Brands as Intellectual Assets: A study of how brands can be understood and claimed as intellectual assets in digital content platform firms

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Lesseur Björnek, Jesper
Malmberg, Erik
The brand has developed into a top management priority over the last decades, due to it being acknowledged as one of the most valuable intangible assets a firm can have at its disposal. In parallel, the global economy has seen a rise of digital platform providers offering intangible goods for purchase and consumption, many of which can be found on various lists of the world's most valuable brands. Hence, an interesting research field emerges in terms of how digital content platform firms leverage the brand for value extraction. Intellectual asset management is a core practice to enable value extraction from intangible assets. Thus, there is a need to investigate how the brand can be understood and claimed as a set of intellectual assets which enable sustainable value creation. A multiple case study was chosen to explore the topic, where data was gathered from five companies fulfilling the criteria of a digital content platform firm. Brands are conceptualised as perceptual entities residing in the minds of consumers, entirely dependent on their beliefs, attitudes, and emotions, which form the perceptions of a given brand. Hence, the brand transcends the meaning of a trademark or as an asset on the balance sheet and is rather a reflection of the brand knowledge, consisting of brand awareness and associations, that consumers hold in relation to a brand. While the value extraction in IAM theory takes its starting point in technology and innovation activities governed and controlled by the firm, the value extraction of the brand follows another logic and takes the starting point in the mental constructions amongst consumers. However, the study found how the inherent meaning of the brand, understood as a set of intellectual assets, can be defined through the use of a normative approach applicable in the context of digital content platform firms. Based on empirical findings and literature, the researchers propose three inclusion criteria that can be used to define the meaning of brand assets seen as a set of intellectual assets: 1) Identifiable and recognizable elements of the brand as determined by consumers, 2) Possible to directly impact by the firm, and 3) Possible to claim as intellectual assets. Said criteria underpinned the identification of four main categories of brand assets: Distinctive marks, Product Designs, Visual Expressions and Tone of Voice. Said assets contribute with value to the digital content platform firm by serving as distinct means of identification with the power to accommodate and induce brand associations amongst consumers, which is a prerequisite for the establishment of brand equity. In order to enable sustainable value creation over time, right-based control through the use of intellectual property rights serves as the primary control mechanism enabling exclusive use. However, evidence was also found for weaker control positions such as market-based control.
Brands, Brand Assets, Intellectual Assets, Intellectual Asset Management,, Intellectual Property, Value Creation,, Brand Elements
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