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RESEARCH PAPER

AUTHOR(S): HJERTVIKREM, YVIND DATE: MAY 18, 2012 STUDY PROGRAMME: B.S.
SUPERVISOR(S):

SUBJECT CODE:

SUBJECT NAME: REPUTATION MANAGEMENT


NO OF PAGES/APPENDIX:

BIBL. NO:

23/0

TITLE: MICROSOFTS BRAND REPUTATION RELATED TO EMPIRICAL LITERATURE OF THE CORPORATE IDENTITY, CORPORATE IMAGE AND CORPORATE REPUTATION

ABSTRACT:

This project is handed in for evaluation and accreditation at Aalesund University College.
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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Abstract
Microsoft is known as global brand especially with respect to innovation operating systems. Current study highlight the strategies adopted by Microsoft and the brands corporate identity, reputation and image in todays competitive scenario. Consumers always desire better and more effective products, services and technologies. Innovation grants this desire. In an extremely competitive industry like that of the technology industry, continuous research and innovation is not just a boon, it is mandatory. Microsoft encourages employees to communicate directly with senior officials to share their views, suggestions and probably even complaints. Senior employees keep their doors open to facilitate such communication. Even with such a casual atmosphere, the work ethic in this organization is concrete and well defined. Microsoft has proved itself in the technology innovation area over the past few decades by competing successfully in the industry and enabling people, processes and organizations to work, communicate and run better. Keywords: Corporate identity, corporate reputation, corporate image, technology industry, technology innovation, corporate branding.

Introduction
Microsoft Corporation is a global brand name unparalleled in the technology industry. It single handily dominates the home and office computer system market making it a software giant. Microsoft leads the IT industry because of multiple reasons; the user friendly nature of their operating systems, the quality of their products, the importance they give to customer service and feedback and the huge funds invested for research and development in order to ensure that they live up to their motto Be whats next. Providing these amazing solutions obviously comes at a cost and also involves the purchase of expensive licenses. These costs and the growing demand for web based applications have challenged Microsofts position in the IT marketplace. Microsoft is working towards addressing these issues by researching and developing improved software that meet the continuously growing needs of the customer and also making them cost effective by reducing licenses etc. 1

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Competition has significantly increased in all areas, be in operating systems, servers, communication media etc. Microsoft is constantly undergoing changes and innovation in order to retain its position as the leader of the industry. This paper aims at analyzing Microsoft from all angles: the industry it belongs to, its current situation and what the road map of this great organization may look like and thereby present some strategies/suggestions that could be implemented and how it would affect the organization.

Microsofts Overview
Microsoft History & Products
Microsoft came to being on April 4, 1975, when William H. Gates and Paul Allen decided to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800 ( a microcomputer design ). It is now headquartered in Redmond, Washington (Bick, 1999). Things started looking bright in 1980 when Microsoft received a contract from IBM. IBM was working on a PC and wanted Microsoft to come up with an Operating system for the new PC. In order to honor the contract, Microsoft bought Q_DOS operating system from a programmer for around $50,000 and renamed it to MS-DOS. MS-DOS helped Microsoft dominate the home computer operating system market in the 80s. Microsoft was incorporated in 1981, following the release of the IBM PC with MS-DOS (Bick, 1999). The Initial Public Offering got the company 61 million US dollars after it went public in 1986. Windows, the OS that we are all familiar with, was initially called Second generation operating system, OS/2 in 1987. Microsoft continued research and innovation and came up with Microsoft office later on. Microsoft office is now the most widely used Office Suite available today. The beginning of the century saw a major change in the organizational structure of the company. Ballmer was appointed CEO and Gates the Chairman and Chief Architect. Windows XP, the most successful and stable windows to date, was launched in 2001. The year 2001 also saw the birth of the legendary video game console Xbox which is still loved and admired to this day.

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Research, innovations and upgrades continued and in 2007, Microsoft launched the Windows Vista whose user interface was nothing short of a visual treat. Microsoft Office 2007 also saw the light of day in the same year. On a more personal front, Bill Gates took a break from his role as Chief Architect in 2008 in order to focus on some personal commitments. He however continued to be the Chairman and took decisions on areas of research and key development areas. By 2009, Microsoft, which started as a simple software development company, had its presence felt in almost all areas of the IT industry ranging from software products and hardware devices to software development tools and Internet services.

Microsoft Goals
Microsofts main goal is to address the most pressing issues and to provide immediate attention to resolve these issues.

