Branding’s academic–practitioner gap: managers’ views

Frank Alpert, Mark Brown, Elizabeth Ferrier, Claudia Fernanda Gonzalez-Arcos, Rico Piehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study aims to investigate marketing managers’ views on the existence and nature of the academic–practitioner gap in the branding domain. Design/methodology/approach: Using a purposive sampling method, the researchers conduct semi-structured qualitative interviews with 20 experienced marketing managers from a wide range of industries and organisations, whose roles are focussed on the planning, implementation and management of broad marketing and branding strategies. Findings: Branding practitioners have little or no contact with academics and their theories-in-use with regard to brand management suggest they do not consider academic research relevant to their work. Research limitations/implications: The process of describing and explaining the gap provides valuable insights into bridging the gap; it provides actionable branding strategies that include raising awareness, building relationships, improving the benefits offer and communicating more effectively. Practical implications: This research has practical implications for branding academics. The interviewed practitioners confirm the gap, viewing it as academics’ (not practitioners’) problem and responsibility. They characterise it as a branding problem that academics can overcome using branding strategies, to establish themselves as credible sources of branding expertise for practitioners. Key areas for increasing collaboration stem from practitioners’ desire for independent, credible, ethical and timely third-party advice on branding issues; relevant, timely and shorter professional branding education across their organisations; and closer connections with universities to identify new branding talent and ideas. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to empirically examine and recommend solutions to the academic-practitioner gap in the branding domain by studying marketing professionals with branding responsibilities, using in-depth interviews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-237
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Product and Brand Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Academia
  • Academic-practitioner gap
  • Branding
  • Managerial relevance
  • Marketing
  • Practice
  • Theories-in-use


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