5.2 Key conclusions: answering the research questions
5.2.1 What is the role of brand management within UK media organisations?
This question sought to understand brand management practices in UK media organisations, with consideration as to whether brand management was present; to what extent was it structured and intentional; what were the main elements used in brand management and what was its main purpose.
It can be concluded, in alignment with current knowledge (Aaker 2000; De
Chernatony 2010; Chan-Olmsted 2011; Kapferer 2012), that a structured approach to the management of a brand is common practice and prevalent across UK media organisations. This research confirms existing knowledge which recognises that media organisations take brand building and therefore brand management seriously and as an integral remit of their organisations (Ots 2008; Chan-Olmsted 2011;
Johnson 2012; Malmelin and Moisander 2014; Lischka et al.2018). Although
identifying that a small minority of UK media organisations do not have in place fully structured brand management practices, it can also be concluded that this in
alignment with existing understanding of organisations lacking structured brand management approaches (Ahonen 2008; Horan et al. 2011) which identifies not only the ad hoc nature of branding activities but also the desire of those organisations to do branding activity.
It can also be determined that brand management within UK media organisations does play a strategic role in creating, developing and maintaining all types of media
163 brands. From this research it was clear that the majority of brands managed by UK media organisations are corporate media brands, yet sub-brands such as channels, programmes and content are also managed. This is in alignment with the brand architecture approach of the ‘Branded House’ (Aaker and Joachimsthaler 2000) whereby sub brands have the same or a different yet identifiable identity to the corporate brand. This supports existing evidence in other contexts (Balmer 1995; Ind 1997; Balmer 2001; Hatch and Schultz 2003) which advocates the creation of a strong corporate brand, with a portfolio sub brands. It also aligns with the research by Singh and Oliver (2015) that conveys the importance of strong corporate media brands.
The research concludes that UK media organisations which also operate in a B2B environment recognise the value of branding to enhance their business relationships.
This concurs and adds further evidence to the relatively small body of work which argues the value of establishing corporate brands in B2B contexts (Beverland et al.
2007; Kopercic and Halinen 2018) and provides new evidence in the field of media management.
In addition, the research concludes that having a clear sense of identity is prevalent for media brands and the management of the brand identity is done at both a strategic and tactical level. This concurs with the knowledge from traditional brand research (De Chernatony 1999; Aaker 2000) in that having a clear identity underpins successful brands and that it needs to be given strategic importance supported in its implementation by planned tactical initiatives. The outcome of this research adds new knowledge in the area of media brand management as empirical brand identity research is lacking (Forster 2007; Siegert et al. 2011; Singh and Oliver 2015).
164 This research confirms and adds depth to existing knowledge which recognises branding as a strategic imperative within the media industry (Chan-Olmsted 2011;
Malmelin and Moisander 2014) and that UK media organisations can gain
competitive advantage through branding (Lischka et al. 2018). Although Krebs and Siegert (2015) asserted that brand strategy and brand management have received the most interest from media brand researchers, the main discussions have been rather narrow, looking at the management of brands from the perspective of
marketing tools. This research emphasises that brand management does include the use of marketing tools such as communication, co-branding and research, but it also identifies that brand management has a clear strategic remit. This research concurs with Chan-Olmsted (2006, 2011) that brands are integral to the strategic future of media organisations and provides rationale that an evolving digital, social and global environment is the impetus for this focus. This research answers the need for a much greater consideration of the strategic nature of brand management (Malmelin and Moisander 2014). It does this by furthering understanding of the strength in building a corporate media brand and sub brands; the nature of B2B branding for media brands; and the ubiquitous nature of brand identity and the importance placed on it by UK media organisations.
To conclude, brand management is an integral part of the remit of the majority of UK media organisations. It is strategic, tactical and structured. The original conceptual framework which brought together the thinking about structured brand management practices is supported and strengthened from the research. This is shown on Figure 9 which transposes onto the original conceptual framework the position of each of the UK media organisations in the sample in relation to their approach to brand
management practices and facilitation of brand co-creation activities.