Microsoft Culture
The work culture at Microsoft Corporation is one that is desired and craved by anyone who works for the IT industry. The company itself and the individuals in the company value integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continuous self-

improvement, and mutual respect. Along with these core values, the entire organization is committed to its customers and partners and works hard on its passion for technology. The work culture permits employees to dress casually thereby keeping them comfortable at all times. Work life balance is never a concern as working hours are flexible along with a Work from Home option when necessary (Dowling, 2001). The work culture at Microsoft encourages innovation, research and development, recognizes and awards innovative ideas, and does not shy away from risks. Even while Gates has been away since 2008 on personal commitments, the work culture has still managed to be the same. This is attributed to Gates passing on his ways to the other senior board members and management. In short the Microsoft culture is smart, effective, aggressive, and focused towards achieving its goal of technological excellence (Bick, 1999).

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Branding
A strong brand is a precious invaluable advantage as the battle to attain customers is intensifying day by day. A brand is nothing but a sign, symbol or name that uniquely identifies the product or service being sold. In the following few paragraphs, lets take a deep dive into understanding how the concept of branding came into place and what its implications are (Dowling, 2001).

Origin
Studies show that the term brand is derived from the Norse word brand which meaning to burn. Here it actually referred to the practice of burning a mark into a product to mark ownership of the product. In earlier days the product could be cattle (branded by farmers) or also slaves (branded by their masters). The branding was generally done by the use of a hot iron stamp. However, branding methodologies are no longer the same as before. Slavery of course has been abolished and cruelty towards animals is a heinous crime (Haig, 2003). Some of the earliest examples of branding to identify and distinguish good quality products from the bad one does can be seen in the oil lamps made in the Greek islands. A special mark (or brand symbol) was placed on the lamp for people to understand that it was the longer lasting one. This is exactly what happens in the competitive marketing industry today. Companies build brands and market them in such a way so as to tempt customers to opt for the new branded products. When a brand is an immense success for a company it becomes the flagship product of the company. A legally protected brand name is called a Trademark (Haig, 2003).

Definition
The brand is a huge concept. Having just one definition for it may not be optimum. One has to consider a lot of scenarios when it comes to defining branding namely visual, perceptual, and positioning, added value, image and personality of the product or service. In simple terms a brand can be defined as a product, service or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products and services. Individuals and scholars have given their own definitions for branding. For e.g., Brassington and Pettitt have defined branding to be the creation of a three dimensional 4

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

character for product, defined in terms of packaging, colors, symbols etc., that distinguish it from other products provided by competitors (Kwon, 2005).

Brand Image and Brand Identity


Creating a brand alone never helped. Marketing and advertising it in the right manner also has to follow for success. Every brand has a brand image and a brand identity. As the name suggest, brand identity is nothing but how outwards expression of a brand including its name, trademark logo, visual appearance etc. Brand image on the other hand refers to mental picture that the customers have on the brand. It is important to bridge the gap between brand image and brand identity in order to secure and attain success (Kwon, 2005; Lilien & Rangaswamy, 1999). Brand image is a result of a lot of information. It could be word of mouth information, experience with purchasing the product or service, advertising, packaging etc. modified by perception of the product, beliefs, norms and also possibly forgetting about the product. Ensuring proper quality and keeping customers happy helps build brand image. Brand identity cannot succeed without a strong brand image. It is important that the stakeholders understand the essence and expression that the companies reflects about their brands (Brnn & Ihlen, 2009; Kwon, 2005).

Importance of Branding
Great branding along with marketing and advertising can achieve 1) Greater credibility 2) Motivation to the consumer 3) Setup user loyalty showing confidence that the customer has towards the branded product. 4) Deliver the necessary message clearly => communicates information about the product and the way you do business (Lilien & Rangaswamy, 1999).

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

A brand is thereby not something to be considered lightly and every business should and will have a brand profile. The brand should be given focus, attention and should undergo innovation in all aspects so as to give the company the above mentioned advantages and many more as well. Branding can help springboard the company forward thereby giving the firm a competitive edge. Lets move on to see in detail the importance of branding considering different areas (Lilien & Rangaswamy, 1999).

