Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 571–589 | Cite as

Revisiting the complexities of corporate branding: Issues, paradoxes, solutions

  • Richard Gyrd-JonesEmail author
  • Bill Merrilees
  • Dale Miller
Original Article


The evolution of corporate branding literature since the seminal paper by Balmer is evaluated. The literature exhibits signs of maturing, which is evidenced by multiple theoretical underpinnings and a widening scope. Four themes are identified: (i) corporate brand as differentiation; (ii) corporate brand as corporate communication; (iii) corporate brand as a values-based approach; and (iv) corporate brand as internal branding approaches. We give special attention to issues of corporate communication, corporate identity, corporate vision, multiple stakeholders, alignment, multiple voices, corporate values and organisational culture. The themes are examined through a ‘paradox’ lens. Each theme is discussed in terms of the theoretical challenges arising from complexities in that aspect of corporate branding, ensuing apparent paradoxes and possible solutions for each paradox. The paradoxes are not treated as an aberration, but rather are useful as a foundation for developing theory in corporate branding. We believe that these are natural conditions in a complex area involving multiple external and internal stakeholders. The aim is to reconstruct corporate branding theory through greater sensitivity to complex nuances. The four areas of solutions to specific paradoxes assist both theory development and corporate branding practice.


paradox theory corporate brands evolution themes external and internal branding 


  1. Aaker, D.A. (1996) Building Strong Brands. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aaker, D.A. (2004) Leveraging the corporate brand. California Management Review 46 (3): 6–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aaker, J. (2007) Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research 34 (3): 347–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Abratt, R. and Kleyn, N. (2012) Corporate identity, corporate branding and corporate reputations: Reconciling and integration. European Journal of Marketing 46 (7/8): 1048–1063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balmer, J. (2001) Corporate identity, corporate branding and corporate marketing: Seeing through the fog. European Journal of Marketing 35 (3/4): 248–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balmer, J. and Gray, E.R. (2003) Corporate brands: What are they? What of them? European Journal of Marketing 37 (7/8): 972–997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Balmer, J. and Greyser, S.A. (2002) Managing the multiple identities of the corporation. California Management Review 44 (3): 72–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Balmer, J. and Wilson, A. (1998) Corporate identity: There is more than meets the eye. International Studies of Management and Organisations 28 (3): 12–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Balmer, J.M.T and Soenen, G.B. (1999) The acid test of corporate identity management. Journal of Marketing Management 15 (1): 69–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baumgarth, C. (2010) ‘Living the brand’: Brand orientation in the business-to-business sector. European Journal of Marketing 44 (5): 653–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bernstein, D. (1986) Company Image & Reality: A Critique of Corporate Communications. Eastbourne, UK: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  12. Berthon, P., Pitt, L.F. and Campbell, C. (2009) Does brand meaning exist in similarity or singularity? Journal of Business Research 62 (3): 356–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bick, G., Jacobsen, M.C. and Abratt, R. (2003) The corporate identity management system revisited. Journal of Marketing Management 19 (7/8): 835–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brakus, J.J., Schmitt, B.H. and Zarantonello, L. (2009) Brand experience: What is it? How is it measured? Does it affect loyalty? Journal of Marketing 73 (3): 52–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brønn, P.S., Engell, A. and Martinsen, H. (2006) A reflective approach to uncovering actual identity. European Journal of Marketing 40 (7/8): 886–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Buckley, W. (ed.) (1968) Society as a complex adaptive system. In: Modern System Research for the Behavioral Scientist. Chicago: Aldine, pp. 490–513.Google Scholar
  17. Burmann, C. and Zeplin, S. (2005) Building brand commitment: A behavioural approach to internal brand management. Journal of Brand Management 12 (4): 279–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cheney, G. (1991) Rhetoric in an Organisational Society: Managing Multiple Identities. Columbia, SC: University of Southern Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  19. Cheney, G. and Christensen, L.T. (2001) Identity at issue: Linkages between internal and external organisational communication. In: F.M. Jablin and L.L. Putnam (eds.) New Handbook of Organisational Communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Christensen, L.T. and Askegaard, S. (2001) Corporate identity and corporate image revisited. European Journal of Marketing 35 (3/4): 292–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Christensen, L.T., Torp, S and Fuat, F. (2005) Integrated marketing communication and postmodernity: An odd couple? Corporate Communications: An International Journal 10 (2): 156–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cornelissan, J. (2002) Academic and practitioner theories of marketing. Marketing Theory 2 (1): 133–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. de Chernatony, L. (2001) A model for strategically building brands. Journal of Brand Management 9 (1): 32–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. de Chernatony, L. (2002) Would a brand smell any sweeter by a corporate name? Corporate Reputation Review 5 (2–3): 114–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. de Chernatony, L. and Cottam, S. (2008) Interactions between organisational cultures and corporate brands. Journal of Product and Brand Management 17 (1): 13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. de Chernatony, L. and Riley, F. (1998) Modelling the components of the brand. European Journal of Marketing 32 (11/12): 1074–1090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. de Chernatony, L. and Riley, F. (1999) Experts’ views about defining services brands and the principles of services branding. Journal of Business Research 46 (2): 181–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Deshpande, R. and Webster, F.E. (1989) Organizational culture and marketing: Defining the research agenda. Journal of Marketing 53 (January): 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Devlin, J. (2003) Brand architecture in services: The example of retail financial services. Journal of Marketing Management 19 (9/10): 1043–1065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Dowling, G.R. (1993) Developing your image into a corporate asset. Long Range Planning 26 (2): 101–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Einwiller, S. and Will, M. (2002) Towards an integrated approach to corporate branding – An empirical study. Corporate Communications: An International Journal 7 (2): 100–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Fetscherin, M. and Usunier, J.-C. (2012) Corporate branding: An interdisciplinary literature review. European Journal of Marketing 46 (5): 733–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fombrun, C.J. and Shanley, M. (1990) What's in a name? Reputation building and corporate strategy. The Academy of Management Journal 33 (2): 233–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Fombrun, C.J. and van Riel, C.B.M. (2003) Fame and Fortune: How Successful Companies Build Winning Reputations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  35. Gioia, D. (1998) From individual to organizational identity. In: D. Whetton and P. Godfrey (eds.) Identity in Organisations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Gyrd-Jones, R. and Kornum, N. (2013) Managing the co-created brand: Value and cultural complementarity in online and offline multi-stakeholder ecosystems. Journal of Business Research, advance online publication, 26 September, doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2012.02.045.Google Scholar
  37. Hankinson, G. (2009) Managing destination brands: Establishing a theoretical foundation. Journal of Marketing Management 25 (1/2): 97–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Harris, F. and De Chernatony, L. (2001) Corporate branding and corporate brand performance. European Journal of Marketing 35 (3/4): 441–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hatch, M.J. and Schultz, M. (1997) Relations between organizational culture, identity and image. European Journal of Marketing 31 (5/6): 356–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hatch, M.J. and Schultz, M. (2001) Are the strategic stars aligned for your corporate brand? Harvard Business Review 79 (2): 128–135.Google Scholar
  41. Hatch, M.J. and Schultz, M. (2003) Bringing the corporation into corporate branding. European Journal of Marketing 37 (7/8): 1041–1064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hatch, M.J. and Schultz, M. (2004) Organisational Identity: A Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. He, H.-W. and Balmer, J.M.T (2007) Identity studies: Multiple perspectives and implications for corporate-level marketing. European Journal of Marketing 41 (7/8): 765–785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Helm, C. and Jones, R.I. (2010) Extending the value chain: A conceptual framework for managing the governance of co-created brand equity. Journal of Brand Management 17 (8): 579–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hogan, S., Almquist, E. and Glynn, S.E. (2005) Brand-Building: Finding the touchpoints that count. Journal of Business Strategy 21 (2): 11–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ind, N. (2001) Living the Brand. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  47. Jones, R.I. (2005) Finding sources of brand value: Developing a stakeholder model of brand equity. Journal of Brand Management 13 (1): 10–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Jones, R.I. (2010) Corporate branding: The role of vision in implementing the corporate brand. Innovative Marketing 6 (1): 44–57.Google Scholar
  49. Karmark, E. (2005) Living the brand. In: M. Schultz, Y. Antorini and F. Csaba (eds.) Towards the Second Wave of Corporate Branding: Corporate Branding Purpose/People/Process. Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen Business School, pp. 103–124.Google Scholar
  50. Kelemen, M. and Papasolomou, I. (2007) Internal marketing: A qualitative study of culture change in the UK banking sector. Journal of Marketing Management 23 (7/8): 745–767.Google Scholar
  51. King, S. (1991) Brand building in the 1990s. Journal of Consumer Marketing 8 (4): 43–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Knox, S. and Bickerton, D. (2003) The six conventions of corporate branding. European Journal of Marketing 37 (7/8): 998–1016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kornberger, M. (2010) Brand Society. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Markwick, N. and Fill, C. (1997) Towards a framework for managing corporate identity. European Journal of Marketing 31 (5/6): 396–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Martin, J. (1992) Cultures in Organisations: Three Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Melewar, T.C., Gotsi, M. and Androopolous, C. (2012) Shaping the research agenda for corporate branding: avenues for future research. European Journal of Marketing 46 (5): 600–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Melewar, T.C. and Saunders, J. (1998) Global corporate visual identity systems: Standardization, control and benefits. International Marketing Review 15 (4): 291–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Merrilees, B. and Miller, D. (2010) Brand morphing across Wal-Mart customer segments. Journal of Business Research 63 (11): 1129–1134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Merrilees, B., Miller, D. and Herington, C. (2009) Antecedents of residents’ city brand attitudes. Journal of Business Research 62 (3): 362–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Miller, D. and Merrilees, B. (2013) Rebuilding community corporate brands: A total stakeholder involvement approach. Journal of Business Research 66 (2): 172–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Morhart, F., Herzog, W. and Tomczak, T. (2009) Brand-specific leadership: turning employees into brand champions. Journal of Marketing 73 (September): 122–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Muzellec, L. and Lambkin, M.C. (2009) Corporate branding and brand architecture: A conceptual framework. Marketing Theory 9 (1): 39–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. O'Driscoll, A. (2008) Exploring paradox in marketing: Managing ambiguity towards synthesis. Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 23 (2): 95–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Olins, W. (1995) The New Guide to Corporate Identity. Farnham, UK: Gower Publishing.Google Scholar
  65. Pickton, D. and Broderick, A. (2003) Integrated Marketing Communications. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  66. Pillai, A. (2012) Corporate branding literature: A research paradigm review. Journal of Brand Management 19 (4): 331–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Poole, M.S. and Van de Ven, A.H. (1989) Using paradox to build management and organisational theories. Academy of Management Review 14 (4): 562–578.Google Scholar
  68. Punjaisri, K., Evanschitzky, H. and Wilson, A. (2009) Internal branding: An enabler of employees’ brand-supporting behaviours. Journal of Service Management 20 (2): 209–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Schultz, D.E., Tannenbaum, S.I. and Lauterborn, R.F. (1993) Integrated Marketing Communications: Pulling It Together and Making It Work. Chicago, IL: NTC Business Books.Google Scholar
  70. Schultz, M. and de Chernatony, L. (2002) Introduction: The challenges of corporate branding. Corporate Reputation Review 5 (2): 105–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Schultz, M. and Hatch, M.J. (2003) The cycles of corporate branding: The case of the LEGO company. California Management Review 46 (1): 6–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Schultz, M. and Hatch, M.J. (2006) A cultural perspective on corporate branding. In: J.E. Schroeder and M. Salzer-Mörling (eds.) Brand Culture. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  73. Schultz, M., Hatch, M.J. and Larsen, M.H. (eds.) (2000) The Expressive Organisation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 51–65.Google Scholar
  74. Stride, H. and Lee, S. (2007) No logo? No way. Branding in the non-profit sector. Journal of Marketing Management 23 (1–2): 107–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sullivan Mort, G., Weerawardena, J. and Williamson, B. (2007) Branding in the nonprofit context: The case of Surf Life saving Australia. Australasian Marketing Journal 15 (2): 108–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Ulrich, D. and Smallwood, N. (2007) Building a leadership brand. Harvard Business Review 85 (7–8): 93–100.Google Scholar
  77. Urde, M. (1999) Brand orientation: A mindset for building brands into strategic resources. Journal of Marketing Management 15: 117–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Urde, M. (2003) Core value-based corporate brand building. European Journal of Marketing 37 (7/8): 1017–1040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Urde, M. (2009) Uncovering the corporate brand's core values. Management Decision 47 (4): 616–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Urde, M., Baumgarth, C. and Merrilees, B. (2013) Brand orientation and market orientation: From alternatives to synergy. Journal of Business Research 66 (1): 13–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Urde, M., Greyser, S.A. and Balmer, J.M.T. (2007) Corporate brands with a heritage. Journal of Brand Management 15 (1): 4–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Vallaster, C. and de Chernatony, L. (2006) Internationalisation of services brands: The role of brand leadership during the internal brand building process. Journal of Marketing Management 21 (1/2): 181–203.Google Scholar
  83. Vallaster, C. and Lindgreen, A. (2011) Corporate brand strategy formation: Brand actors and the situational context for a business-to-business brand. Industrial Marketing Management 40 (7): 1133–1143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wallpach, S. and Woodside, A. (2009) Enacted internal branding: Theory, practice and an experiential learning case study of an Austrian B2B company. In: M.S. Glynn and A. Woodside (eds.) Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing, Vol 15: Business-to-Business Brand Management: Theory, Research and Executive Case Study Exercises. Bingley, UK: JAI Press, pp. 398–428.Google Scholar
  85. Weick, K. (1976) Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems. Administrative Science Quarterly 21 (1): 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Gyrd-Jones
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bill Merrilees
    • 1
  • Dale Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MarketingCopenhagen Business SchoolDenmark

Personalised recommendations