165 Figure 9: transposition onto the original conceptual framework of each of the UK media organisations in the sample in relation to their approach to brand management practices and facilitation of brand co-creation activities
Aris and Bughin (2009) identified that brand management, in the dynamic and complex media industry, was key for organisational success. From this research it can be concluded that on the whole, the UK media industry has embraced this requirement. .
5.2.2 Does brand co-creation exist in UK media organisations and what is its role within brand management practices?
This question was about investigating whether brand co-creation exists in UK media organisations and if it does what role it may be playing in brand management
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166 It can be concluded from this research that brand co-creation activity is occurring in brand management activity of UK media organisations. This confers with the wide body of existing brand co-creation research (Merz et al. 2009; Kazadi et al. 2016; Ind and Schmidt 2020), and the limited academic knowledge in media industry (Ots and Hartmann 2015; Malmelin and Villi 2017; Bange et al. 2019). Yet this research adds greater empirical evidence in the context of the UK media industry as it was
conducted across a wide variety of media organisations rather than adopting the singular organisation case study approach of previous media industry research.
This research confirms that media brand management provides a framework for organisational processes which underpin media brand co-creation; brand co-creation activities are facilitated as part of brand management. Media brand co-creation does not occur unless structured brand management practices are in place.
This aligns with the original conceptual framework (Figure 3) which argued that structured brand management practices will facilitate a greater occurrence of brand co-creation activity. Figure 9, which transposes onto the original conceptual
framework the position of each of the UK media organisations in the sample in
relation to their approach to brand management practices and facilitation of brand co- creation activities, not only shows the prevalence of structured brand management practices but presents the linkage to brand co-creation activities. Therefore, it can be concluded that UK media organisations do require structured brand management practices if they are to facilitate brand co-creation activities. Without structured brand management practices, brand co-creation activities do not occur.
On further understanding as to the nature of the media brand co-creation activities it can be concluded that the majority of media brand co-creation activities are planned
167 and are of a tactical nature, however brand co-creation does also play a more
strategic role. This aligns with the increasingly strategic nature of branding in media organisations and concurs with Ind et al. (2017) who identified a scale of brand co- creation activities from tactical to strategic. From the research it can be argued that ideation generation, feedback and content creation were the main purposes of media brand co-creation and these were led by the organisation by instigating collaborative initiatives. This supports existing knowledge (Kennedy and Guzman 2016; Malmelin and Villi 2017) around the purpose of brand co-creation. However, media brand co- creation was also identified to play a more strategic role in the recruitment and development of future talent as well as in collaborative innovative around the future of a media brand. UK media organisations facilitate brand co-creation activity by putting in place activities and structures to both ‘cultivate’ a feeling of passion and connection to the brand, as well as to instigate opportunities to ‘collaborate’ on a number of research and content generation activities.
In considering where media brand co-creation activities occurred, it is concluded that both offline and online spaces were used to facilitate media brand co-creation. The use of the online space is supported by previous academic discussion about how technological advances provide digital social spaces ideal for co-creation (Kozinets et al. 2008; Füller et al. 2009; Iglesias et al. 2013; Ind and Coates 2013; Ramaswamy and Ozcan 2016). Use of the offline space, for example hosting ideation days with customers and users, is receiving less attention in the brand co-creation research yet it can be argued from this study that offline spaces have a role to play in where to facilitate brand co-creation.
168 In addition to identifying the type of media brand co-creation activity and where that activity may occur, the research also draws important conclusions about who plays an important role in media brand co-creation. The research emphasises the crucial role that employees within UK media organisations play in both brand building and brand co-creation. This corroborates existing knowledge about the importance of employees within branding (Hatch and Schultz 2003). However the research provides further insight into the involvement of employees in the branding process, confirming that the key mechanisms to employee engagement around a brand are internal communication and training. Although this supports findings by Punjari and Wilson (2017), it can be inferred that this is a new area of insight within the context of