‘The Conception of Branding in Not-for-Profit SMEs’
8th CIRCLE Conference
Building on her previously published work (2004, 2006, 2007), Sun’s new research reported in this paper contributes to an understanding of the apparent resistance to branding among small not-for-profit (NfP) organisations. The originality of Sun’s approach is to apply existing models drawn from the literature of branding, which until now has focused on multinationals, to her case study. She asks how this modifies our understanding of branding more generally.
The research addresses the issue that, while large NfPs have embraced branding in similar ways to for-profit companies, small and medium NfPs have not. Sun's survey as part of this research clarifies several issues of attitude and practice. There may be reluctance among NfPs to embrace ‘alien’ commercial behaviours, although it can be argued that branding is actually a good fit to the rationale of NfPs by contrast with perhaps superficial marketing stances in the commercial world. Sun shows that small and medium NfPs tend to mirror the poor use of branding among SMEs generally.
An online questionnaire was targeted at 130 NfP SMEs, using 33 questions on attitudinal and practical issues, with Likert scale responses. The results showed that, although the general attitude towards the value of branding is positive, even among these the nature of marketing is poorly understood. Perceptions of impediments to brand development revealed little consensus, though size was a significant determinant. Respondent misunderstandings included a heavy emphasis on visual identity and image advertising; brand as the product of the marketer; brand maintenance focusing on appearance and style; and belief in reliance on a large marketing budget.
Further aspects of branding are represented by Sun et al. on Indian consumer psychology in new product strategy and O'Brien, Sun et al. 2009 on managing brands in China, both in ‘D2B2 Tsinghua International Design Management Symposium 2009’, Beijing, China.