INSTITUTE OF DISTANCE LEARING, KNUST
TOPIC: THE EFFECT OF BRANDING ON CUSTOMER GROWTH IN THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY (A CASE STUDY OF VODAFONE GHANA)
BY PINAMANG FRANCIS WILLIAMS
A RESEARCH PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO THE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS STUDIES IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF
COMMONWEALTH MASTERS OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
Branding has emerged as a top management priority in the last decade due to the growing realization that brands are one of the most valuable intangible assets that firms have. Driven in part by this intense industry interest, academic researchers and telecommunication industries have explored a number of different brand-related topics in recent years, generating scores of papers, articles, research reports, and books.
Brands serve several valuable functions. At their most basic level, brands serve as markers for the offerings of a firm. For customers, brands can simplify choice, promise a particular quality level, reduce risk, and/or engender trust. Brands are built on the product itself, the accompanying marketing activity, and the use (or non-use) by customers as well as others.
Brands thus reflect the complete experience that customers have with products. Brands also play an important role in determining the effectiveness of marketing efforts such as advertising and channel placement and since the telecommunication industry depends highly on marketing, there is the need strengthen a brand. Finally, brands are assets in the financial sense. Thus, brands manifest their impact at three primary levels – customer-market, product-market, and financial-market. The value accrued by these various benefits is often called brand equity and these help telecom companies achieve customer growth and maintain competitive advantage.
Brand positioning also sets the direction of marketing activities and programs – what the brand should and should not do with its marketing. Brand positioning involves establishing key brand associations in the minds of customers and other important constituents to differentiate the brand and establish (to the extent possible) competitive superiority (Keller et al. 2002). Besides the obvious issue of selecting tangible product attribute levels (e.g., double bonus for any recharge), two particularly relevant areas to positioning are the role of brand intangibles and the role of corporate images and reputation.
An important and relatively unique aspect of branding is the focus on brand intangibles– aspects of the brand image that do not involve physical, tangible, or concrete attributes or benefits (see Levy 1999). Brand intangibles are a common means by which marketers differentiate their brands with consumers (Park, Jaworski, and MacInnis 1986) and transcend physical products (Kotler and Keller 2006). Intangibles cover a wide range of different types of brand associations, such as actual or aspirational user imagery; purchase and consumption imagery; and history, heritage, and experiences (Keller 2001).
A variety of branding and marketing activities can be conducted to help achieve the desired brand positioning and build brand equity. Their ultimate success depends to a significant extent not only on how well they work singularly, but also on how they work in combination, such that synergistic results occur. In other words, marketing activities have interaction effects among themselves as well as main effects and interaction effects with brand equity. Three noteworthy sub-areas of this topic are the brand-building contribution of brand elements; the impact of coordinated communication and channel strategies on brand equity; and the interaction of company-controlled and external events.
Brands would exist even if no money were spent on advertising and promotion for...