Contribution of Brand Image and Brand Identity to Gain Competitive Advantage: A Case study of UK Fashion Brands

Scientific Study, 2012

75 Pages


Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background of the Study
1.3 UK Fashion Industry: An overview
1.4 Definition and Importance of Brand and Fashion
1.4.1 What is Fashion?
1.5 The Importance of Brand Positioning:
1.6 Brand Image and Brand Identity
1.7 Problem Statement
1.8 Research Questions
1.9 Aims and Objectives
1.10 Research Structure

2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
2.2 UK Fashion Industry
2.3 Understanding the customer for Brand Image and Brand Identity
2.4 Values-Attitudes-Motives-Behaviour Cascade
2.5 Brand Positioning
2.6 Summary

3.0 Research Methodology
3.1 Research Approach
3.2 Qualitative Research
3.3 Deductive Versus Inductive Research
3.4 Case Study:
3.4.1 Case Study Selection:
3.4.2 Case Study Analysis
3.5 Data Collection
3.5.1 Primary Data
3.5.2 Secondary data
3.5.3 Data Analysis
3.6 Validity and Reliability
3.7 Justification
3.8 Ethics
3.9 Summary

4.0 Data Findings and Data Analysis
4.1 Data Findings
4.1.1 Introduction to Case Studies:
4.1.2 Interview Transcripts
4.1.3 Categorising the Themes
4.2 Data Analysis
4.3 Discussion of Sub-themes
4.4 Key findings in the light of Research Questions and Literature Review
4.5 Proposed Model and Summary

5.0 Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Major Findings
5.1.1 Customers’ Perception of Brand Image and Brand Identity:
5.1.2 Gaining Competitive Advantage
5.2 Limitations
5.3 Recommendations
5.4 Further Research

6.0 Appendix
6.1 Appendix-1: Semi-structure Interview Questions
6.1.1 Introduction
6.1.2 Market Position
6.1.3 Strengths
6.1.4 Brand Development
6.2 References

List of Figures

Figure 1: Firms Expressing their Brand and Brand Values

Figure 2: Brand Image versus Brand Identity

Figure 3: The Values-Behaviour-Cascade

Figure 4: Employing the Value-Behaviour-Cascade for Brand Positioning

Figure 5: Corporate and Marketing Objectives

Figure 6: Position in Relation to Price and Quality

Figure 7: Logos of selected Case Study Fashion Brands

Figure 8: Proposed Model Gaining Competitive Advantage

List of Tables

Table 1: Case Study Brands and respective Products

Table 2: The Emerging Theme: Customer Perception

Table 3: Categorization of Emerged Themes into Sub-theme

Table 4: Sub-theme discussion: Market Entry Strategies

Table 5: Sub-theme discussion: Road Mapping and Product Characteristics

Table 6: Sub-theme discussion: Sponsoring Events and Social Responsibility

Table 7: Sub-theme discussion: Internationalisation and Growth through Acquisitions

Chapter-1: 1.0 Introduction

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same. In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different. The most courageous act is still to think for you! Aloud”

Coco Channel Quotes

True to what Ralph Lauren says, “I don't design clothes, I design dreams”. The most important assets of any business are difficult to measure, measure the dreams of their valuable customers. And to measure the intensity of the dreams, they however have to measure the knowledge base of their technical staff, the competitive spirit of sales staff, and most importantly, the awareness and attitude of their clients’ dreams.

Needless to say the resulting association of a firm in the market place is its brand. Brand reflects the image of a firm, and its ability to attract new customers. The symbols, tags and the slogans of a firm create a measurable impact. They not only act to create specific relationship but also define brand equity. And if the brand’s image and identity is used strategically it becomes a prime source for the firm to gain competitive advantage in the market.

