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Exploring the Brand-Building Strategy for Port Companies

Essay by   •  February 8, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  3,135 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,658 Views

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Abstract

Propose: Brand-building for port companies are becoming important resulting from the increasing port competition and customer demand. The paper aims to demonstrate the importance of port brand-building as well as explore the elements for successful brand-building for port companies. Approach: Literature review of port marketing and services brand-building is presented to examine the importance of port brand-building and to explore the brand-building strategy for port companies. Findings: Port Brand-building is port marketing, but beyond port marketing, which requires the participation of the entire port company, its employees and its customers. Five key elements for port brand-building are brand name and structure building, community establishment, internalizing the brand, optimum customer participation and brand-building evaluation. Practical implication: Academics as well as Port Managers will find useful conclusions in this paper. Originality: The paper is one of the first practical-based studies to explore the brand-building strategy for port companies.

Key words: Port brand-building; Service brands; Customer satisfaction and loyalty; Internal Marketing; Customer participation; Evaluation;

1 Introduction

Market globalization increases demand and competition between firms. Ports as basic figurative nodes cannot remain separate from this change. Customer satisfaction and loyalty are becoming more important for port management resulting from the increasing port competition.

Building a strong brand is the goal of port companies, as it provides a host of possible benefits, including greater customer loyalty and less vulnerability to competitive port choice decisions and shipping market crises, larger margins as well as more favorable customer response to price increases and decreases, greater business or intermediary cooperation and support, increased marketing communication effectiveness, and licensing and brand-extension opportunities.

With the aim in exploring port brand-building strategy, three questions arise: (1) why do we need port brand-building? (2) what makes a port brand strong? and (3) how do we build a strong port brand?

To answer the first question, the importance of port brand-building is examined. Though there are papers argued the port marketing theory, framework and strategy, little has been published about port brand-building. However, with the increasing market competition and customers demand, marketing is not enough for port management to secure the customer loyalty. Port brand-building is an approach, as it's a way of port marketing, but beyond port marking.

By answering the other two questions, the port brand-building strategy is presented. The key factors for port management in building a strong brand are ensuring that the whole company and its employees participates in the brand-building actively, and customers have the right type of experiences with services and their accompanying marketing programs so that the desired thoughts, feelings, images, beliefs, perceptions, opinions, and so on become linked to the brand.

2 The importance of port brand-building

2.1 Literature review of port marketing

The literatures of port marketing presented the port marking concept as well as the framework and strategy. Mester (1991) underlines the fact that a price orientated strategy is not a sustainable competitive position, and notes the need for better understanding of customer needs. Cahoon (2004) had distinguished four main elements in port marketing, namely promotion, community liaison, trade and business development and customer relationship management. Cahoon (2007) also highlights the importance of effective communications within the complex port environment.

Finally, Pardali and Kounoupas (2007) proposed a conceptual framework that examined the container port marketplace from a marketing perspective and distinguished three different levels of marketing strategy application in the port market, namely the governance, the port authority and the port terminal operator Level. Cahoon and Notteboom (2008) also presented a port marking framework aimed at enhancing customer loyalty and measuring customer satisfaction, and argued a pricing strategy tailored to the individual needs of the customer is a key factor to develop relationships and loyalty. Pantouvakis (2010) examined profit and revenue maximization strategies in the port industry.

To conclude, we can argue that the current port marketing research focuses on price strategy and customer relationship. However, customer relationship management and price strategy are not enough for customer satisfaction and loyalty. Ports face the constant risk of losing important clients, not because of deficiencies in port infrastructure, terminal operations or uncompetitive price, but simply because the clients no longer feel valued by the port (Cahoon and Notteboom 2008).

Port brand-building focuses on the optimum participation of port companies and their employees, as well as the customers, from which the employees pride in and passionate with their brands and services and deliver them to the customers, and from which the customers involve actively in the delivery process.

2.2 Port brand-building, beyond port marketing

As a matter of speaking, port brand-building is a kind of port marketing, as the marketing concept and strategies go through all the brand-building process. However, brand-building is much more than marketing.

In the past, marketing was created and carried out by the marketing department who burnished the products or services the company produced and made them appealing to customers. But marketers are increasingly turning away from traditional advertising and focusing on direct communications with customers (Egol et al 2009). More broadly, many enlightened organizations are moving branding entirely away from communications and toward connecting strategy, culture, and a wider stakeholder involvement. They recognized that brand is not created by the marketing department, but instead by the larger organization in its interactions with customers and other stakeholders who have become part of its community (Ind and Schultz 2010).

The another approach moves brand building beyond marketing is engendering trust, which we believe is the very essence of brands- in the sense that customers should be able to trust the promise that a brand name makes - in reality trust has often been missing. Success is more likely when everyone internally believes in the brand's values (Chernatony and Segal-Horn 2001).

Ind and Schultz (2010) also suggested that brand executives, instead

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