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Open questions
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We asked some of the academics who’ve helped create this course: what, for you, are the big questions that still need research? What do we still need to discover, in order to understand the secret power of brands? Here are seven of their answers.

Are brands becoming less potent?

Based on the work we have been doing (and have now confirmed with BrandAsset Valuator and Brand Keys data) the biggest issue for brands has to be the declining preference for any of them. All products are becoming commoditized due to the easy access to information by consumers. Thus, what or how can brands become important to customers and more than just the few who follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Don Schultz, Northwestern University, USA

How do brands help people co-create value?

It’s now well established that, particularly in service businesses, value is co-created by the company and its consumers. But what exactly is the role of brand in this?

Jasmin Baumann, University of East Anglia, UK

How should brands evolve over time?

The question in my mind revolves around branding and path dependency. In short, are brands, and the value commitments or promises with which they are associated, path dependent? If not, how might brands be managed to be simultaneously consistent with their heritage (true to the value commitments) and yet responsive to contemporary challenges, opportunities and demands?

Ben Golant, Newcastle University, UK

Do big companies harm the brands they buy?

When many small brands become successful (Body Shop, Innocent, Ben & Jerry’s) they are often bought by larger brands. Does this matter?

Peter Schmidt-Hansen, University of East Anglia, UK

How do 21st century brands work?

The traditional brand textbooks all live in a 1990s paradigm. Branding works differently now, in a time of co-creation, customer autonomy, brand experiences, brand communities, social media and CSR. We urgently need a theoretical underpinning to understand how brands behave now.

Tilde Heding, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

How do companies manage their branding knowledge?

We need to understand better what “branding capabilities” are all about and how “branding knowledge” within the organisation is nurtured and constantly replenished i.e. the sort of dynamic capabilities required for doing so and of course within different sectors of activity.

Nikos Tzokas, Plymouth University, UK

How can brands create social value?

We understand pretty well how brands create commercial value, through their short-term and long-term impacts. But can they, and should they, also aim to create social value? If so, how? How do the two kinds of value interact? And how would a holistic way of measuring brands – covering both commercial and social impact – work?

Robert Jones, University of East Anglia, UK

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The Secret Power of Brands

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