The Role of Communication in Marketing Brand Identity Change: A Case Study of the UAE SMEs

  • Yousef Al Naimat

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a dominating form of business. Most research in branding is related to big organizations and there is little research about brand change management in SMEs. Thus, brand change management has recently become a subject of interest in the UAE SMEs, due to the rapidly transforming business environment and most of these enterprises lacking the knowledge and practice of rebranding strategies to maintain the competitive performance and succeed financially (Centeno and Hart, 2012; Gundala and Khawaja, 2014). Change communication, on the other hand, plays a critical role to decide the fate of such brand identity changes in the UAE SMEs. Therefore, it has been an important and tricky subject to bring into analysis what counts as a successful brand change communication approach to adopt and use by SMEs managers during the rebranding process in the UAE SMEs. This thesis scrutinizes the change communication strategies adopted during such a strategic change process with the help of a theoretical and empirical investigation approach.

    For this specific study, the author aims to explore the role of communications in marketing brand identity changes in the UAE SMEs. The purpose of this multiple case study is to explore how the UAE SMEs use change communication strategies during the identity change process, and the influence it has on employees’ brand attitudes and behaviours. This research is qualitative in nature, and semi-structured interviews are conducted for the purpose of data collection, and a review of company documents. Data analysis is done using a thematic approach, which is a commonly used method of content analysis in the field of qualitative research.

    The study presents four key findings that have a focus on change communication strategies employed by these service companies (SMEs) in the UAE during the rebranding process. These emerging findings are change communication mechanisms, change communications effects on employees’ perceptions, situational (moderating) factors during rebranding, and change communications effects on rebranding outcomes. The study findings have shown that for the operationalization of the rebranding process to be achievable and efficient, greater change communications from SMEs managers to employees helps them become familiar with the new brand values and deliver the brand promise to customers. As employees become more committed to the brand change process, increased brand commitment leads to an increase in employees brand trust, and then enhances the brand citizenship behaviour of employees. For service SMEs, brand performance enhancement through powerful change communications by SMEs managers lead to efficient rebranding and sustainable competitive advantage.

    This study provides significant contributions to knowledge and practice in the UAE SMEs, and to researchers who are interested in understanding the role of change communications in marketing the rebranding process in SME industry. In particular, one of the significant contributions of this study to the UAE SMEs’ practice is a theoretical framework of identity change communication, which SMEs can adopt and use for strategic and efficient rebranding process that is visionary and incorporating cross-functional actions in the value-adding process. This processual framework for rebranding includes the most appropriate change communication strategies and the influencing variables that have had an impact on the success of the rebranding process in the UAE SMEs. The implications of this study for positive managerial and social changes include the potential of the SMEs managers who aim to achieve successful rebranding and participate in social changes for the welfare of employees and communities within the service SMEs in the UAE.

    Theory: Marketing Communication, Brand Change Management, Brand Identity focusing on Change Communications.
    Date of AwardJul 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of South Wales
    SupervisorJonathan Deacon (Supervisor) & Elizabeth Parkes (Supervisor)

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