The five phases of SME brand building

Edgar Centeno, Susan Hart, Keith Dinnie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this article is to examine how brands are built in small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to develop a conceptual model of SME brand-building. The research design is based on an a priori conceptual framework that helped direct the fieldwork, data analysis and findings. A series of semi-structured interviews was conducted among 35 owner/managers from 30 firms. The results indicate that SME brands are built in a non-traditional manner and contrary to large firm brand building, with minimum brand planning and limited resources. SME brand-owner/managers and employees engage in brand exploration phases where they experiment in a spirit of trial and error based on risk-taking, commitment, creativity and willingness to learn. Based on these results, the article develops a model of the five phases of SME brand-building. The five-phase model represents an actionable framework for managers in an SME context. The model also presents scholars with a theoretical foundation upon which to construct further theory development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-457
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Brand Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • SME's
  • small to medium enterprises
  • brand building

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