Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Perceptions of Branding among Television Station Managers: An Exploratory Analysis

Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Perceptions of Branding among Television Station Managers: An Exploratory Analysis

Article excerpt

The tremendous proliferation of media outlets and the continuous fragmentation of audiences during the last two decades have changed the landscape of today's media market. Increased competition is facilitating the application of brand management in many media industries as media firms race to establish clear and memorable brand images in an increasingly complicated marketplace filled with infinite content offered by broadcasters, cablecasters, Internet, telcos, and DBS. In a nutshell, brands can help media consumers cut through the clutter by identifying the brands that are compatible with their needs and expectations. Developing a sound branding strategy (i.e., business activities that establish a recognizable and trustworthy badge of origin, and a promise of performance) is an essential step for a broadcaster to increase its value for consumers and advertiser's. In short, to succeed in a noisy media marketplace, today's broadcasters need to establish a consistent brand image using multiple platforms. Furthermore, broadcasters have to increase the efficiency of their marketing plans given the rising cost of marketing expenses.

The purpose of branding is to create high brand familiarity and positive brand image, which contribute to the building of brand equity. Marketing researchers have long advocated that managers need to start managing their brands more like assets--increasing their value over time (Keller, 1993). Management has to invest in understanding its brand today to make better brand decisions tomorrow. Such a notion holds true for the media industries as well. As the theory of "brand lifecycle" suggests, a brand, if well managed and perceived, may enter a stage of fortification with the objective of leveraging a brand's value by extending the brand to other related product categories (Liebermann, 1986). Successful brand extensions require marketing strategies that reasonably establish a connection between the new and the old product and transfer the perceived benefit from the old to the new in a meaningful continuation of brand identity. Note that established brands are most valuable in those extensions where the perceptions of brand identity are relevant to the potential consumer of the new product.

For a broadcaster to expand its business into niche paid programming services, it needs to first assess whether its current brand has acquired the value to fortify and benefit the new business line. The age of convergence is approaching. Broadcast television stations will have to compete with an ever larger number of content providers. By the same token, more broadcast services such as Intercast (a means of transmitting HTML pages over broadcast television signals), data broadcasting, multiple program feeds, and electronic commerce will soon be available for broadcasters to generate additional revenues. A strong brand equity opens the door of opportunities for service expansions.

This study attempted to assess the perceived role of branding and branding practices among the general managers of commercial television stations. General managers were chosen because of their role in directly shaping a television station's business strategies and because of their increasing involvement in determining a station's programming environment. We also focused on commercial stations because of their need to establish competitive advantages in the marketplace. Specifically, we addressed the following research questions:

1. What are general managers' perceptions and understanding of branding?

2. What are general managers' perceptions regarding the functions of branding in different organizational units (e.g., programming, news, sales, etc.)?

3. What branding activities are perceived to be practiced at commercial television stations?

4. Are the education and industry experience of general managers related to their perceptions of branding?

5. Are the market characteristics of a station such as market size and performance related to its general manager's perceptions of branding? …

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