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Journal cover: Corporate Communications: An International Journal

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Online from: 1996

Subject Area: Marketing

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Corporate heritage brands: Mead's theory of the past

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Title:Corporate heritage brands: Mead's theory of the past
Author(s):Bradford T. Hudson, (School of Hospitality Administration, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), John M.T. Balmer, (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, London, UK)
Citation:Bradford T. Hudson, John M.T. Balmer, (2013) "Corporate heritage brands: Mead's theory of the past", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 18 Iss: 3, pp.347 - 361
Keywords:Authenticity, Brands, Heritage, History, Identity, Nostalgia
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/CCIJ-Apr-2012-0027 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the mechanisms of consumer behaviour relating to corporate heritage brands. The aim is to clarify the internal logic of the brand heritage concept, and to build on the extant literature to provide a solid foundation for further scholarship regarding corporate heritage brands.

Design/methodology/approach – This conceptual paper adapts a theory about the role of the past in human behaviour, which was first developed by the pioneering sociologist George Herbert Mead, to the realm of consumer behaviour and heritage brands. The authors illustrate several principles in practice and develop a framework based on a taxonomy of heritage effects. The analysis offers clarification about the relationship of this framework to a variety of historically-related topics in prior literature, including authenticity and nostalgia.

Findings – This paper explains why and how corporate heritage brands appeal to consumers. The authors suggest that brand heritage encourages the engagement of consumers with the history of the brand, or the engagement of consumers with history through the brand. The former is operative in defining the identity of the brand alone, while the latter is also operative in defining the identity of the consumer.

Practical implications – Executives and consultants may use the framework to recognise and classify different types of heritage phenomena, and thereby develop more effective corporate communications for older companies.

Originality/value – This is the first time that the Mead theory has been applied to corporate heritage brands.

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