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Developing Brand Assets with Wireless Devices - Brand Equity, Brand Assets, Brand Assets and the Mobile Channel, M-Branding Methods, Sponsored Content

phone associations loyalty example

The latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st
will be remembered for the rapid development of consumer communication
devices and self-service technologies, most notably the wired Internet,
or the Web, and mobile telecommunications. Improvements in the form of
faster connections, cheaper usage, and sophisticated hardware in
combination with user friendliness have made the Web an increasingly
important medium for consumer interaction. Consequently, leading
marketing practitioners and researchers specialized in branding have
pointed out the need for developing the existing branding frameworks to
accommodate the online world (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000). In
this development, it is essential to include mobile technologies, most
notably the mobile phone, that already offers marketers opportunities
for branding. In the future, when the Internet and mobile technologies
have fully converged, the possibilities for marketers will be even
greater.

The use of mobile devices in marketing and particularly in branding
is still in its infancy. Although studies of mobile services are
starting to emerge (e.g., Barnes & Corbitt, 2003; Heinonen, 2004;
Nordman & Liljander, 2004; Repo, Hyvönen, Panzar &
Timonen,
2004), there is still a lack of literature on marketing activities
enabled by mobile technology (Balasubramanian, Peterson &
Jarvenpaa, 2002; Pura, 2003). Furthermore, to our knowledge, the use of
mobile handsets for branding activities has not been the subject of
research. In this chapter, we address this gap by discussing the
possibilities for mobile branding (m-branding) that are available to
marketers today. The focus is on how brand assets can be developed
through the use of wireless devices, which in this chapter are limited
to cover only mobile phones. At present, the mobile phone is the most
ubiquitously used mobile device; it is estimated that there are one
billion in use worldwide.

Marketing professionals, however, have not yet adapted their brand
strategies to the new technology. The use of mobile phones in marketing
has been characterized by trial-and-error activities and has often been
met by annoyance reactions from consumers. The slow adoption of mobile
technology in branding
may be due to the high penetration of low-end mobile devices without
color displays, small screens, and limited processing capability,
offering primitive and unfriendly brand experiences, which at worst can
detract from the brand’s value, its brand equity. If the predictions of
the future penetration of high-end advanced mobile devices are met,
this may soon change. For example, camera phones have been a market
success (Crocket & Reinhardt, 2003), and leading telecommunications
industry analysts predict that by 2007 some 298 million mobile phones
worldwide will be integrated camera phones (http://www.idc.com).
With color displays and other improvements, better user experiences can
be delivered. However, also less advanced phones can be, and are, used
for branding activities.

In Finland, especially among the young, consumers actively use their
mobile phones for text messaging, downloading ring-tones, picture
logos, and mobile screensavers, ordering mobile horoscopes, playing
mobile games, and participating in mobile chat rooms. The mobile phone
can be considered a device that is always present and turned on. A
personal observation by one of the authors is that, also in Japan, the
mobile phone, particularly the I-mode service, forms a permanent
presence in consumers’ everyday life. For Japanese consumers, using
I-mode services has become a daily routine, including reading the news,
weather reports and cartoons, performing banking activities (e.g.,
checking account balances), m-commerce (e.g., reserving concert, movie,
or airline tickets), e-mailing, and playing games. These examples
demonstrate the growing potential of the mobile channel for marketers.

This chapter discusses the capabilities and opportunities of
m-branding that exist today, as well as its current limitations. The
chapter is structured as follows. First, brand equity and brand assets
are briefly introduced and ways of using the mobile phone in branding
activities are discussed. Second, the m-branding methods that are
available today are presented with examples of how they can be used.
Third, managerial recommendations and future trends of m-branding are
discussed.

Brand Equity

In the 1990s, managers increasingly realized that brands represented
real value for the company and that they needed to pay more attention
to the development of brand equity. Several definitions and
descriptions of brand equity can be
found in the literature (e.g., Aaker, 1991, 1996; Aaker &
Joachmisthaler, 2000; Kapferer, 1997; Keller, 1998), but in summary, it
can be concluded that brand equity is the measured outcome of all
branding activities and that it can be expressed in financial terms. It
is the (financial) value of the brand, based on a number of brand
assets. From a brand manager’s point of view, it is essential that the
brand assets can be managed.

Brand Assets

Aaker and Joachimsthaler (2000) divide brand equity into four
contributing factors, or brand assets: brand awareness, brand
associations, perceived quality, and brand loyalty. The dimensions are
not independent. For example, brand awareness and perceived quality
affect brand associations. Brand associations include all the things
that consumers connect with the brand, such as the brand personality,
product attributes, and symbols. The perceived quality of a brand is
believed to have a direct effect on brand profitability, but it can
also be expected to have a direct effect on brand loyalty (i.e., the
emotional attachment that consumers have to a brand and their repeat
purchasing behavior). The stronger and more positive the brand assets
are, the higher the brand equity.

