Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Re-Examining the Meaning of Corporate Branding: Does Corporate Advertising Give Useful Insights?

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Re-Examining the Meaning of Corporate Branding: Does Corporate Advertising Give Useful Insights?

Article excerpt


The notion of corporate branding has, in the last two decades, attracted the interest of academics and practitioners (Abratt and Kleyn, 2012; Fetscherin and Usunier, 2012; de Roeck et al., 2013; Balmer, 2014; Melewar and Alwi, 2015 and Melewar et al., 2017). An important issue emerging from the unprecedented rise in interest in this concept is the disagreement concerning its meaning. On the one hand, corporate branding is conceived as a phenomenon that addresses the communication of cues to create a favorable reputation among stakeholders (Brønn, 2002); and on the other, it is a phenomenon that comes to life through the interplay of vision, culture and image, held by stakeholders (Hatch and Schultz, 2001). The disagreement is further made evident if one considers de Chernatony's (1999) conception of the subject, which states: "It is a strategic tool for a clear positioning. It facilitates greater cohesion in communication programs, enables staff to better understand the type of organization they work for, and thus provides inspiration about desired styles of behavior".

Another perspective that equally challenges existing viewpoints is that of Balmer and Greyser (2003), which conceives the concept as an 'explicit covenant' that exists between business organizations and their stakeholders (Balmer and Greyser, 2003). Similarly, Argenti and Druckenmiller's (2004) and Ind's (1997) opinions challenged existing viewpoints by arguing that corporate branding is a phenomenon that comes to life when a business organization is marketed as a brand. Importantly, the variety of ways in which the meaning of corporate branding is constructed in literature reflects the discord and disagreement that envelopes the discipline. It appears that failure to achieve a universal agreement on the subject might have, in addition to other factors, encouraged the development of a number of papers on the subject (see, for instance, de Chernatony, 2006; and Kärreman and Rylander, 2008).

Although these studies offer a better theoretical platform for understanding the subject, it however, appears that no agreement has been reached, even in the aftermath of these publications. Perhaps the way forward is to take the debate one step further to accommodate the deconstruction of organizational viewpoints, which are often concealed in corporate communication texts such as corporate advertisements. Texts of this nature often generate meanings (Phillips and Brown, 1993), especially among stakeholders, when deconstructed.

Against this backdrop, the objective of this study is to examine how the deconstruction of corporate communication materials such as corporate advertisements offers an insight into what corporate branding truly means. A related objective is to develop a synthesis, which integrates a variety of similar but fragmented theoretical viewpoints on the subject. The aim here is to reduce the confusion that besets the meaning of this concept. The paper also attempts to gauge customer interpretation of these advertisements.

The paper opens with a review of literature on the meaning of corporate branding. This is followed by the development of an interpretive methodology composed of semiotic method and interpretive interviews with bank customers. Data analysis based on semiotic and interpretive interview methods is deployed. The paper discusses the findings and ends with a discourse on the implications, limitations and future direction of the study.

The Meaning of Corporate Branding: A Literature Review

Contributions to the meaning of corporate branding in academic literature can be theorized along what could be called 'narrow' and 'broad' discourses.

The narrow discourse provides a framework for aggregating perceived beliefs, phenomenological opinions and observable standpoints put forward in academic literature to describe and explain the notion of corporate branding on the spine of a sentence or a statement. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.