Branding in private organization


Be it the public sector or the private sector, the importance of branding cannot be neglected. Branding in the private sector is not only beneficial to the company but also gives the employees satisfaction in the fact that they are working for an organization of repute and also pride in the same (Melewar, 2008). The very idea of having customers who will choose your product regardless of what other companies and brands are offering helps boost the companys morale. Brand loyalty is something that all companies drool over. Take for example Microsoft and Virgin Group. Microsoft is the world leader in technology and this makes it a brand worth working for. Employees stay loyal to the brand name and try to touch the sky in terms of productivity. Richard Branson, on the other hand can be considered as the sole reason for morale boost in Virgin group with his great profile and clear cut purpose (Melewar, 2008). Strong and successful branding also makes it difficult for new organizations to get into the same sector. This is because strong branding gives a strong reputation to both the company as well as its leading competitors. This makes it difficult for a new organization to come up with a brand and compete against existing strongholds. A brand can never last unless it continues to be trustworthy, of high quality and cutting edge. Advertising and commercial will be futile if it does not meet these basic requirements of a brand. With branding, there also comes a need to maintain customer relations. Keeping customers happy with their products ensures success of the branding profile (Brnn & Ihlen, 2009; Haig, 2004).

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

New Products
Having a good brand image makes it easier to introduce new products that have the brand name of its existing older products. Customers loyal to the older products know that the brand is of great quality, reliability and repute and will have no problem trying out the new products. Consider for e.g. Heinz regularly introduces new products into the market. Customers trust Heinz as a brand owing it to their high quality and packaging and are hence like to try the new products as well. This explains how a brand image can propel the companys profits. Moreover, by introducing a new product in the brand, it indirectly acts as promotion to the already existing products (Brnn & Ihlen, 2009).

Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty can be defined as the customers commitment and faith in the brand to make repeated purchases in spite of market pressure from other competing brands. E.g. Apple has a huge customer base that is willing to overlook other developments and only buy apple computers and tablets. Brand loyalty helps the company attain stability and enables better use of resources. Some of the key factors influencing brand loyalty may include perceived value of the product, trust, satisfaction and repeat purchase behavior. When brand loyalty is achieved, the firm can use this loyalty to sell its products at premium prices. However a premium prices does not mean an unreasonable price. In order to maintain brand loyalty, the seller has to ensure that the prices are kept reasonable (Moingeon & Soenen, 2002).

Branding in Public Sector


So far we have pinpointed the importance of branding in the private sector. That does not make the public sector any less important. Branding is not an exclusive right of the private sector. However in contrast to the profit oriented branding techniques by the private sector, the public sector does not really place more importance on profit earning. The public sector is no longer the scary sector that controls the general population as branding has made it open approachable and seemingly interested in building relationships with the citizens. The aim of competitive branding in the public sector is to attain a target audience and not that of making profits. NHS is a good 7

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

example of a branding in the public sector that aims at providing health care to all the corners of the nation. Since NHS does not seem to be involved in the profit making business, the competition against the organization is nothing short of zero (Melewar, 2008; Schmidt & Ludlow, 2002). As mentioned earlier, every organization should understand the essence and expression of its brand. The main aim of NHS is to spread awareness and understanding among the people towards safe sex practices by placing ads on TV or through newspaper adverts. The flashing of the NHS brand name on TV brings about an immediate understanding that a lifesaving venture is to follow immediately. Such ventures are taken seriously even though there is no profit involved thereby enabling NHS to reach its goal of saving lives. Customers today live in a world filled with branding. It would be wrong if the public sector did not move along with the changes induced by time (Haig, 2011).

Potential Problems in Raising Brand Awareness


Brand awareness refers to the degree by which consumers associate their brand with a product. Along with good marketing strategies and excellent advertising campaigns, a well knows brand name has the ability to remain on top for years at a stretch. As per a reliable survey, the top 20 brand names in 2005 continued to be the top 20 brands in 2006. In order to attain brand equity, it is important to build brand awareness. Creating brand awareness is extremely difficult due to the increased flow of new products and brands into the market. Studies reveal that almost 90% of the new products do not hold a shelf life of over 2-3 years because they failed to create brand awareness during that period. Customers did not even know that these products existed. Brand awareness can be improved by many mediums including advertising, social media and networking sites, blogs, word of mouth publicity, sponsors, events etc. (Haig, 2011).

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Industry Situational Analysis


One of the fastest growing industries today is the technology industry driven by innovation. Innovation comprises of research, design, development, demos and development and involves a range of the organizations resources and personnel. The technology industry is growing at an extremely rapid rate expanding from the developed to all over the developing countries as well. Competition between companies in the industry is immense thereby keeping monopoly out of the picture and keeping prices controlled.

