareness encourages recommendation and reviews.

Brand loyalty creates repetitive businesses and higher profits most importantly, competitive advantages.

Frequent guests can result in higher reviews and recommendation which can be very helpful for the business.

Creates strong customer base.

Brand loyalty is important to combat market competitiveness. 
Brand loyalty helps to keep occupancy high.

Repetitive visits create marketing for the hotel. If brand loyalty is high, there is little need for marketing and costs reduce.

Strong brand loyalty acts as a standard of the hotel and the service
provided. 
Effective marketing due to the effective use of adverts on travelling websites. 
Use of internet to advertise the hotel and this aim broad scale of customers. 
Major agents such as booking.com, lastminute.com, expedia.com are used to advertise the hotel.

The hotel issues nice brochures to give to guests.

Major search engines recognise the hotel.

The marketing is done on a global scale with many overseas agents. Negative Views:

More promotions such as vouchers can be considered as marketing techniques. 
Need to consider negative feedback on the hotel that are left on website as this contribute to negative marketing.

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In your opinion, what can
be done further to
enhance / improve the
brand name of the hotel?

Need to use social networking more.
Need to consider offers and packages as the hospitality industry is very competitive.


Improve service standard to higher quality.
Consider complaints more seriously and give concessions to customers if they are unhappy with the service.

Attempt to increase credit ratings on websites through better and competitive quality and price.
Constant refurbishment can help to boost the image and brand name of the hotel.
Use more social media that helps to build the brand name of the hotel. Bring the hotel to a more modern standard and this will positively impact n the brand name.
Give impressive customer service to guests.
Provide more facilities within the hotel and this will add value to the brand name of the hotel.
Invest in marketing and improve website.
Provide training to employees to deliver better service to customers. Brand name is the reflection of my preference for a product or service. Brand name is the goodwill that a company has earned due to good quality. Brand name means established satisfactory service or product. Brand name is a recognition, trust and guarantee.

Brand name is a reputation and expectation that I can trust. Brand name is the personality of a product and service.
Brand name is an established quality normally at a higher cost. Brand name means an image that I recognise.






In a few words, what does
‘brand name’ means to

you?









Page 65 of 73

8.6

Appendix 6 – Focus Group Summary

Participants

How can you help to build a strong brand name for the company?

What do you think promote the image of the company?

Participant 1

“Exceptional
customer
service”.

“Advertising”
.

Participant 2

“Marketing and expanding the public relations’ network” “Be part of the team and offer good customer service”

“Presentable website and decor of the hotel”

“Functional and effective”.

“Friendly atmosphere and excellent service”.

“Not bad”.

Participant 4

“Establish good connections with customers”.

“Reliable advertising”.

“Good brand management and promotion of the hotel”.

Participant 5

“Provide good assistance to customers”.

“Marketing and service quality”.

“Informative as it helps to attract customers”.

Participant 3

What do you think about the brand management at the corporate level “It’s useful & result in advantages”.

Why do you think that it is important to promote the brand name? “In order for the company to
succeed”. “To compete with other hotels”

What do you understand by the context of customer service?

What do you think can be done to improve the brand name?

“Service to customers”.

“Advertising and impeccable service”.

“Satisfactory service to customers”

“Communicate with customers through advertisements”.

“To occupy a good place in the market”.

“The service offered to customers”

“To make the hotel famous and attract more and more customers”. “Because it helps to create an image for the hotel”.

“Customer service is the representation of the hotel brand name”.

“Improve
marketing
tactics and
inform
customers of
available
services”.
“Video
advertising on
the internet”.

Page 66 of 73

“Customer is king
and we need to
provide necessary
help when
required”.

“More
advertising,
promotion and
better service to
customers”.

Is there
anything you
can
personally
add to the
brand as an
employee?
“Enthusiasm
and
dedication”.
“Work hard to
provide
customers
with good
service”.
“Provide help
to customers
when
necessary”.

“Cooperation
and support
to the hotel’s
goals”.
“Be friendly
as this will
help the
brand name
to be
stronger”.

8.7

Appendix 7 – Qualitative Analysis – Graphs Workouts

Why do you think branding is important to the business?

Percentage

No/Persons

Essence of any business

13

2

Image & recognition

13

2

Value & higher credit ratings

19

3

Resist market competitiveness

31

5

Attract customers

25

4

How can branding help to face market competition?

Percentage

No/Persons

People tend to attach to brand name

19

3

To get more customers

13

2

Higher opportunities

6

1

Reduce market competitiveness

44

7

Acts as a trust on the market

19

3

How can brand awareness be useful to the business?

Percentage

No/Persons

Creates consciousness & identity

25

4

Inform customers

13

2

Increase the opportunity to boost up customers’ base

13

2

Encourage repetitive visits

44

7

Acts as an advertising and marketing

6

1

Why does the hotel need brand loyalty from its customers?

Percentage

No/Persons

Creates repetitive business

44

7

Generate higher revenues

25

4

Competitive advantages

31

5

What do you think about the branding strategy of the company?

