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Brands are one of the most important of a firm's assets. Brand-managing activities are typically related to brand positioning and integration with marketing campaigns, and can involve complex decisions. The branding of an organization is indeed a dynamic system with many cause-effect relationships as well as intangible and heterogeneous variables. In order to help brand managers and marketers, we propose a decision support system, named Identimod, for modeling and evaluating branding strategies. Identimod uses non-linear dynamic modeling and soft computing to identify the branding system from different data sources through a linguistic user interface, and to provide advanced methods for diagnostics and validation. Identimod steps through a participatory, cyclic, and iterative process consisting of four different modules to increase the confidence and validity of the model, which should facilitate its acceptance by managers and stakeholders. Throughout this paper we demonstrate the modeling process and managerial benefits of Identimod by forming and answering the marketing questions for a real rebranding case of a seafood company in Spain.
6. Final discussion and future work
In this paper we have proposed Identimod, a new methodology and DSS to model branding problems. Identimod is based on soft computing and Vester’s sensitivity model (VSM) which are appropriate techniques to deal with the intangible variables, uncertainty, linguistic terms, and the complexity that can be found in this type of managerial problem. This paper does not just present the DSS but provides the complete modeling process for branding, divided into four different modules. These modules range from the initial identification of the intangible fuzzy variables to the utilization of the final validated model by marketers and decision makers. We highlighted the importance of involving stakeholders in the brand modeling for its acceptance, and Identimod is therefore designed to support the stakeholders’ discussion and the model agreement in a participatory modeling process through the stages of the four modules. These modules follow an iterative and cyclic process needed to create, diagnose, validate, and simulate branding applications. The DSS incorporates the linguistic definition of variables and effects, along with visual graphs and straightforward simulation tools. In addition, Identimod provides the modeler with specific tools for studying the structure of the model and validating it by means of automatic methods. These methods also represent novel applications of advanced computational techniques; for instance, genetic algorithms (GAs) for automatic calibration of VSM, and social network analysis metrics for key variable detection.