Center for Branding // Research & Education

Creating Impact in the Marketing Field

Top-Notch Branding Research

The center publishes top-notch research in branding in the leading marketing journals. Recent projects have focused on social media’s influence on brand management.

The Center for Branding at Pitt Business is committed to creating research in branding and digital marketing that has a significant impact on the field.

One goal of the center is to partner with other departments and disciplines outside of business, including healthcare, from within the University and within other universities. External collaborations can foster research and develop inter-disciplinary grants.

    Faculty Research & Scholarship Highlights

    Portrait of Professor Vanitha Swaminathan

     Vanitha Swaminathan, Thomas Marshall Professor of Marketing

    “Branding in a Hyperconnected World: Refocusing Theories and Rethinking Boundaries,” 2020
    Vanitha Swaminathan, Co-Authors: Alina Sorescu, Jan-Benedict EM Steenkamp, Thomas Clayton Gibson O’Guinn, and Bernd Schmitt,  Journal of Marketing 84 (2), 24-46.

    Technological advances have resulted in a hyperconnected world, requiring a reassessment of branding research from the perspectives of firms, consumers, and society. Brands are shifting away from single ownership to shared ownership, as heightened access to information and people is allowing more stakeholders to cocreate brand meanings and experiences alongside traditional brand owners and managers. Moreover, hyperconnectivity has allowed existing brands to expand their geographic reach and societal roles, while new types of branded entities (ideas, people, places, and organizational brands) are further stretching the branding space. To help establish a new branding paradigm that accounts for these changes, the authors address the following questions: (1) What are the roles and functions of brands?, (2) How is brand value (co)created?, and (3) How should brands be managed? Throughout the article, the authors also identify future research issues that require scholarly attention, with the aim of aligning branding theory and practice with the realities of a hyperconnected world.

    Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity, 5th Edition, Pearson Education
    Keller, Kevin Lane and Vanitha Swaminathan

    • Vanitha Swaminathan’s book, Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity(Fifth Edition), co-authored with Kevin Lane Keller, was published by Pearson in January 2019. Strategic Brand Management examines branding from the consumer perspective and the new edition features an in-depth examination of digital branding.

    Journal of Marketing Announces New Coeditors

    Recently appointed Journal of Marketing editor designate Shrihari Sridhar is pleased to announce the selection of three coeditors to serve during his editorship, which begins July 2022: Cait Lamberton, Detelina Marinova, and Vanitha Swaminathan. 

    Learn More via AMA

    Portrait of Professor Eugenia Wu

    Eugenia Wu, Associate Professor of Business Administration

    Wu, Eugenia C., Sarah G. Moore and Gavan J. Fitzsimons (2019), “Wine for the Table: Self-Construal, Group Size, and Choice for Self and Others,” forthcoming at the Journal of Consumer Research.

    Wu, Eugenia C., and Keisha M. Cutright (2018) “In God’s Hands: How Reminders of God Dampen the Effectiveness of Fear Appeals”, Journal of Marketing Research, 55 (1), 119-131.

    Portrait of Professor Peggy Liu

    Peggy Liu, Assistant Professor of Business Administration

    Working Paper: Social Exclusion Leads People to Seek Sincere Brands
    Kate E. Min, Peggy J. Liu, James R. Bettman, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Gavan J. Fitzsimons

    Humans seek belonging, a sense of connections with others, as such connections are a fundamental source of safety and security. We examine how being socially excluded affects consumers’ brand preferences. Bridging literature on social exclusion with brand personality, we show that exclusion leads consumers to prefer brands with sincere personalities. Specifically, excluded consumers choose sincere brands over exciting brands (and also choose sincere brands over popular brands) and have stronger self-brand connections with sincere brands. Furthermore, we show that the effect of exclusion on preferring sincere (vs. exciting) brands is driven by a decreased sense of safety, as sincere (vs. exciting) brands are perceived to be safer. Implications for theory, brand marketers, and opportunities for future research are discussed.


    Marketing Letters, September 2018, 29 (3), pp 275–289
    Casey E. Newmeyer, R. Venkatesh, Julie A. Ruth, Rabikar Chatterjee

    Brand alliances, which involve intentionally presenting two or more brands together, appear in many different forms. For example, Subway stores placed within Wal-Mart, Airbus A380 airplanes with Rolls-Royce Trent engines, and Nike + iPod co-developed personal trainers are among the more well-known manifestations of this strategy. Our study contributes to the literature on brand alliances by conceptualizing and measuring a typology of brand alliance types based on their degree of integration. We also empirically test and find that consumers are sensitive to varying degrees of brand alliance integration.

    Recent Media Mentions

    “Virtual Influencers Are Becoming More Real—Here’s Why Brands Should Be Cautious”
    AMA, June 20, 2019

    “Sell to Voters, Not Consumers”
    AMA, June 13, 2019

    “Instagram and Tinder Go Back to School with Features Just for College Kids.”
    CNN Money, August 27, 2018, August 28, 2018
    CBS Detroit, August 28, 2018
    Expansión, August 29, 2018

    “Kylie Jenner Is on Track to Become the Youngest Self-Made Billionaire. Ever.”
    Chicago Tribune, July 14, 2018
    Bay City Observer, August 21, 2018
    Independent Online, August 29, 2018

    “Making Financial Decisions: The Endowment Effect.”
    MD Magazine, March 22, 2018

    Honors & Awards

    Sayan Gupta, PhD Candidate

    Sayan Gupta was the Winner of the prestigious 2020 INFORMS Society for Marketing Science (ISMS) Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Competition (Vanitha Swaminathan  served as Dissertation Advisor on Winning Entry). His dissertation research is on social media and the role of brand activism in polarization.