Brand Competition Analysis


Cut throat competition is evident and easily noticed in the technology industry. New, exciting and innovative high quality products enter the market every day and with aggressive pricing schemes, marketing and advertising strategies keeps competition stiff. Consumers can also choose any product they want and can switch loyalty as similar products are available in various brands. Entry into such industries has a moderate threat as customers seem to accept any product which stands out in terms of innovation, reliability and design. These intense competitions also fuel rivalry between organizations (Schultz & Walters, 1997). Currently the battle seems to be on for market shares, talent and intellectual properly in order to emerge as leaders in the technology industry. Brand loyalty, though present in immense numbers, seems to be losing out due to increased competition and the availability of similar products with greater capabilities at lower rates. An example of this can be seen in the tablet market with low priced tablets offering similar features as that of the highly priced Apple tablet selling like hotcakes hampering the iPad market. This demand for new innovative products encourages new products to hop into the industry and also encourages the introduction of substitute products. The increasing popularity of open source has increased the number of products to a great extent. Open source promotes free distribution and access to design and implementation thereby enabling product customization and also ensuring quality (Haig, 2011).

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Open source allows users to view, modify and redistribute software. This in turn has had a major impact on the bargaining power of suppliers. Suppliers of software applications have been reduced to the bare minimum. In order to reduce cost, most of the supplier support backward compatibility thereby reducing costs. Bargaining power is still present for those brands that have concrete brand images and brand names like that of computer chips, processors and operating system. Other than for these few components, the bargaining power in the industry has been severely diminished (Riel and Balmer, 1997). From the buyers point of view, the availability of products is immense with the increasing number of suppliers and the products they offer. This gives the buyer decent purchasing power as in the buyer has the ability to choose from a load of product offerings, designs and the major advantage being that most of the offerings have similar features e.g. personal computers. Products that use proprietary software are unique and provide an exception to this case e.g. Apples iOS, Linux. The technology industry is so versatile and so fast growing that even the five forces namely external factors that affect the visibility of the industry, new competitors, existing competitors, buyers and suppliers cannot prevent profits from being generated for new, innovative and likable products.

Driving Forces
The main driving forces that impact any industry are government regulations, customer base and innovation. This holds true from the technology industry as well. Of late, the Internet has been another driving force with the potential to be the most dominating force in the industry. Web based applications that are easy to use and have a decent user interface can be accessed directly from home has been the biggest change in Internet recently, along with word processors, excel sheets and presentation capable applications. It is mandatory that the seller keeps his products up with the trend and never lag behind (Wheeler, 2003).

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

With the steady inflow of new, improved and better products into the market, product innovation should be considered as the most important driving force in the technology industry. Any new innovation from another product should be countered with a more innovative cost effective solution in order to maintain the existing customer base and to sustain customer loyalty, an ever diminishing characteristic. In the technology driven world of today, competition keeps the prices down. This is based on the fact that the consumers are willing to try out new products and are even getting tech savvy. People crave for newer better products thereby creating opportunities for the development of new desirable products (Wheeler, 2003).

Position of Major Brands


The table below gives us an understanding of the position and strategies adopted by the leading in the technology industry. Microsoft of course is at the apex with Windows OS and Office Suite spread all across the world. Apple, with its unique identity, amazing product innovation and greatest brand loyalty, seems to be on the road to becoming the first trillion dollar company. They are the biggest stronghold in terms of market share in the industry (Schmidt & Ludlow, 2002). No technology company stands up to Google in the online domain. With humble beginnings as a search engine, Google now dominates in various fields of the Internet including mail, maps, photography, social networking or YouTube videos. Google has even begun to dominate the smart phone market and tablet market with its Android operating system and has also gained the first license for self-driven cars. Innovation seems to be happening in all areas at Google. Google is even eyeing dominance in cloud computing which looks like the core area of interest for all technology companies. Linux on the other hand, looks like a threat that Microsoft is aware of and is working towards countering. The Linux operating system is not only powerful but is also open source which helps it easily accumulate market share. The Android OS is based on Linux platforms. Open source helps Linux innovate at an extremely low cost (Schmidt & Ludlow, 2002).