%

No/Persons

Effective

75

12

Ineffective

25

4

Page 67 of 73

8.8

Appendix 8 – External Quantitative Research

External Questionnaire Analysis

General Information
%

Persons/25

First time guests

52

13

Non first time guests

48

12

Business

28

7

Tourist

52

13

Casual and unexpected

8

2

Repetitive

12

3

Location

68

17

Environment/Accessibility

4

1

Room rate

16

4

Hotel facilities

0

0

Chose by agent/company

12

3

Any other reason

0

0

Positive

88

22

Negative

12

3

Service quality

4

1

Price

16

4

Facilities offered

0

0

Location

80

20

Any other

0

0

Service quality

8

2

Price

4

1

Facilities offered

80

20

Location

8

2

Any other

0

0

Very Good

12

3

Good

76

19

Don’t Know

0

0

Poor

12

3

Very Poor

0

0

4

1

Visit Description

Reason of Visit

Image Of The Hotel From Customers’ Perspectives
Satisfaction of Overall Service

Best Characteristic of Hotel

Worst Characteristic Of The Hotel

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Service Etiquettes
Very Good

Page 68 of 73

Good

84

21

Don’t Know

0

0

Poor

12

3

Very Poor

0

0

Very Good

4

1

Good

68

17

Average

16

4

Poor

4

1

Very poor

4

1

Agree

76

19

Disagree

24

6

Very Good

8

2

Good

80

20

Don’t Know

0

0

Poor

4

1

Very Poor

8

2

Strongly Agree

8

2

Agree

52

13

Neither Agree or Disagree

28

7

Disagree

12

3

Strongly Disagree

0

0

The Hotel Can Strongly Endure market Competitiveness Through Its Reputation
Strongly Agree

12

3

Agree

60

15

Neither Agree or Disagree

20

5

Disagree

4

1

Strongly Disagree

4

1

Service Quality vs. Price

Branding and The Hotel
Level of Service vs. Reputation

Staff Contribution Towards The Reputation Of The Hotel

Brand Name is Very Important To The Hotel

The Hotel Effectively Manages Its Reputation Through Excellent Customer Service Strongly Agree

4

1

Agree

76

19

Neither Agree or Disagree

4

1

Disagree

8

2

Strongly Disagree

8

2

The Hotel Promotes Brand Awareness Effectively Through Advertising And Promotions Strongly Agree

8

2

Agree

72

18

Neither Agree or Disagree

8

2

Disagree

12

3

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Brand Awareness Is Important

Page 69 of 73

Strongly Agree

84

21

Agree

12

3

Neither Agree or Disagree

4

1

Disagree

0

0

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Strongly Agree

8

2

Agree

72

18

Neither Agree or Disagree

16

4

Disagree

4

1

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Strongly Agree

4

1

Agree

12

3

Neither Agree or Disagree

16

4

Disagree

68

17

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Strongly Agree

12

3

Agree

0

0

Neither Agree or Disagree

4

1

Disagree

80

20

Strongly Disagree

4

1

The Hotel

48

12

Other Competing Hotels

16

4

I Don’t Know

36

9

Positive Response

76

19

Negative Response

4

1

I Don’t Know

20

5

Yes

56

14

No

16

4

Maybe

28

7

Yes

84

21

No

16

4

Yes

72

18

No

16

4

Neutral

12

3

Brand Loyalty Is Important

There Is A Lack Of Brand Awareness

The Hotel Offers Poor Level of Service And Which Affect The Brand Loyalty

Other Key Facts
Preferred Hotel To Stay

Overall Reputation Of The Hotel

Would You Visit The Hotel Again?

Would You Recommend The Hotel To A friend/Relative?

Brand Name Is Very Important To Me

Page 70 of 73

8.9

Appendix 9 – Internal Qualitative Research

Internal Questionnaire Analysis
General Information
%

Persons/16

Male

25

4

Female

75

12

Less than 6 months

13

2

Less than 12 months

44

7

More than 2 years

13

2

More than 3 years

13

2

More than 5 years

13

2

10 years and above

6

1

Front desk manager

6

1

Front desk employees

44

7

Barman

6

1

Chamber maids

44

7

Strongly Agree

44

7

Agree

38

6

Neither Agree or Disagree

6

1

Disagree

6

1

Strongly Disagree

6

1

Gender

Employment Period

Employment Role

Branding and the hotel
The hotel holds a strong reputation in the marketplace

The hotel promotes brand image through excellent customer services Strongly Agree

50

8

Agree

25

4

Neither Agree or Disagree

13

2

Disagree

13

2

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Strongly Agree

38

6

Agree

44

7

Neither Agree or Disagree

6

1

Disagree

6

1

Strongly Disagree

6

1

Strongly Agree

44

7

Agree

25

4

Neither Agree or Disagree

19

3

Disagree

12

2

The hotel creates good brand awareness

The hotel holds strong brand loyalty from customers

Page 71 of 73

Strongly Disagree

0

0

The hotel implements continuous marketing to be competitive on the market Strongly Agree

38

6

Agree

31

5

Neither Agree or Disagree

6

1

Disagree

25

4

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Strongly Agree

0

0

Agree

19

3

Neither Agree or Disagree

13

2

Disagree

38

6

Strongly Disagree

31

5

The hotel has a poor brand awareness and loyalty strategy

Importance of branding
Brand name is very important for any business, especially for small businesses Strongly Agree

88

14

Agree

6

1

Neither Agree or Disagree

0

0

Disagree

0

0

Strongly Disagree

6

1

Strongly Agree

56

9

Agree

44

7

Neither Agree or Disagree

0

0

Disagree

0

0

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Strongly Agree

63

10

Agree

38

6

Neither Agree or Disagree

0

0

Disagree

0

0

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Strongly Agree

69

11

Agree

25

4

Neither Agree or Disagree

0

0

Disagree

6

1

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Brand name helps to tackle competition on the marketplace

Brand awareness is an ongoing process

Brand awareness is crucial for any businesses

It is critical to promote brand loyalty to survive competition in the market
place Strongly Agree

50

8

Agree

44

7

Neither Agree or Disagree

6

1

Disagree

0

1

Strongly Disagree

0

1

I feel proud of the brand name of the hotel

Page 72 of 73

Strongly Agree

44

7

Agree

25

4

Neither Agree or Disagree

13

2

Disagree

19

3

Strongly Disagree

0

0

Personally, I contribute to the brand awareness and brand loyalty of the hotel Strongly Agree

50

8


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