Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 14, Issue 1–2, pp 20–39 | Cite as

Communicating brand personality: Are the websites doing the talking for the top South African Business Schools?

  • Robert Opoku
  • Russell AbrattEmail author
  • Leyland Pitt


This study extends the conceptualisation and measurement of brand personality to the online environment. We contend that websites are an important element of corporate identity management in today's competitive environment. We investigated the websites of South African Business Schools in order to find out what brand personality each school features. Our multistage methodology revealed a measure of business school brand personality that to some extent portrays the dimensions Aaker postulated. This study illustrates a powerful, but simple and relatively inexpensive way business school managers can study communicated brand personality. The results also offer new ways for business schools (and other organisations) to strengthen their brand and market position in a competitive environment. It also is a relatively simple way to differentiate their school in the crowded MBA education marketplace.


brand brand personality content analysis MBA programme South Africa 


  1. Berthon, P., Hulbert, J. M. and Pitt, L. (1999) ‘Brand management prognostications’, Sloan Management Review, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 53–65.Google Scholar
  2. Bickerstaffe, G. (2005) ‘Which MBA? A critical guide to the world's best MBA's’,17th edn, Pearson Education, London.Google Scholar
  3. Nicholls, J., John, Harris, J., Morgan, E., Clarke, K. and Sims, D. (1995) ‘Marketing higher education: the MBA experience’, International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 31–38.Google Scholar
  4. Friga, P. N., Bettis, R. A. and Sullivan, R. S. (2003) ‘Changes in graduate management education and new business school strategies for the 21st century’, Academy of Management Learning and Education, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 233–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Byrne, J. A. (1997) ‘Business week guide to the best business schools’,5th edn, McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Neelankavil, J. P. (1994) ‘Corporate America's quest for an ideal MBA’, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 38–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Yucelt, U. (1998) ‘Comparative study of students’ perception on quality of MBA programs’, Journal of International Marketing and Marketing Research, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 27–33.Google Scholar
  8. Bennis, W. G. and O’Toole, J. (2004) ‘How business schools lost their way’, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 83, No. 5, pp. 96–104.Google Scholar
  9. Pfeffer, J. and Fong, C. T. (2002) ‘The ends of business school? less success than meets the eye’, Academy of Management Learning and Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 78–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pfeffer, J. and Fong, C. T. (2004) ‘The business school ‘business’ some lessons from the US experience’, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 41, No. 8, pp. 1501–1520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Starkey, K., Hatchuel, A. and Tempest, S. (2004) ‘Rethinking the business school’, Journal of Management Studies 41, No. 8, pp. 1521–1531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Segev, E., Raveh, A. and Farjoun, M. (1999) ‘Conceptual maps of the leading MBA programs in the United States: Core courses, concentration areas, and the ranking of the school’, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 20, pp. 549–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Siguaw, J. A., Anna, M. and Austin, J. R. (1999) ‘The brand personality scale: An application for restaurants’, Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administrative Quarterly, Vol. 40, pp. 48–55.Google Scholar
  14. Aaker, J. L. (2000) ‘Accessibility or diagnosticity? Disentangling the influences of culture on persuasion processes and attitudes’, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 26, pp. 340–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Aaker, J. L., Benet-Martinez, V. and Garolera, J. (2001) ‘Consumption symbols as carriers of culture: a study of Japanese and Spanish brand personality constructs’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 81, No. 3, pp. 492–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. America, R. (2003) ‘Advancing Africa’, BizEd, May/June, pp. 28–33 Also available at, accessed on December 6, 2005, 16: 40.
  17. Kagan, J. (2003) ‘MBA South Africa: A strategic Guide to Selecting your MBA programme and school’, Zebra Press, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  18. Hofmeyr, B. K. (1990) ‘Management education for the nineties’, South African Journal of Business Management, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 102–111.Google Scholar
  19. Singh, M., Lange, L. and Naidoo, P. (2004) ‘Evaluating the MBA in South Africa’, Quality in Higher Education 10, No. 3, pp. 97–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Louw, L., Bosch, J. K. and Venter, D. J. L. (2001a) ‘Graduate's perceptions of the quality of MBA programmes’, Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 40–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Louw, L., Bosch, J. K. and Venter, D. J. K. (2001b) ‘Quality perceptions of MBA courses and required management competencies’, Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 72–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Blackmur, D. (2004) ‘An evaluation of the South African Model of MBA accreditation’, Quality in Higher Education, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 87–102.Google Scholar
  23. Aaker, J. L. (1997) ‘Dimensions of brand personality’, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 347–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Freling, T. H. and Forbes, L. P. (2005) ‘An examination of brand personality through methodological triangulation’, The Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 148–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Krishnamurthy, S. and Singh, N. (2005) ‘The international e-marketing framework (IEMF): Identifying the building blocks for future global e-marketing research’, International Marketing Review, Vol. 22, No. 6, pp. 605–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sheth, J. N. and Sharma, A. (2005) ‘International e-marketing: Opportunities and issues’, International Marketing Review, Vol. 22, No. 6, pp. 611–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Balmer, J. M. T. (1995) ‘Corporate branding and connoisseurship’, Journal of General Management, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 24–46.Google Scholar
  28. Van Riel, C. B. M. and Balmer, J. M. T. (1997) ‘Corporate identity: the concept, its measurement and management’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 31, No. 5/6, pp. 340–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Abratt, R. (1989) ‘A new approach to the corporate image management process’, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Balmer, J. M. T. and Soenen, G. B. (1997) ‘Operationalising the concept of corporate identity: Articulating the corporate identity mix and the corporate identity mix working paper, University of Strathclyde International Centre for Corporate Identity Studies, Glasgow.Google Scholar
