Francesca Dall’Olmo Riley
The study of brands and brand management has historically attracted a great deal of interest among practitioners and academics. Early, seminal research on brands includes the studies by Gardner and Levy (1955), Levy (1959), Martineau (1959) and Allison and Uhl (1964).
Since then, the number of brand related journal articles and of brand management books have increased exponentially, particularly in the last 20 years. Two academic Journals (the Journal of Brand Management and the Journal of Product and Brand Management) are entirely devoted to the study of brands. In addition, a number of special issues have focused on specific topics in branding, for instance the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing (2007) Special Issue on Branding in Industrial Markets, the European Journal of Marketing (2003) Special Issue on Corporate and Service Brands and the Journal of Marketing (1994) Special Issue on Brand Management. Moreover, most marketing and consumer behaviour conferences include a „branding‟ or „brand management‟ track. There are also frequent specialist conferences (e.g. the annual „Thought Leaders International Conference on Brand Management‟) and a number of Special Interest Groups (e.g. the Academy of Marketing‟s Brand Identity and Corporate Reputation Special Interest Group). The sheer amount of brand related literature published in the last fifty years in a variety of journals, books and conference proceedings, on a large array of issues and topics, can be overwhelming for brand researchers. The articles chosen for this fourvolume collection aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the status of brand related research, featuring the scholarly debates on a number of still unresolved issues and the contemporary challenges faced by brands and by their managers. Before describing the content of the four volumes and explaining the rationale for selecting each of the articles in the collection, this Introduction will present a general overview of the main unresolved issues in brand management research and the ensuing challenges for academic researchers and practitioners. The starting point is necessarily the debate related to the fundamental question of „what is a brand‟ and the definition of „the brand‟ construct. The examination of what a brand is or, more importantly, how it is understood, is related to different perspectives on the construct of „brand equity‟ and to the diverging standpoints on brand management. The contemporary challenges faced by brands and brand managers are also discussed. Unresolved Issues in Brand Management
A theory of „the brand‟?
Although, as Keller (2006:260) notes, “much progress has been made”, de Chernatony and Dall‟Olmo Riley‟s (1998a:417) observation that “a theory of the brand remains missing” still holds true today, particularly with regards to:
Defining „the brand‟ construct;
Conceptualising and measuring „brand equity‟;
Establishing the relative importance of „tangible‟ versus „intangible‟ or „emotional‟ brand elements, particularly with regards to the „behavioural‟ versus „attitudinal‟ brand loyalty debate;
Whether a „romantic‟ or a „realist‟ standpoint on brands and their management should prevail.
There is wide disagreement amongst researchers in all of the above areas. Defining „the brand‟ construct.
There is no universally accepted definition of the brand construct. The American Marketing Association‟s (AMA) 1960 definition of the brand as a „name, term, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors‟ is widely cited, particularly in the academic literature and textbooks originating from North America (e.g. Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993 and 2008; Kotler and Armstrong, 2007). Interestingly, with few exceptions (e.g. Ewing et...