Corporate brands: what are they? What of them?

  • Balmer J
  • Gray E
  • 369

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Abstract

This article examines the nature, importance, typology, and management of corporate brands. Argues that in making a distinction between corporate brands, corporate identities, and product brands, the underlying characteristics of corporate brands can be uncovered. A key thesis of the article is that a corporate brand is a valuable resource: one that provides an entity with a sustainable, competitive advantage if specific criteria are met. These criteria are defined in terms of an economic theory known as “the resource-based view of the firm”. An affirmation of this economic doctrine requires corporate brands to be rare, durable, inappropriable, imperfectly imitable, and imperfectly substitutable. Also contends that the traditional tripartite, branding typology be expanded to reflect the new modes in which corporate brands are being utilised. These new corporate branding categories are: familial, shared, surrogate, supra, multiplex, and federal. Finally, reasons that the management of a corporate brand requires the orchestration of six “identity types”. The critical identity type is the “covenanted identity” because it underpins the corporate brand. The covenanted identity comprises a set of expectations relating to an organisation’s products/services and activities. Internally, it acts as a standard against which an employee/employer’s actions can be evaluated. Argues that employees are crucial to the success, and maintenance, of corporate brands. Speculates that the current interest in corporate brands is redolent of a new dynamic in marketing. As such, corporate brands are symptomatic of the increased importance accorded to corporate-level concerns and concepts. This interest in corporate-level concerns should form the basis of a new branch of marketing: one that weft and weaves the concepts of corporate identity, image, reputation, communications along with corporate branding. The article concurs with Balmer and Greyser who argue that this area should be known as corporate-level-marketing. Corporate

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Authors

  • John M.T. Balmer

  • Edmund R. Gray

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