- Craig Park

1.1 Introduction

In today’s fashion industry the heart of strategic management remains with creation of competitive advantage. And creating competitive advantage remains with the image and identity of the brand. This becomes important because in UK competition among the fashion industry has become the most potential predicament, and this is because of the rapid increase of fashion firms in both size and number at various stages of their existence. Moreover with the increase of the growing trends identification of quality garments becomes difficult. It is the brand that could solve this problem as the brand is the true and long lasting asset for any company.

It is the brand that is well recognized and received by the consumers. Under these circumstances it becomes important for the fashion firms to gain competitive advantage through their brand image and brand identity.

In UK the fashion industry is increasing in all directions; size, complexity and professionalism. ‘The electronic media especially the television and the radio that linked fashion at a large scale through advertising and sponsorship highlights the brand and the brand name says, Collins (2000).

Brand image and identity are identified as potential sources of gaining competitive advantage (Amis, 2003). A customer is always influenced by positive brand reputation.

The main idea of the present study is to develop theoretical model for the fashion firms to explain and establish the relationship between Brand Image - Brand Identity - Competitive Advantage.

1.2 Background of the Study

In UK the fashion market is one among the most competitive and scrappy sector, this makes the even more fragmented retail stores dealing with the fashion brands to create considerable influence in the market. Hence, the profile of the fashion brands i.e. the image and identity, act as the representatives of the fashion industry exploring the dynamics growth trends and drivers of the fashion market. As such this paper also attempts to provide a comprehensive picture of the key trends.

1.3 UK Fashion Industry: An overview

In UK there are approximately 11,700 clothing businesses and 117,000 people are employed in the fashion and design industry. It is also estimated that at present the fashion industry on the UK high street is worth £44.5 billion and accounts to 6% of the consumer spending. Research state that during 1960s about 10% of the household expenditure was spent on footwear and garments whereas today; it stands at only 6%. This is because of the competition in the industry and the discounts offered by the companies. Moreover the impact of the downfall of apparels and footwear costs to about 14.4 per cent and the rise in cost of living to about 12.6 per cent could also be the probable reason (Research and Markets in its report: “Clothing & Footwear Industry Market Review”

Today in the fashion market in UK, each of the fashion brands is experiencing stiff competition because of the discounting trend reaching its peak. And such trends are forcing the fashion brand to adapt better and better strategies in building their brand image. Additionally the cheap imports are almost wiping out the UK manufacturing industry. Rationale for the Chosen Research Topic:

1.4 Definition and Importance of Brand and Fashion

Brand: One can understand the role played by the brand only by realizing the appropriate meaning and definition of brand and branding. Among the most available the most quoted definition for brand and branding is the one that is proposed by Kotler (1998). Kotler proposed a new definition from the one that was proposed earlier in 1960 by the American Association Committee on Definitions. According to Kotler, the definition of a brand is as follows:

"A brand is a name, terms or logo or design or a combination among them aiming at identifying a product or a service from one vendor or manufacturer and differentiate it from competitors".

1.4.1 What is Fashion?

Fashion: In simple terms fashion can be defined as the ‘synonym characteristic of social behaviour’. This is because fashion is generally a process that recognizes a design or a product depending on the present social behaviour; it is to say that one that stays for a limited period of time as accepted by the social behaviour; because the same is again replaced by a new and socially accepted new design or new product or even a newer form; all depending on the social behaviour. Interestingly in an essay on fashion George Simmels (19??) inscribes:

“… fashion is merely a product of social demands… This is clearly proved by the fact that very frequently not the slightest reason can be found for the creation of fashion from the standpoint of an objective, aesthetic or other expediency. While in general our wearing apparel is really adapted to our needs there is not a trace of expediency in the method by which fashion dictates…”.

1.5 The Importance of Brand Positioning:

Positioning a brand is to create a position to it i.e. to make it to identify itself such that on one hand it differentiates itself from its competitors and on other it matches with the desires of its target group (C. F. Trommsdorff, 2007; 2008).