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Competitor Brand Strategies


Windows Azure is Microsofts best bet towards web solutions as it will be the platform to develop web based programs to support its goal to dominate in the cloud computing field. Innovation, as it always has been, will be Apples area of focus in order to bring exciting new products with amazing features into the market. Apple is currently basking in the glory of the immense success of their iPhone and iPad products. Google looks towards dominating the cloud computing industry while also focusing on revolutionary innovation in the web platform as well as their innovation in self-driven cars. Linux will continue to use open source in order to generate market share. With each open source application that Linux provides that contains functionality present in licensed software; Linux will grow and solidify its market share in the industry (Schmidt & Ludlow, 2002).

Strategy

Predicted Moves

Broad differentiation across entire Microsoft technology industry

Launch Azure (cloud computing), continue improving other products

Apple

Narrow differentiation through marketing and quality of products

Continue to successfully launch new products into the market Launch cloud computing operating system to compete with Microsoft Windows Continue innovation and improving products to gain market share

Google

Low-cost provider on internet-based solutions

Linux

Low-cost provider

Table 1.0: Analysis of competitors by strategy and predicted moves

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Success Factors
Innovation is the key to success in the technology industry. Releasing new products to counter the new ones that enter the market everyday requires planned innovation and effort. Without innovation, it is impossible to maintain brand loyalty. A perfect example would be the downfall of Nokia and Alcatel due to their lack of innovation and insight in the smart phone industry. However, innovation alone does not guarantee success. Distribution plays an equally important role. New advertised products should be available easily to the customer. If marketing and distribution is ill managed, customers may move on other products that are more easily available and that meet their requirements.

Brand Attractiveness
The hip and happening nature of the technology industry is mainly due to its fast paced growth, competition and market size. New products are welcome in this market and this makes competition extremely intense and challenging. Just like every other industry, the technology industry lots of issues and concerns. Prominent among these concerns is software piracy. Even though piracy is illegal and punishable by law, preventing software piracy is no easy task (Riel and Balmer, 1997). Software giants like Microsoft lose millions of dollars every year in software piracy and have even introduced their own initiatives to prevent the same. Even though various measures like use of code keys, hardware codes and anti-piracy software's have been introduced, piracy still seems to be happening extensively. The technology industry is already massive but there still seems to be room for growth as there is always a demand for better more innovative products.

Brand Situational Analysis


Like every other company Microsoft too has a mission and vision and a way to achieve this. Microsofts Mission Statement to develop and market software, services, hardware, and solutions that we believe deliver new opportunities, greater convenience, and enhanced value to people's lives. 13

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Microsofts Vision to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. Objective Microsoft plans to make its vision come true by "creating technology that transforms the way people work, play, and communicate.

Evaluation of the Branding Strategy


The Microsoft Enterprise Strategy Program focuses on business impact and value addition to customers by fostering innovation. The strategy aims at providing a well-defined approach that not only maximizes of value of Microsoft products but also enables business transformation and technology advances. It employs the use of methodologies and frameworks gained from knowledge and experience of working with customers over a long period of time. The strategy also involves working with highly experienced professionals who have the ability to provide real world business experiences and product insights thereby helping in attaining long term business incentives. The strategy also involves communication with subject matter experts with intensive IT knowledge to address specific needs and to innovate in the right direction.

Qualitative Analysis
Microsoft has always allocated sufficient funds in the areas of research and development. R&D fosters innovation which is extremely important to stay alive and competitive in the industry. Microsoft has also invested significantly in order to purchase technologies, acquire companies and invest in intellectual property rights. Although Microsoft is headquartered at Redmond, Washington, the company has taken steps to improve innovation on a global scale by setting up facilities all over the United States of America as well as other countries like China, Denmark, India, Canada etc. and many others. This not only helps innovation but also helps Microsoft employ the best talents from all over the world thereby remaining competitive in local and international markets through innovation and better distribution. Microsoft has employed a structured three-part process that provides context for defining initiatives, plans for measuring change, and demonstrating business value. This methodology 14

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

results in a prioritized portfolio of opportunities, a program for change and value prediction, and also in value realization globally as well as locally (Riel and Balmer, 1997). Microsoft has taken various steps and measures to increase customer satisfaction and to localize products and services. Call centers have been set up all over the world so that a higher level of support is provided to customers as the staff can relate to and better understand the local culture and sentiments. Microsoft has also planned to become more aggressive by reducing the prices of a lot of products from the ever famous Windows to their office products and Internet services.

