Brand relationship?

Winter Park (Orlando), Florida, USA
Defining brand relationships based
on image-in-use and image heritage
PhD Anne Rindell,
Professor Tore Strandvik
HANKEN School of Economics,
CERS: Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management
Helsinki, Finland
 Relationships in Relationship Marketing
 Brand relationships
 Our proposal: Brand relationships defined from a time
 Future research
Rindell/ Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Relationships in
Relationship marketing and management
indicate time, behavior and attitude dimensions
In RM relationship principles focus on business activities i.e.
they require activities from both parties involved. Therefore,
the focus is on customers and other stakeholders, not
on consumers in general
» In a B2B context, a relationship can be considered to exist in cases of a
contract or repeat purchase
» Indications: time; either contract or repeated purchase behavior
» In B2C context, a relationship is defined based on the customer’s
attitude and behavior (contract or repeat purchase) (Strandvik 1998)
»Indications: time; contract/repeated purchase behavior and
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Relationship Marketing
» Relationship marketing can be defined as the deliberate
management of customers and other stakeholders so that
relationships with them are initiated, cultivated and
dissolved in such a way that the company achieves and
maintains its competitiveness.
» Creation entails discovery, choice of partner, initiation, and even
rejection to initiate a relationship
» Cultivation entails development and enhancement of created
relationships and prevention of unplanned dissolution of these
» Dissolution entails taking initiative to terminate, but also to manage
the termination process so that re-establishment and establishment of
other relationships will be possible. (Strandvik 1998)
 Conclusion: Business focus
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Brand relationships –
metaphoric, imagined, and time
 Branding / Business relationships: Company perspective
Continuing mutual agreement between two parties who agree to
participate in the ongoing relationship (Schultz, Barnes, Schultz and
Azzaro 2009)
 Mental relationships: Consumer perspective
Consumers are willing to consider brands as relationship partners
(based on a literature review; Hayes, Alford, Silver and York 2006)
Brand relationships are meaning-laden resources engaged to help
people live their lives. They are multiplex process phenomena. (Fournier
 Collective brand relationships
Society creates the brand (O’Guinn and Muniz 2009)
Brands are cultural blueprints (Holt 2002)
Conclusions: Brand relationships are metaphoric (Bengtsson 2003;
Story and Hess 2006) imagined (O’Guinn and Muniz 2009), and they
have a time dimension .
Consider this example ...........
» “It was Saturday and I came out to the parking place
outside our house. Our neighbour had just arrived from a
shopping trip and was unpacking his car. My presence
obviously got him embarrassed, he took his time when
unpacking his car and finally, as I didn’t leave, he began to
excuse himself for having shopping bags from a shop for
home decoration that had opened up some time ago
nearby. He explained he got an impulse all of a sudden to
look into the shop, although he doesn’t usually shop there.
It had been a real surprise for him to find out that they sold
nice, good quality things and that the shop was really fresh
and inviting. He was still embarrassed and tried to
convince me to visit the shop in order to find out myself
and verify the difference.”
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Image? Brand relationship?
What images does he refer to? What does he think mine are?
Past, present, future?
What is his brand relationship over time?
When did it start? What has happened? How does it still influence?
How and when does it end?
What is mine?
We propose, that
 A brand relationship is the consumer’s mental relationship with
the brand [over time]
It develops over time and can be studied using two novel brand
image concepts: image in use and image heritage
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
“Image is the consumer’s reality”
David Bernstein, 1984
“Brand image is the consumer’s’ perceptions about a brand, as
reflected by the brand associations held in consumer memory”
(Keller, 2008,51)
“Image is the consumer’s idea of a product” (David Ogilvy)
Brand images are dynamic processes, influenced by a multifaceted
network of images from multiple sources over time (Rindell 2007)
“If anyone can build a brand it is the customer. Marketers cannot
do that. They can only create favourable conditions
for a brand to develop in customers’ minds” (Grönroos, 2007, p. 229)
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Time in branding literature:
Concepts and perspectives
Time dimension
Past, Present and
Heritage Brands
(Urde et al. 2008)
Brand Icons (Holt
Brand Heritage
Retro branding (e.g.
Brown et al 2003)
Nostalgic brands
(Simms and Trott
Image Heritage
(Rindell 2007)
(Fombrun et al.
2003, 230)
(e.g. Braun-La Tour,
La Tour, Zinkhan
Image heritage and image-in-use studies
Finnish retailing context
Rindell, A (2007). Image heritage. The temporal dimension in consumers’ corporate image constructions. Doctoral thesis.
Research question: How are consumers constructing corporate images?
