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One pie, many recipes: Alternative paths to high brand strength

Brand strength, defined as an evaluative or behavioural response to a brand, is at the heart of brand management. This research studies the simultaneous influence of number, favourability, consensus (measured and perceived), and uniqueness of brand associations on brand strength in two product categories: gasoline and toothpaste.

The study combines multiple regression analysis (MRA) and fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to gain a nuanced understanding of how distinct combinations of brand association characteristics influence brand strength.

The findings illuminate complex brand-association configurations that drive brand equity and contribute to the development of a theory of brand strength and its drivers. Such a theory serves managers who position their brands in the marketplace and aids companies’ brand building activities.

Some implications for brand management:

  • Brand associations are crucial because they lead to an evaluative or behavioural response towards the brand
  • Using both MRA (variable-level approach) and fsQCA (case-level analysis) leads to a better understanding of the causal link between association characteristics and brand strength
  • Favourable associations and a high degree of perceived sharing of brand associations are key drivers of high brand strength


Reinhard Grohs, Karine Raies, Oliver Koll, Hans Mühlbacher (2016). One pie, many recipes: Alternative paths to high brand strength. Journal of Business Research, Vol 69, Issue 6, pp. 2244-2251.