Paper info: The relevance and role of branding in project activities
The relevance and role of branding in project activities
Florence CRESPIN MAZET andSitz Lionel
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.
Branding theory has been largely developed in the context of consumer products where it found its origin. Traditionally, the brand is presented as a market signal mostly targeted to the end consumers and enabling them to save time by guaranteeing a certain level of quality, simplifying their choices (easily identifying products and attributes), and answering to specific needs - hedonistic, ethical, or individual (Kapferer, 1992 ). The brand enables the producer to position its offering relative to competition and to emphasize its distinctive qualities and benefits for the consumers. More recently, the brand also has been found to have a federating power (Dacin & Brown, 2006, Handelman, 2006) between individual customers (Arvidsson, 2005).Little research has been done to investigate the relevance and the role of brands in industrial markets and in particular in project business. Some authors have started to emphasize the importance of branding in industrial markets (Webster & Keller, 2004, Lynch & de Chernatony, 2004) but their contributions do not address the case of project exchanges. Project activities are characterized by the discontinuity of transactions (low frequency of purchase), complexity (involvement of numerous business and non business actors), and uniqueness (Cova, Ghauri & Salle, 2002). As a result, there is no repeated purchase and no pre-determined product or offering as each project is specifically designed for a given customer. Thus the traditional role of brands as a signal summarizing the benefits of a product with relatively stable attributes (Kapferer, 1992 ) does not apply. Consequently, very few project firms have relied on product brands to promote their activities thus far and their branding strategies has been mostly restricted to their corporate brands.The objective of this paper is to examine the relevance and the role of branding in project business. It is based on an in-depth case study of a major construction contractor, which decided to develop a branding strategy to promote its project activities in the early 2000s. Three brands dedicated to three different types of project activities have been developed over time. In this case, the brand essence is the contractor's processes formalized in a set of contractor's commitments.