  31. Kiriakidou, O. and Millward, L. J. (2000) ‘Corporate identity: External reality or internal fit?’ Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 49–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Balmer, J. M. T. (2001) ‘Corporate identity, corporate branding and corporate marketing: seeing through the fog’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 35, No. 3/4, pp. 248–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Alessandri, S. W. (2001) ‘Modelling corporate identity: A concept explication and theoretical explanation’, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 173–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Leuthesser, L. and Kohli, C. (1997) ‘Corporate identity: the role of mission statements’, Business Horizons, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hogan, R. (1991) ‘Personality and personality measurement’,in Dunnette, M. D. and Hough, L. M. (eds.) Handbook of Industrial Psychology. Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA.Google Scholar
  36. Fournier, S. (1998) ‘Consumer and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research’, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 343–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Aaker, J. L. (1999) ‘The malleable self: The role of self-expression in persuasion’, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 36, pp. 45–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ferrandi, J. M., Valette-Florence, P. and Fine-Falcy, S. (2000) ‘Aaker's brand personality scale in a French context: a replication and preliminary test of its validity’, Developments in Marketing Science, Vol. 23, pp. 7–13.Google Scholar
  39. Davies, G., Chun, R., da Silva, R. V. and Roper, S. (2001) ‘The personification metaphor as a measurement approach for corporate reputation’, Corporate Reputation Review, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 113–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hultman, M. and Opoku, R. A. (2005) ‘Communication of brand personalities through African tourism websites’,Abstracts of the 5th American Marketing Association/Academy of Marketing Joint Biennial Conference at Dublin Institute of Technology from 5–7 July, pp. 28.Google Scholar
  41. Opoku, R. A. (2005) ‘Communication of brand personality by some top business school online’,Thesis for the degree of Licentiate of philosophy, Department of Business Administration and Social Science Luleã University of Technology, Luleã, Sweden.Google Scholar
  42. Austin, J. R., Siguaw, J. A. and Mattila, A. S. (2003) ‘A re-examination of the generalization of the Aaker's brand personality measurement framework’, Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 11, pp. 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McMillan, S. J. (2000) ‘The microscope and the moving target: the challenge of applying content analysis to the World Wide Web’, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 80–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Okazaki, S. and Rivas, J. A. (2002) ‘A Content analysis of multinationals’ web communication strategies: cross cultural research framework and pre-testing’, Internet Research: Electronic Net-working Applications and Policy, Vol. 12, No. 5, pp. 380–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ha, L. and Lincoln, J. E. (1998) ‘Interactivity re-examined: A baseline analysis of early business web sites’, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 457–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jo, S. and Jung, J. (2005) ‘A cross-cultural study of the World Wide Web and Public Relations’, Corporate Communication: An international Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 24–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Neuman, W. L. (2003) ‘Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches 5th edn, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  48. Weber, R. P. (1988) ‘Basic Content Analysis’, Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Series 07-049, Sage, Beverley Hills, CA.Google Scholar
  49. Ghose, S. and Wenju, Dou (1998) ‘Interactive functions and their impact on the appeal of Internet presence sites’, Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 29–43.Google Scholar
  50. Peladeau, N. (2003) WordStat: Content Analysis Module for SIMSTAT. Provalis Research, Montreal.Google Scholar
  51. Stone, P. J. (1997) ‘Thematic text analysis: New agendas for analyzing text content’,in C.W. Roberts (ed.) Text Analysis for the Social Sciences: Methods for drawing inferences from texts and transcripts. Publisher: Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 35–54.Google Scholar
  52. Gottschalk, L. A. (1997) ‘The unobtrusive measurement of psychological states and traits’,in Roberts C. W. (ed.) Text Analysis for the Social Sciences: Methods for drawing inferences from texts and transcripts. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 7–130.Google Scholar
  53. Roberts, C. W., (ed.) (1997) ‘A theoretical map for selecting among text analysis’, Text Analysis for the Social Sciences: Methods for drawing inferences from texts and transcripts. Erlbaum, Mahwah NJ, pp. 275–383.Google Scholar
  54. Krippendorf, K. (2004) ‘Content Analysis: An introduction to its Methodology’,2nd edn, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.Google Scholar
  55. Bendixen, M. T. (1995) ‘Composing perceptual mapping using chi-squared trees analysis and correspondence analysis’, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 11, No. 6, pp. 571–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Greenacre, M. J. (1984) ‘Theory and Applications of Correspondence Analysis’, Academic Press, London, UK.Google Scholar
  57. Lebart, L., Salem, A. and Berry, L. (1998) ‘Multivariate Descriptive Statistical Analysis: Correspondence Analysis and Related Techniques for large matrices’, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  58. Hoffman, D. L. and Franke, G. R. (1986) ‘Correspondence analysis: Graphical representation of categorical data in marketing research’, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 213–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Hair, J. F, Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L. and Black, W. C. (1998) ‘Multivariate Data Analysis’,(Int. edn), 3rd edn, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.Google Scholar
  60. Inman, J. J., Venkatesh, S. and Ferraro, R. (2004) ‘The roles of channel-category associations and geodemographics in channel patronage’, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 51–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. O'Brien, T. W. (1993) ‘Correspondence analysis’, Marketing research, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 54–56.Google Scholar
  62. Chun, R. and Davies, G. (2001) ‘E-reputation: The role of mission and vision statements in positioning strategy’, The Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 8, No. 4–5, pp. 315–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Berthon, P., Pitt, L., Berthon, J. P., Crowther, C., Bruwer, L., Lyall, P. and Money, A. (1997) ‘Mapping the marketspace: evaluating industry Web sites using correspondence analysis’, Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 233–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Van Gelder, S. (2005) ‘The new imperatives for global branding: Strategy, creativity and leadership’, The Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 12, No. 5, pp. 395–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nova Southeastern UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations