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Book cover: Research in Consumer Behavior

Research in Consumer Behavior

ISSN: 0885-2111
Series editor(s): Professor Russell W. Belk

Subject Area: Marketing

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The strategic use of brand biographies

Document Information:
Title:The strategic use of brand biographies
Author(s):Jill Avery, Neeru Paharia, Anat Keinan, Juliet B. Schor
Volume:12 Editor(s): Russell W. Belk ISBN: 978-0-85724-443-7 eISBN: 978-0-85724-444-4
Citation:Jill Avery, Neeru Paharia, Anat Keinan, Juliet B. Schor (2010), The strategic use of brand biographies, in Russell W. Belk (ed.) 12 (Research in Consumer Behavior, Volume 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.213-229
DOI:10.1108/S0885-2111(2010)0000012011 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item

Purpose – We introduce the concept of a brand biography to describe an emerging trend in branding in which firms author a dynamic, historical account of the events that have shaped the brand over time. Using a particular type of brand biography, “the underdog,” we empirically show how managers can strategically use brand biographies in brand positioning, in this case to mitigate the curse of success. As brands grow and become successful, they are often marked by the negative stigma associated with size and power, which elicits anticorporate sentiment from consumers. An underdog brand biography can be strategically wielded to prevent or offset anticorporate backlash stemming from consumers’ negative perceptions of firms’ size and/or market power.

Methodology/approach – Lab experiments.

Findings – We find an underdog effect: consumers like and prefer brands with underdog brand biographies because they identify with them. We show that an underdog brand biography can mitigate the curse of success by making large firms more attractive to consumers.

Practical implications – Firms can use brand biographies to weave compelling narratives about their brands that help protect them from negative consumer attitudes and actions.

Originality/value of the chapter – Extant branding theory has a dearth of theoretical constructs and frameworks that allow for the dynamism and evolution of brands over time. Through our observation and study of emerging marketplace branding practices, we have identified a new construct, the brand biography, to complement existing theoretical frameworks for understanding brand meaning.

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