    Vanitha Swaminathan Awards/Honors

    2020 Invited to Sheth Doctoral Consortium at Indiana University (rescheduled to be held in 2021)

    2020 Invited to serve as a Judge on ANA’s Genius awards for excellence in Marketing Analytics, alongside industry leaders in marketing (only academic to serve on the panel)


    2020 Lehmann Award awarded to the best dissertation-based article published in Journal of Marketing and Journal of Marketing Research in 2019-2020 (served as dissertation advisor and co-author on award-winning article)

    2019 Excellence in Research Award, Katz School of Business

    2019 Excellence in Teaching Award, Katz School of Business

    2019 Faculty at 2019 AMA’s Sheth Doctoral Consortium, New York University, June 2019

    2018-19 President, American Marketing Association Academic Council

    2018 Faculty at 2018 Marketing Strategy Consortium, Indiana University, March 2019

    2018 Faculty at 2018 AMA’s Sheth Doctoral Consortium, Leeds University, June 2018

    2018 Best Paper Award for “Connected Consumers and Social Media” Track, 2018 AMA Winter Academic Conference, New Orleans (Co-winner with PhD Student, Christian Hughes)

    2018 Mentor for AMA’s EBSCO Answers in Action Grant, Awarded to PhD Student, Christian Hughes

    • Interview with Vanitha Swaminathan, President of AMA Academic Council
    • Katz and Center for Branding PhD student Christian Hughes wins Answers in Action Grant:
    • Christian Hughes and Vanitha Swaminathan received the Best Paper in Theme award at the Winter 2018 AMA Conference in New Orleans for “Communicating in a Melting Pot: How Audience Diversity Impacts Word of Mouth Valence.”
    • Fulbright Scholarship recipient Rabia Baye will spend the academic year at Katz School of Business researching brand boycotts.

    Recent Publications

    • Swaminathan, Vanitha, Sayan Gupta, Kevin Lane Keller, and Donald Lehmann. “Brand actions and financial consequences: a review of key findings and directions for future research.” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (2022): 1-26.
    • Swaminathan, V., Schwartz, H. Andrew, Menezes, Rowan and Shawndra Hill (2022). The Language of Brands in Social Media: Using Topic Modeling on Social Media Conversations to Drive Brand Strategy. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 57(2), 255-277.
    • Swaminathan, Vanitha, Alina Sorescu, Jan-Benedict EM Steenkamp, Thomas Clayton Gibson O’Guinn, and Bernd Schmitt. “Branding in a Hyperconnected World: Refocusing Theories and Rethinking Boundaries.” Journal of Marketing, 84, no. 2 (2020): 24-46.
    • Keller, Kevin Lane and Vanitha Swaminathan (2019) Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity, 5th Edition, Pearson Education.
    • Paharia, Neeru and Vanitha Swaminathan (2019),”Who is Wary of Cocreation? The Hazards of Empowering Power-Distant and Conservative Consumers”, 83 (3), Journal of Marketing, 91-107.
    • Christian Hughes, Swaminathan, Vanitha and Gillian Brooks (2019),” Driving Brand Engagement Through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns “, forthcoming, Journal of Marketing.
    • Swaminathan, Vanitha and Suyun Mah (2016), “What 100,000 Tweets About the Volkswagen Scandal Tell Us About Angry Customers,” Harvard Business Review, October 2016.
    • Swaminathan, Vanitha (2016), “Branding in the Digital Era: New Directions for Research on Customer-Based Brand Equity,” AMS Review, 6, 33-38.
    • Cade, N. L. (2016), “Corporate social media: how two-way disclosure channels influence investors.”
    • Dunn, B. K., Ramasubbu, N., Lowry, P. B., and Galletta, D. F., “Time versus Territory: Online Information Foraging and Its Implications for User Brand Engagement,” Working Paper, 2016.
    • Kubat, Umut and Vanitha Swaminathan (2015), “Crossing the Cultural Divide through Bilingual Advertising: The Moderating Role of Brand Cultural Symbolism,” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 32 (4), 354–362.
    • Swaminathan, Vanitha, Zeynep Gürhan-Canli, Umut Kubat and Ceren Hayran  (2015), “How, When, and Why Do Attribute-Complementary versus Attribute-Similar Cobrands Affect Brand Evaluations: A Concept Combination Perspective,” Journal of Consumer Research, 42 (1), 45-58.
    • Newmeyer, Casey E., R. Venkatesh, and Rabikar Chatterjee (2014), “Cobranding arrangements and partner selection: a conceptual framework and managerial guidelines,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 42:2, 103-118.


    After deciding to major in business, I thought it was best to attend college in a city where there are more opportunities for experiential learning and internships.

    Daniel Schlegel

    CBA '20

    The business school truly gives students opportunities to make their college experience meaningful. And, as an urban school, Pitt has the best resources to get students involved in their careers as soon as possible.

    James Boston

    CBA '22