The most recent example for the position of a brand is the global economic crisis. During the recession period all the companies were trying hard to differentiate themselves from their competitors and attract the customers towards them. Needless to say it can happen only when the consumer is carrying the brand name in their minds. To simplify it can be said that the key to survive even during the adverse situations like recessions or an economic storm; consumer orientation plays a vital role, it makes the consumer to think and re-think the logic of positioning (Nique 2007).

As such it becomes important for the companies to rely on positioning the brand in the minds of their target. It is evident from the above discussion that it becomes imperative for a firm to establish its brand image and identity. Figure 1 shows how firms express their brand values through advertising.

Figure 1: Firms Expressing their Brand and Brand Values

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1.6 Brand Image and Brand Identity

Jean-NBoel Kapferer, the author of “Strategic Brand Management” is of the opinion that ‘brand identity often precedes image’. He further argues that “an obsession with image often tends to attach more significance to its manifestation than the real inner truth. But, brand identity is richer, brand identity has supplementary substantial concept that can be embraced”. To understand the difference between brand identity and brand image, and how they differ from each other a detailed comparison of brand image and brand identity is presented in figure-2

Figure 2: Brand Image versus Brand Identity

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Jean-Noel Kapferer, Strategic Brand Management Identity

It is evident form figure-2 that on one hand both the concepts; brand identity and brand image are quite different from each other and on the other they are so simple to sum up and understand their essence. In simple terms brand image is how the market perceives it and brand identity is who you really are. From the above discussion it is evident that both brand identity and brand image play a vital role in brand positioning.

1.7 Problem Statement

From the above submission this study is of the view that there is a need to identify the important market drivers and how the fashion industry market is changing rapidly. The study is also of the view that the fragmented nature of the fashion market is playing a vital role in influencing the market trends. Under these circumstances it becomes crucial to identity how fashion brands can build brand image and develop brand identity to gain competitive advantage.

1.8 Research Questions

This research furthers to identity answers to the following questions:

1.9 Aims and Objectives

The following are the aims and objectives of the present study:

- Understand the growth strategies of successful fashion brands benchmarking their performance against key competitors.

- Explore the role played by brand image and brand identity in facilitating the fashion firms to gain competitive advantage.

- Formulate theoretical model to explain the relation between brand image, brand identity and competitive advantage.

1.10 Research Structure

The research is arranged in five chapters.

Chapter 1 makes a theoretical study of the research exploring the fashion industry in UK with relevant studies on brand mapping market forces and marketing strategies concerning brand development and gaining competitive advantage.

Chapter 2 reviews the literature and studies available on brand image, brand identity, competitive advantage and their relation to the fashion industry in UK.

Chapter 3 covers different areas of research methodology such as research design, procedure of data collection, method of sampling, data analysis method and reliability of data etc.

Chapter 4 presents the case study and deals with the findings coming out of the research and its further impact.

Chapter 5 draws conclusions and provides suggestions building a theoretical model relating brand identity and brand image in gaining competitive advantage.

Chapter 2: 2.0 Literature Review

Working in the context of ultra-famous brands like Dior and Vuitton, creative spirits are always going to feel reined in. It's important that they are free to develop ideas. And rather than detracting from the principal job, it reinforces it. I think of that money as venture capital. It's not a big investment.

- Bernard Arnault

2.1 Introduction

If there is anything that kept on changing with time than it is fashion. Time is evident that the mankind has been adapting fashion with the changing time. A year has only a few seasons but fashion has adapted multiple seasons from loin-clothes to coats and varied accessories - everything because of the fantasies carried by the humankind. It was during 1850s when a new profession called as ‘fashion-designer’ was evolved as a new way of life. Historical annals point at C. F. Worth, a Paris-based designer of British origin as the first ‘fashion-designer. Initially Paris remained as the hub for fashion followed by London and Milan.

Fashion is unstylish if it doesn’t change. From the old-age skin clothes to today’s fabrics there has been a galaxy of changes, catering to every need of the fantasies of humankind. Nowadays fashion-designers give great care for ‘choice’ and ‘cut’ of fabrics. However, the brand image literature in consumer marketing can be characterized and fragmented.

