Marketing, Branding & Customer-Brand Relationship

Inspected Brands

  • Cell phone service- ‘Nokia’
  • Movie studio- ‘Disney’

Key Question

Demonstrating that is there relationship between customers and brand according to Susan Fournier’s argument.

Brand and Customer Relationship

Branding, now days, is considered as a significant subject in the global business. Brand performs as the prerequisite factor for an organization creditability and reputation. It comprises company personality, image, core competencies and characteristics. Therefore, it does not refer only to the logo or tagline or glossy brochure. Actually, it means with the combination of multiple components including marketing strategy, customer interaction, employee communication, corporate philosophy. Brand value depends upon the consistency of those components throughout the organization. On the other hand customers are the main accelerating part of business that is generated through marketing as well as product promotion. This trend moves the paying attention of customers on product acceptance. The contexts of Brand and customer relationship of sample brand according to instruction that are examined are given following:

In Context of Nokia

Nokia puts concentration into better customer services. Penetrateting customer care service, it broadens brand popularity. For improving customer relation Nokia patronizes strategic marketing through internet protocol, integrated mobility application and connects people to each other with easy-to-use and innovative products. “In today’s market, it is now essential for service providers to offer their customers a highly personalized and prompt communication experience,” said Sue Spradley, Head of North America for Nokia Siemens Networks.”(Richard)

In context of Disney

Disney accelerates strongly its customer relationship management. Disney evolves relationship very friendly with the customer. “Disney replaced its ineffective CRM program with a strategy of building on existing customer touchpoints to capture individual insights.” (Kim). Consequently, this brand is accepted vastly to the customers. The kids and the young are the actual customers of Disney. Disney attracts people innovative product mainly based on online marketing strategy. Disney has developed new customer relationship management named as Customer Relationship Magic (CRM).

“The idea is to fulfill our vision statement, which is about “creating cherished friends in the relationships we build with our guests.” Disney obviously is a great product and a great brand with an incredible cast, as we call our employees… The goal of CRM was actually reduced down to a fairly elegant statement of “know me and be relevant.” So, we went about the process of trying to figure out exactly what it meant to know the guest.” (HUB)

Introspection on the Arguments of the Key Question

Susan Fournier is assistant professor of business administration of Harvard University, stated in his book ‘Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research’ (1998) that customers have relationship with brand. He argues the following:

  • the validity of the relationship proposition in the consumer-brand context;
  • a framework for characterizing and better understanding the types of relationships consumers form with brands;
  • inducts from the data the concept of brand relationship quality, a diagnostic tool for conceptualizing and evaluating relationship strength (Fournier)

Customers are not willingly participants in such relation. According to Bendapudi & Berry (1997), two types of relationship as “dedication-based” and “constraint-based”. Dedication-based relationship relates beneficial satisfaction of customers from the company. Besides, constraint-based relationship relates low beneficial or lacking of company or vice and versa. According to them there are some factors as striving for independence, freedom of choice, Variety-seeking behavior, need for privacy that act as the constraint of relationship. The following figure shows the context of customer relationship with brand.

A typology of relationships between customers and business firms

On the other hand according to Thurau, Gwinner & Gremler, “Particularly in the case of consumer goods, the implications of the brand for customers’ identity-related issues should be considered.”.

Analyzing the brand Nokia and Disney, it can be stated that those brand maintains vast and mass level of marketing strategy that implies the consumer attention. “Brands are part of our social existence. Relationships with brands are obviously not the same as relationships with people but the metaphor is useful. The brands we use reinforce our self-image and how others see us… We are social beings and brands are part of that” (Ambler)

Promotion strategy for brand acceptability is important for customer relationship. “The four major methods involved with product promotion are advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and personal selling.” (Oppapers). But alike those inspected brand, all of the organizaiton or firm are not capable to make the expected brand management that are not well understandable to the customers. However, nevertheless, various brands try to do that. “Despite a mature discipline of brand management, there remains a poor understanding of the financial implications of brand actions (Herremans and Ryans 1995).”

“consumers’ relationships with the sincere brand relationship exhibited no signs of recovery despite apologies and attempts to make amends.” (Association for Consumer Research) Fournier evolved the typology that includes marriages, best friends kinships, marriages of convenience, rebound or avoidance driven relationships, enslavement, courtships and flings. But these conditions are not applicable into the long-term relationship.

Because the beneficial demands of customers as confidence, social and economical that don’t imply always to all firm or long term basis of relationship. “Gronroos’s (1990) definition suggests that relationships should not necessarily be long-term, although most probably are. Further, relationships may vary in form, intensity, length and desirability as the above discussion suggests.” (Sweeney). After analyzing Blois (1996) and Barnes (1997) said about the limitation of long term relationship, However, it is clear that relationships are not always desired by customers (Blois 1996; Barnes 1997; (Sweeney).

In the light of the discussion in can be stated that though the typology of Dr. Fournier is acceptable in case of some context, but he is wrong with his opinion in some cases. In sum, this research offers a theoretical model for understanding why some consumers who apparently digress from the utilitarian price-based model of consumer behavior may not necessarily be behaving “irrationally” (Association for Consumer Research). So it is quite clear that relationship between consumer and brand might vary in the point of form, intensity, length and desirability.


Grigonis, Richard. Nokia Siemens Networks’ Subscriber Data Management Solution is selected for Sprint’s Xohm WiMAX Services”. IP Communications Group Technology Marketing Corp. Web.

Kim, Peter. “Case Study: Customer-Centric Technology Helps Disney Personalize Relationships” , 2008. Web.

THE HUB. Disney Magic, 2006.

Fournier, Susan. “Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research” JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc., 1998. Web.

THURAU, THORSTEN HENNIG. GWINNER, KEVIN P. GREMLER,DWAYNE D. Relationship Marketing, Springer-Verlag Berlin Herdelberg, New york. Web.

Ambler, Tim. London Business School, Inaugural Brands Lecture, 2000. Web. Personal Selling. Web.

Association for Consumer Research. “When Good Brands Do Bad”, 2004. Web.

Sweeney. Jillian C., Inter-Relationships Between Relationship Marketing, Branding, And Services: Implications. Web.

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