Method: Grounded theory
Data: 35 accounts (21-75 year-old informants): 12 in-dept open interviews; 11 written accounts; 1 group interview; 7
learning diaries.
International retailing context
Rindell, Edvardsson, Strandvik (2010) “Mapping the roots of the consumer’s image-in-use of companies”. Journal of
Product and Brand Management. Vol. 19,No 6
Case IKEA Finland, Sweden and Germany, 2006-2009, data: 30 interviews
Banking sector
Strandvik, T and Rindell, A (2006): Nordea bank, C2B context . Conference proceedings
Räyhäntausta, P (2007): GE-money, B2B context. Master’s thesis
Product Brand Context “Diesel”
Rindell, Mickelsson (2010). “Consumers constructing product brands”. Conference proceedings
24 in-depth open interviews (75 pages) on the product brand “Diesel”
Case: Diesel
Consumer practice
Rindell, Korkman, Gummerus (2011 forthcoming) “Consumer practice of Image-in-Use”. Journal of Product and Brand
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Female 23 years old
Male 48 years old
“My earliest association from the
store are from my childhood. I visited
the shop with my mother and the
shop was in two floors. As a small
child I especially liked the escalators,
which were rare in a small city like
Kajaani. Already at that time we
bought sewing things and yarn from
“My image origins from the times of
the founder [50 years back in
time] and his mail order
company. He even sold anything
that was cheap, mattresses and
whatever. It started from there,
and grew, according to whatever
was cheap. It was the theme back
there and went to look for new
then and it has stamped the
curtain cloths. We didn’t buy cloth
company a lot”
from there, they were not such good
quality and the selection was not as
Image heritage:
Activated earlier
brand-related images
which influence
the present
image construction
process, the imagein-use.
broad as nowadays. The toy
department was exciting and I would
have liked to spend more time there”
copyright Anne Rindell
Image Heritage
Image heritage are activated earlier brand-related images from various sources over time, which
influence on the present image construction process.
Answers the question How and Why past experiences influence on present image construction process
 Image Heritage is defined through its dimensions:
 length of the awareness time span
 When does the brand relationship start
 What is the dynamics of it?
 Who / What initiated it
 “it’s the company from where my Granny bought her pullover” (male 48 years old)
 “I was a newcomer in town and my fried guided me to shop there” (female 47
years old)
 content of earlier memories
 Past experiences over time consumers associate to in various contexts
 From many sources
 They can be own experiences, learnt knowledge from e.g. parents, others
experiences, company activity
 Image dynamics, includes both cognitive and emotional aspects
 main temporal focus
 Those past experiences that significantly influence present images.
 What eras/ age/ life context do they represent in the consumer’s life
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Image heritage dimensions
Main temporal
Male, 49, I
Awareness time span: 40-50
Male, 43, I
Awareness time span: 40 years
Female, 42, I
Awareness time span: 35 years
Content of earlier experiences
Male, 31, I
Awareness time span: 25 years
Female, 31, A
Awareness time span: 10 years
Female, 28, A
Awareness time span: 15 years
Image Heritage dimensions
* Awareness time span
* Content
* Temporal Focus
Female, 27, A
Awareness time span: 20 years
Female, 25, A
Awareness time span: 5 years
Length of an awareness time span
Female, 23, A
Awareness time span: 50 years
The company’s history
Data gathering
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Present: Image-in-use
 Image-in-use is the present image construction process. It is
influenced by [past] image heritage, the present context, and future
Plans for
wine cellar
”Wine & Spirit
education trust”
Customs (import)
Wine fairs
about wine
Informal winetastings with
Plans to
start wine
wine association
study circle
Wine travel
Figure: A consumer’s activity context concerning
a specific field of interest (wine). Source: Karl-Jacob
Image heritage and Image in use
For companies and other stakeholders
Image heritage is a concept for understanding
 how and why our messages are interpreted as they are
 what and how to communicate to various stakeholder groups.
Image-in-use is a concept for understanding
 where, when and with whom, and with what content
consumers construct brand meanings and images
Image heritage and image-in-use captures the temporal, social, cultural
and contextual dimensions of image
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Future research
A brand relationship is the consumer’s mental relationship
with the brand [over time]
» Brand relationships studied from a time perspective
» Brand relationship dynamics
»How, why and when do brand relationships start, develop, change
and end
» Brand love vs. Brand avoidance dynamics
» Latent and Fading Brand relationships
» Conscious vs. Unconscious Brand relationships
» Behavior as a dimension in Brand relationships
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics
Thank You!
Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan / Hanken School of Economics