The five phases of SME brand building

Centeno, Edgar and Hart, Susan and Dinnie, Keith (2013) The five phases of SME brand building. Journal of Brand Management, 20 (6). pp. 445-457. ISSN 1350-231X (

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The purpose of this article is to examine how brands are built in small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to develop a conceptual model of SME brand-building. The research design is based on an a priori conceptual framework that helped direct the fieldwork, data analysis and findings. A series of semi-structured interviews was conducted among 35 owner/managers from 30 firms. The results indicate that SME brands are built in a non-traditional manner and contrary to large firm brand building, with minimum brand planning and limited resources. SME brand-owner/managers and employees engage in brand exploration phases where they experiment in a spirit of trial and error based on risk-taking, commitment, creativity and willingness to learn. Based on these results, the article develops a model of the five phases of SME brand-building. The five-phase model represents an actionable framework for managers in an SME context. The model also presents scholars with a theoretical foundation upon which to construct further theory development.