November 25, 2019

Course spotlight: Brand Management (Tisch Center)

Brand Management is a course in the BS in Hotel and Tourism Management at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. It forms a part of the Marketing and Revenue Management concentration, and focuses on decisions that hospitality businesses must make to build and manage brand equity. Dr. Vanja Bogicevic, who teaches the course, tells us more in this post. 

What is your background?

Originally, my background is in architecture and design. I designed restaurants and vacation homes and I was involved in architectural visualization of different commercial projects. Aside from providing design consulting service, I worked on designs of villas in France, Montenegro, Russia, and the visual identity of an eco-resort in the Philippines. Later in my career, I decided to pursue my second graduate degree in hospitality management. Hospitality has always been an important part of my upbringing as my parents and grandparents have been operating a guest house business on the coast of Montenegro since I was a child. In 2012, I switched careers and started to focus more on hospitality marketing research. My research is focused on exploring the effect of visual design elements on consumer behavior in hospitality and tourism. I have also investigated the role of virtual reality in branding.

At the Tisch Center, you teach the Brand Management course. What are the objectives of the course?

This course examines the principles and practices of brand management with a specific focus on the hospitality and tourism industries. The course is organized around brand management decisions that must be made to build, measure, leverage and manage brand equity. During the first half of the semester, a particular emphasis is placed on understanding psychological processes that happen within customers’ minds and learning how they perceive and relate to brands. In the second half of the semester, students actively apply the principles through analyses of management strategies of hospitality brands. The course teaches students the appropriate theories and concepts in brand management and management tools to make better branding decisions. Topics to be covered include building brand equity and brand positioning, steps in brand audits, brand performance measures, brand management strategies, and global branding challenges.

Why are you interested in this specific topic and why do you think it is important? 

Today everything is about brands. We live in an era where it’s important to have strong equity of both corporate and personal brands. CEOs, for example, need to have strong personal brands that fit with the corporate brands. The hotel industry has seen a proliferation of lifestyle brands and influencers who seek to affiliate with brands for the sake of personal branding. Brand management is embedded in both business and personal life because of social media. Brand management is more challenging nowadays than it has been in the past because customers actively engage with brands and help build brand equity. Specifically, we have noticed a rise in luxury and collection hotel brands that need to differentiate by offering a certain level of uniqueness to their customers while redefining the concept of luxury. As hospitality marketers, we need to acknowledge that customers are willing to pay premiums for brands that speak to them and that are complementary with their personal values.

What types of projects will students take on in this course? 

One of the main projects in this course will have students choose an underperforming brand, audit the brand by conducting research on it and proposing a rebranding plan. This project will allow students to hone their creative skills giving them the freedom to come up with a new positioning of an existing brand. Students also analyze case studies and present them in class in groups. During case study presentations, students take the role of lecturers and moderators of the discussion in the classroom. I find this part to be the most engaging for the students.

What impact do you hope to have on your students through this course?

I want students to understand the value of building strong brands and to understand that this is an ever changing process. How hospitality businesses build and leverage their brands matters, and this is what gives them an advantage over their competitors. All brand decisions come from social media data and research which helps marketers get a better sense of their target customers and position in the market. Additionally, I want students to learn how to grow hospitality brands and extend them into other services that are not traditional hospitality services but share the same experiential focus.

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