Research and Education

Research Projects

The Center for Branding at the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of 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.

Learn more about our new course offering, “Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) for Brands and Strategy.”

Faculty Research and Scholarship Spotlights

Vanitha Swaminathan, Thomas Marshall Professor of Marketing

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. 


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 literatures 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, and Announcements

  • 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, 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.

Grant Proposals

The Center for Branding looks forward to the opportunity to collaborate with others on interdisciplinary projects. Two grant applications have been developed for funding from the National Institute of Health. These projects involve collaborations with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Science Department. Additionally, grant funding was secured from the Marketing Science Institute for a research project.