Original Research

Using brand identity to build brand equity: A comparison between the South African and Dutch business-to-business architectural industry

Alet Verster, Daniël J. Petzer, Nicole Cunningham
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 50, No 1 | a1372 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v50i1.1372 | © 2019 Alet Verster, Daniël J. Petzer, Nicole Cunningham | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 December 2018 | Published: 24 April 2019

About the author(s)

Alet Verster, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa
Daniël J. Petzer, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nicole Cunningham, Department of Marketing Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Existing research in the B2B field focuses on relationship marketing and not the importance of building brand equity. By focusing efforts on building brand equity B2B service firms have the opportunity to develop a long-term competitive advantage.

Objective: This study explores how Dutch and South African business-to-business architectural firms compare in their development of brand equity and use of brand identity dimensions. These groups were selected because one (Dutch) holds a favourable brand equity position, while the other (South African) is perceived less favourably. Providing a direct comparison allows the South African business-to-business architectural industry to obtain knowledge and be in a better position to develop their brand equity and identity.

Method: The research was qualitative in nature, where 13 semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants. These respondents were senior partners or marketing specialists in architectural firms in South Africa and the Netherlands.

Results: Differences were observed in the approach to the building blocks of brand equity. South African participants were more focused on internal measures (i.e. personal credibility, previous projects) influencing judgement, while Dutch respondents focused on external measures (i.e. awards, competitions). Dutch individuals developed partnership solutions with their communities, whereas their South African counterparts were reluctant to do so. Differences in the utilisation of brand identity dimensions were also observed among these dimensions: employee and client focus, brand personality, corporate visual identity and consistent communication.

Conclusion: This article provides a direct comparison of brand equity positions showing how those with less favourable brand equity positions can improve their positions.


Business-to-business; B2B; brand equity; brand identity; architecture.


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