Image Reinforcement or Impairment: The Effects of Co-Branding on Attribute Uncertainty
44 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2005
Date Written: June 2005
Co-branding is often used by managers to reinforce the image of their brands. In this paper, we investigate when a brand's image is reinforced or impaired as a result of co-branding, and which partner is right for a firm that considers co-branding for image reinforcement. We address these issues by examining the effects of co-branding on attribute uncertainty of partner brands. We conceptualize attribute beliefs as two-dimensional constructs. The first dimension reflects the expected value of the attribute, while the second dimension reflects the degree of certainty about the attribute. We argue that these parameters are updated after consumers are exposed to a co-branding activity and develop an analytical model that incorporates these notions. Based on categorization theory, the model describes the updating mechanism of partner brand beliefs that occur as a result of co-branding. An analysis of the model leads to several propositions, which we test in an experiment. Our findings indicate that it is not necessarily in a brand's best interest to choose a partner that is of the highest performance possible. Moreover, we find that while expected values of the brand attributes may improve as a result of co-branding, under certain conditions, uncertainty associated with the brands increases through the alliance, increasing the risk of image impairment.
Keywords: alliances, co-branding, image reinforcement, brand positioning
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