Financial ratios 2009 Net profit margin Debt to Equity Return on Asset Current Ratio

24.93 percent

0.29

18.71 percent

1.82

2008

29.26 percent

0.18

24.29 percent

1.45

Table 2.0: Microsoft Corporation's financial analysis

The above table throws some light onto the financial reports of Microsoft. As it can be seen, the profit margins remain high even though 2009 saw a massive economic recession. The debt is minimal with respect to the returns and these shows why and how Microsoft continues to be the stronghold of the technology industry.

Microsoft's Price and Cost Competitiveness


A company as massive and competitive as Microsoft has to place importance not only on research and development but also on the various support activities involved in maintaining their vast products and services. A significant fund is allocated to R&D. This ensures that Microsoft is in the right path towards innovation which is a key success factor in the IT industry. Windows and Office already have an unmatched value and brand image. However it is never enough.

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Public awareness and building of company image through advertising, sales and marketing is mandatory and Microsoft has allocated funds to ensure this as well. Microsoft Windows is the desired OS used by most multinational organizations because the support services provided and its compatibility with other softwares make the product worth it (Haig, 2011). Owning a product such as Windows requires great distribution capabilities. Microsoft maintains a good rapport with its suppliers and distributors and uses SAP Supplier relation Management and Customer relationship management to ensure that the products are always visible and are never lagging in the competitive market. Multiple programs have also been introduced to reduce the operational expenses incurred during production thereby allowing the product to be sold at a lower rate. One such program is the Resource Management program. This helps tackle the issue of easily available open source applications in the marketplace. The support activities help maintain customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty and are currently in place all over the globe thereby increasing performance of the entire chain (Haig, 2011).

Weighted Brand Strength Assessment


Even though Microsoft is currently the market leader in the industry, it faces stiff competition from Google, Linux and lots of other organizations. The Apple iOS is a major competitor with Windows and Apple is on its path towards becoming the first trillion dollar company with the support of its customer base and loyalty. Linux has a low percent of the market share, but since it is open source, momentum is with Linux. Internet Explorer is facing stiff competition from Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. This war between the browsers has been going on with Internet Explorer losing at the moment. Mozilla is the leading browser currently and is open source. A few more open source softwares in other areas could see Linux grabbing a huge chunk of the market share (Haig, 2011).

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Weight Microsoft Score Google Score Market share Innovation Distribution Marketing Total

Apple Score

Linux Score

0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1

8 7 9.5 7 31.5

3.2 2.1 1.9 0.7 7.9

6 8.5 8 2 24.5

2.4 2.55 1.6 0.2 6.75

4 9 6 9 28

1.6 2.7 1.2 0.9 6,4

2 8 3 1 14

0.8 2.4 0.6 0.1 3,9

Table 3.0: Weighted assessments of Microsoft competitors Google is the company to watch out for with its exponential growth when compared to the other organizations. Focused on web development, applications, smart phones and cloud computing, Google seems to have it all figured out towards becoming the industry leader over the next few years. Google products are easily available to any customer with access to Internet. This eliminates the need to even have a separate budget for marketing. In the tech industry, customers can choose from a variety of products. It is important that these products are distributed and available easily. The marketing budget of Microsoft ensures easy availability of the product and hence the market share of Microsoft is extremely high. Microsoft is not the only company with significant investments in distribution. Apple has also joined the league by making its products available online and in major stores/malls all over the world. Linux is a little low on the distribution front and needs to improve in this area in order to gain market share.

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Implementation Recommendations
In order to facilitate continuous growth Microsoft needs to invest in R&D, innovation, retaining of top talent and recruitment of new talent to come up with new fresh innovative ideas. Recruiting should be done in a cost effective manner. Supplier Relationship Management should also be given utmost importance and a good rapport needs to be maintained with the distributors of products and services as they are one of the most important success factors in the industry.

Budgets
Research and innovation is a key to the success of an organization in the technology industry. Sufficient budgets should be allocated in the research and development labs of the organization in order to promote innovation. Along with retaining top talent, recruiting new skilled talent also helps in the growth of the organization. This can be achieved by providing sufficient budget to ensure this to the HR team. Microsoft Bing has entered the market but has not yet generated the buzz for people to move from Google to Bing. Improved marketing strategies have to be defined in order to increase the use of Bing and to prepare for the launch of Azure (Wheeler, 2003).