2.2 UK Fashion Industry

I am not looking like Armani today and somebody else tomorrow. I look like Ralph Lauren. And my goal is to constantly move in fashion and move in style without giving up what I am.

Ralph Lauren

In UK among the export performers fashion industry is considered as the strongest one. It has established itself with high international profile. The London fashion week held twice in a year during February and September is evident to it that projects the country’s hottest designers. The Department for Trade and Industry supports it as it efforts to introduce ever new talents. The annals of the history of fashion in UK state that it was during 1960s, the era of new fashion designers like Mary Quant and Jean Muir the fashion store Biba and not to forget is the ‘Miniskirt’- a skirt with a small hemline. Moreover its association with the British Pop ensured the fashion designs a permanent position globally.

During 1970s UKs fashion industry was marginalized favouring styles generated from the streets. And this is popularly known as the ‘punk moment’. During 1980s UK fashion had a major turning point which evolved thirst for designer wear mostly termed as ‘Romantic Moment’. During 1990s were the period when people all around the world started adapting ‘classic’ or ‘vintage’ looks and the same saw a surge in UK also. This trend gained popularity with the designs created by Russell Sage. This period also saw drastic changes in the fashion industries that created space for brand that started using designs created during and for fashion shows. And the name of the brand started playing a vital role for creation of ever new fashion trends.

2.3 Understanding the customer for Brand Image and Brand Identity

Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it's not going to get the business.

Warren Buffett

The traditional concept of a brand is related to a logo, a sign or a label. Interestingly de Chernatony and Dall’ Olma Riley (1997) argue that firms often failed to recognise that brand acquires connotation in consumers’’ minds through their experience.

Today, the youth are not at all lured by just expensive goods. They on the other hand are looking for value for their money. The present day youth are more and more attracted towards goods that exemplify self-identity and well-being. They feel that their values and tastes are displayed through branded goods. Some even feel that it serves to fulfil their emotional needs opines Cheng, (2006). During the earlier times ‘brands’ were those that were scarce and available only to a small segment of people (Shiviroj, 2007).

‘Youth are the representative of pleasure-seeking effect’, opines Sriviroj, (2007). Hamilton, (2004) argues that the elders generally look at brands as luxuries and prefer them only when they are confident that they have met all their basic needs. C. F. Ad Silva Anana and Nique, (2007) argue that the peoples wants and goals in life constructs their individual values. And these values influence their respective behaviour, which includes brand preference. Hence a cascade is established that starts with preferences for certain values. Based on the argument carried forward by C. F. Da Silva Anana and Nique a brief study of Values-Attitudes-Motives-Behaviour Cascade is presented.

2.4 Values-Attitudes-Motives-Behaviour Cascade

According to Schwartz, (2006) and C. F. Rokeach, (1973), values can be defined as “desirable, transitional goals, varying in importance, which serve as guiding principles in people’s lives”.

Da Silva Añaña and Nique, (2007) state that values represent the peoples aims in their lives. Values are highly relevant. Values help to predict people’s behaviour that includes brand preferences. To describe the various constructs of value a figure is presented as under:

Figure 3: The Values-Behaviour-Cascade

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Trommsdorff, (2008, p. 34.)

According to the figure-3, C. F Trommsdorff, (2008) opines that there are several constructs of consumer behaviour. And these include motives and attitudes that intervene in between the value and brand preference.

C. F Trommsdorff, (2008) argues that the purpose of Value-Cascade Positioning is to turn the focus of the brand towards the consumer; and to be precise rigorously. Trommsdorff further argues that the general positioning maps portray what are the customer’s presumptions regarding a particular brand. Whereas, the Value-Cascade Positioning straight away illustrates what exactly are the customers want in relation to their preferences. This model also portrays the comparison aspect of the consumer’s preferences in relation to the competitor’s brand.

But Shcheglova, (2009), argue that the as the means (brand preference of consumers) and the ends (their values) match with each other, as such it is the Value-Behaviour Cascade provides a theoretical framework for the VCP: Value-Cascade Positioning. This is evident from figure-4 that demonstrates the position of a brand that offers a glimpse through the layers of the values-behaviour cascade back to the values as the highest-order construct.

Figure 4: Employing the Value-Behaviour-Cascade for Brand Positioning

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: According to Trommsdorff 2008, p. 34.

Values and brand preferences can be considered by the simplest version f the Value-Cascade Positioning as shown in the figure-3. It is evident from figure-4 and fact that each of any brand is an representative of its own value and each of such value attract consumers with similar value and however also avert consumers with conflicting values opines Mazanec (2001). However C. F. Elrod, (1988) states that in contrast to the ‘perceptual maps’ is of the opinion that the positioning maps that are inferred by brand choice as ‘choice maps’, whereas the model depicting Value-cascade positioning tends to lead to preference maps.

But because of the intervention of certain contrasts such as the attitudes and motives they tend to leave an impact on the relationship between the values and brand preference. This is the probable reason as to why a particular value preference doesn’t always lead to similar brand preferences. This stands the same from other end also, i.e. as to why brand preference of any particular brand doesn’t always lead to the same values.

It is evident from the above discussion that attitude and motives cannot be the only constructs between brand preference and values; further constructs need to be integrated. This becomes important because this may lead to multi-layer positioning maps that may present a better perspective; but this needs in-depth analysis. As the aim of the present research is to establish the relationship between the brand image and brand identity for attaining competitive advantage for fashion brands; only a brief study on the correlation between the brand preference and consumers value has been undertaken.

A study of value-behaviour cascade was done to understand the relationship between the brand preference and consumers behaviour in preferring a particular brand. In continuation of the above and to understand the relationship between the brand image and brand identity for attaining competitive advantage for fashion brands a further study of ‘brand-positioning’ is undertaken (as discussed below). This becomes imperative because the sum of the attributes ascribed by a consumer to a particular brand depends on the position of the brand.

2.5 Brand Positioning

The position of a product is the sum of those attributes normally ascribed to it by the consumers – its standing, its quality, the type of people who use it, its strengths, its weaknesses, any other unusual or memorable characteristics it may possess, its price and the value it represents.

T. Harrison

(A Handbook of Advertising Techniques)

‘Segmentation’ and ‘Targeting’ are some of the elements of marketing strategies. These attribute to establish the concept of brand positioning, which again is also a strategy adapted by marketers to reach the targeted consumers. The relationship between these three elements to better understand how they work together closely to determine the ways of introducing a product or a service into the market and for whom the product/service is offered is very well explained by Deb al at. (200?). Deb and others have presented this through a model in their book ‘Marketing Concepts and Strategies’. The model is presented in figure-5.

Figure 5: Corporate and Marketing Objectives

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Adapted from Dibb et al Marketing – Concepts and Strategies

It is evident from the above figure-5 that once a firm has decided as to whom their product is targeted and where that product is to be launched to reach that particular target it become imperative for that firm to determine how to present their product to that particular target through that particular market. This strategy facilitates the firm to reach and address the anticipated expectations of their targeted consumers. And not to forget the presentation is based on product characteristics, its price, the promotional activities undertaken and the locations at which the product is presented; this is for the target consumer that is always positioned in a market mix. With this strategy the elements of positioning the product in line with consumers’ perception along with other elements of the marketing plan, can establish their correlation with each other. This becomes imperative based on the definition provided by Dibb et al., (200?) for brand positioning that states: “Position of a brand is to create an image for the product in the minds of the targeted customers”. Dibb and others are also of the opinion that the offer provided by the brand must have certain characteristics that differentiates it from other competitive brands and succeeds in grabbing the attention of the targeted customer.


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Contribution of Brand Image and Brand Identity to Gain Competitive Advantage: A Case study of UK Fashion Brands
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