Familiarity Breeds Ambivalence
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One goal of most corporate marketing strategies is to make stakeholders more familiar with the corporation. The implicit assumption behind these strategies is that familiarity leads to positive outcomes – particularly in the context of firm reputation. Although evidence for a positive effect of familiarity on reputation is inconclusive at best, the effect has remained part of the conventional wisdom in brand image research. This paper presents theory and research from business (eg, management, marketing, consumer research) and psychology (eg, judgment and decision making, cognitive, social, and industrial/organizational psychology), aimed at clarifying the theoretical connection between familiarity and firm reputation. We point to theoretical and empirical evidence that challenges the conventional wisdom of a positive effect of familiarity on firm reputation. We suggest that familiarity is often associated with ambivalence about organizations, and thus can be seen as both a blessing and a curse.
Keywordscorporate image firm reputation organizational attraction
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