Is the company the only meaningful brand for services?
Some researchers argue that the 'company is the brand' for services, emphasising the pre-eminence of corporate brand image, whereas others advocate developing strong sub-brands for specific service offerings. This research explores the debate using the open-ended associations elicited by brands in two service categories. The results indicate that within a given industry, the parent company is sometimes the most prominent source of associations, but in other instances the sub-brand dominates. Moreover, in the latter case, the pre-eminence of the sub-brands often reflects specific marketing strategies to differentiate the service from competitive offerings. These results suggest that the failure to develop meaningful sub-brands for services often reflects missed opportunities at product differentiation, rather than any inherent characteristic of the service.