Since consumer loyalty has, in general, been strongly associated
with positive economic consequences for the company (Reichheld, 1996;
Storbacka, Strandvik, & Gronroos 1994), loyalty can be considered
the company’s most important asset. Defending or increasing brand
loyalty should be one of the goals of m-branding activities. Wireless
devices offer unique consumer values, such as localization, timeliness,
and convenience (Heinonen, 2004; Lindstrom, 2001), which can be used to
form and enhance brand associations and thereby loyalty. However, in
the absence of long-term studies, the existence of these relationships
can only be assumed. It should be noted that although increased brand
loyalty is one of the goals of mobile marketing, short-term campaign
results, in that regard, have been disappointing (Pura, 2003).

The assets need to be communicated to customers in the form of a
coherent brand identity. In m-branding, it is essential that the
identity of the brand matches the unique aspects of the mobile phone,
such as being a forerunner, technologically advanced, or communicative.
For example, the Coca-Cola Company used the mobile channel in a
promotion campaign in Finland in order to make the promotion more
appealing to the young target group and to communicate the link between
the company and continuous innovation.

In general, a thorough identity mapping of the brand (e.g., Aaker,
1996) needs to be performed in order to understand whether the unique
aspects of the mobile phone link with the brand associations that the
particular brand strives for. Without the link, results of m-branding
campaigns are likely to be disappointing.

Brand Assets and the Mobile Channel

Aaker and Joachimsthaler’s (2000) framework of brand assets can also
be applied to m-branding. In particular, three of the assets can be
targeted directly for improvement with the m-branding methods that are
available today. These are brand awareness, brand associations, and
brand loyalty. Perceived quality, in our opinion, can be improved only
indirectly through brand awareness and brand associations. Consumers
are known to use intrinsic cues, for example, taste, shape, and
material and extrinsic cues, for example, price, brand name, and store
name, to infer product quality (Rao & Monroe, 1989). Consumers are
unlikely to infer product quality from the company’s use of a mobile
communication channel, particularly considering the limitations of
current displays and the limited possibilities of communicating quality
aspects through this channel. However, perceived product quality can be
enhanced indirectly by increasing consumers’ brand awareness and by
creating more positive brand associations.

What the mobile phone offers is an anytime anywhere interactive
channel that can be used as a supplement to other communication
channels. It can improve brand associations by providing highly
relevant information and by utilizing the unique aspects of the mobile
phone. All branding activities have to be designed and performed
consistently to achieve improvements to the brand assets. Marketers
also need to be realistic and understand that some assets are easier to
develop than others; brand loyalty is the most difficult. We will now
turn the attention to the specific m-branding methods that are
available for brand managers and marketers today and show how they can
affect brand assets. Concrete examples are provided.

M-Branding Methods

Based on the literature (e.g., Keskinen, 2001; Newell & Newell
Lemon, 2001; Pura, 2003), industry sources (The Forrester Report, 2001;
Ovum Limited, 2000, 2001), one of the authors’ own work experiences,
and discussions with other industry experts, four currently existing
m-branding methods were identified. These are (1) sponsored content,
(2) mobile CRM, (3) different forms of mobile advertising, and (4) a
mobile portal.

Sponsored Content

Ovum Limited (2001) states that “all formats of wireless marketing
message can be delivered either standalone, or as an accompaniment to
content” (p. 112). Sponsored content refers to content that is
sponsored by an established and/or well-recognized brand and which can
be requested by the end-user via a mobile phone. According to Aaker and
Joachimsthaler (2000), sponsorship creates exposure for the brand and
develops the consumers’ brand associations. Sponsored content affects
brand awareness, or recall, through brand exposure and brand
associations by associating positive characteristics with the brand,
for example, innovativeness, advancement, and mobility. In addition,
consumer behavior, though not necessarily long-term loyalty, is
initiated when consumers act on the advertisement. Based on one of the
author’s personal observations and experiences of m-branding campaigns,
consumers appear to be more receptive to advertisements that are
presented together with content, compared to when being exposed to
stand-alone wireless advertisements. According to Ovum Limited (2001),
sponsored content is also perceived as less intrusive. Marketers should
use sponsored content when they have a well-defined target market
(e.g., football enthusiasts) and when they want to differentiate the
company as an innovative sponsor.

A concrete example of sponsored content could be as follows. At any
given time, spectators watching a hockey game at home could request the
interim results of other hockey games through a specific Short Code
Number (SCN, a special phone number used to identify a text message
based mobile phone service, e.g., 17817) displayed on the TV screen.
The SCN could be offered by the sponsor of the hockey game, for
example, a sports equipment retailer. The message that the consumer
receives could include a special offer or
discount on certain items at the store together with the requested
content (results of the other hockey games). In this example, the
consumer pulls or requests the content via Short Messaging Service
(SMS, a text messaging service). The advertising message that
accompanies the content can be ignored or acted on.

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