Continued Policies and Programs


Providing software solutions and products alone is never sufficient. Microsoft should ensure that they are aware of what the customers feel about their products though continuous feedback programs and polling. Forums such as MSDN which provide assistance to customers facing technical difficulties should be updated regularly with the necessary documentation, bug fixes and service upgrades etc. In order to maintain efficient distribution of products, supplier relationship management should be given utmost importance. New ideas from customers and employees should be brainstormed, considered and implemented in order to increase efficiency. New policies and programs should be put into place to develop the already amazing work culture thereby strengthening the workforce and their commitment which directly results in the growth of the organization (Haig, 2011).

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Microsoft has placed its hands on almost all sectors in the technology industry and has not failed in any of its activities. Be it innovation or marketing and sales strategies, Microsoft has excelled in all of them and has provided quality services and products thereby generating a massive customer base. Microsoft continues to be a market leader and a great source of investment for shareholders as there are no signs of the company wearing down. There are only prospects of growth and prosperity for the years to come.

Brand Strength
Brand strength can be defined as the strength of the consumer demand for a brand, relative to the competitor. A unique brand personality and a unique brand identity are the key requirement mandate to building brand strength. Brand identity is however always mixed and confused with brand image. The table below shows the difference between brand image and brand identity (Aaker, 2004). Brand identity is a more complex, richer and more significant concept to consider when creating a brand. A brand is not all about appearance and brand strength emphasizes on this (Aaker, 2004). Brand Image Appearance More on the receivers side Passive Reflects superficial qualities Backward looking Tactical Associations already there Brand Identity Substance More on the senders side Active Reflects enduring qualities Forward looking Strategic Associations aspired to

Table 4.0: Brand image vs. Brand identity 19

Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

Based on the above table, brand image can be defined as the value that customers have in their mind for the brand and brand identity is what the product really is. Rather than have a strategy to build a brand image, companies should focus on strategies that build brand identity. In order to ensure brand image and identity are aligned, specific strategies are needed to be rolled out and sincere management efforts have to be put into place. In order to fix the brand, a complete study has to be done to understand where the product stands in the market at present and how its image can be aligned with its identity (Aaker, 2004).

Developing Brand Personality


Brand personality can be described simply as the way a brand speaks and behaves. Each brand is associated with certain human traits and personalities in order to achieve differentiation. These traits can be anything from trustworthy, energetic, assertive, unpretentious, arrogant, friendly, and helpful and so on. When brand image or brand identity is explained in terms of human traits, it is called brand personality. Brand personality is often under estimated by marketing teams as it is intangible and does not really exist. This however is a major concern and marketing teams should be educated on the undesirable consequences of the same. While brand image denotes the tangible attributes of a brand, brand personality denotes the emotional associations of the brand. The success of a brand and its appeal to the customer base depends significantly on the brand personality (Riel and Balmer, 1997). Brands begin to develop personalities with time. This need not always is for the good. Hence, a well-planned brand personality description should be made an important part of the brand development strategy. Advertising alone does not define a brands personality. Brand personality is affected in many ways ranging from packaging to customer support and service. If the quality of packaging is bad, it gives the wrong idea about the character of the brand. A ramped up and knowledgeable customer service also helps increase brand personality by a great amount. Interactions with the customer have a major impact on the brand personality. This makes customer service and supports a very important deciding factor in branding (Riel and Balmer, 1997).

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

In the corporate world, procurement of products is greatly influenced by brand personality. Research has shown that computer buyers rate hardware and software companies based on various dimensions of brand personality.

Conclusion
To summarize, branding strategies play an extremely important and significant role in achieving product success, customer loyalty and in keeping the product alive in the intensely competing market. Based on these findings, it is our sincere request to anyone interested in the selling of products in the technology industry to plan and define a brand identity and strategy about what the product is what it plans to be and how it can be differentiated from those available in the market. Dont underestimate the importance of a likable personality: Likability is a key factor to bridge the gap between the customer and the brand. It is one of the most underrated parts of the technology process. Don't underrate brand personality: It is near impossible to create a brand that appeals to everybody. Such an attempt should be avoided. Brand personalities are bound to attract a certain group of people. A successful brand personality is one that does not try to cater to everyone but to specific group. Dont be misled by research that appears to diminish the role of personality: Based on results from quantitative research, it is clear that functional attributes are responsible for product consideration and procurement. However quantitative research alone does not cover all scenarios. A qualitative research is required as well. This will help pin point and better understand brands and their personalities and how they help in the overall branding of the organization.

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

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Microsofts Brand Reputation Related to Empirical Literature of the Corporate Identity, Corporate Image and Corporate Reputation

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