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The research question for the study is:
How do corporate heritage brands resolve the tension between brand heritage and innovation?
The qualitative research strategy contrasts brand heritage management across five corporate heritage brands. The multiple case study approach is consistent with the research objectives, enabling the examination of brand paradox across different industry contexts. Data collection
used semi-structured interviews. Criteria for case selection were the heritage identity traits:
longevity, a degree of continuity in the brand’s core values and brand promise, responsiveness to change and an organisational recognition that brand heritage was significant to the corporate brand’s identity (Balmer, 2011b, 2013; Urde et al, 2007). Five cases met the selection criteria (Table 1).
Data Collection and Analysis Semi-structured interviews were designed to capture the complexities of governing corporate brands over time, and they related to brand continuity and renewal. The interview protocol enhanced consistency across interviews while allowing for flexibility (Yin 2009). All interviewees were senior leaders with extensive corporate brand knowledge. Data analysis used thematic analysis, after Braun and Clarke (2006). The ‘structured and diverse lenses’, adopted through the layered analyses, improved the accuracy and reliability of the theory, which it generated (Eisenhardt 1989, 541). A close fit ‘is important to building good theory because it takes advantage of the new insights possible from the data and yields an empirically valid theory’ (Eisenhardt, 1989, 541).
Findings The findings are presented in four dominant themes: remaining true to the authentic core of the corporate brand; embracing change; maintaining relevance, and innovation and design.
Together, the components provide insight and guidance for the management of the brand paradox in the corporate heritage brand context.
Remaining True to the Authentic Core Remaining true to an authentic core was significant to the management of brand paradox for the corporate heritage brands. Diligent governance of the brands’ authentic core was integral to the integrity and authenticity of brand essence. Percy Marks and Tyrrell’s placed the greatest emphasis on protecting brand authenticity through the constancy of brand essence.
For Percy Marks, the constancy of the brand’s values was a principal concern for leaders in protecting the brand’s authentic essence. Although the ‘brand values don’t change’ (Leader, Percy Marks), in response to shifting societal values, leaders strategically shifted the emphases on which core values were salient to stakeholders.
Embracing Change Embracing change was a second important aspect of brand paradox management for corporate heritage brands. All cases demonstrated a desire to embrace change. They created the impetus for change by maintaining and developing strategic information processes including monitoring and market research. However, how the cases embraced change, varied.
Rodd & Gunn, and Paspaley were the most willing to embrace change. One Rodd & Gunn Leader drew on ‘an old saying that if you don’t change, you die with your youngest customer’ to stress that Rodd & Gunn are constantly pushing ‘the boundaries, but in a way that is ‘still within your core values’.
Maintaining Relevance Relevance was integral for managing brand paradox. Across all cases, leaders emphasised the importance of relevance and enacting change in a particular way. The corporate heritage brands developed relevance through evolutionary change on two key levels: ongoing improvements to the brand’s core, and purposeful peripheral adjustments. Paspaley, Rodd & Gunn, and Tyrrell’s were particularly strong at managing brand paradox through relevance.
To illustrate, Tyrrell’s leaders refuse to comply with industry trends that would compromise the brand’s authentic essence, favouring purposeful changes with a strong element of ‘timelessness’ for lasting relevance.
Innovation and Design The extent that the corporate brands engaged in activities of exploration, collaboration and experimentation, influenced the expression of brand innovation. Tyrrell’s and Paspaley were particularly strong at managing and operationalising brand innovation. Archival research was an important creative input for Tyrrell’s, stimulating organisational creativity and generating important renewal outcomes for the corporate brand.
Design innovation is a special form of innovation, and a particularly important aspect in brand paradox management for the corporate heritage brands. It is a valuable tool in leveraging brand heritage, the purpose of which is to imbue the brand’s past with meaning and salience to engage contemporary stakeholders. Paspaley and the Huka Lodge were especially strong in design innovation. Paspaley used design to exceed consumer expectations and the Huka Lodge used design to ‘celebrate’ the brand’s heritage. Huka Lodge’s unique interior design is the platform for the delivery of a ‘phenomenal’ luxury experience with a distinct ‘mythological’ quality. The design of the Huka Lodge ‘reflects’ the brand’s heritage but with a ‘slightly modern twist’.
Theoretical implications The paper’s main theoretical contribution is resolving the tension between heritage and innovation, explaining how to manage continuity and change to enhance the corporate brand and its heritage. The main finding was the essential need to embrace change, evident in all of the corporate heritage brands. Building on that change platform, three different approaches unified the delicate handling of change. Specifically, corporate heritage brands pay particular attention to: (1) remaining true to the authentic core; (2) maintaining relevance; and (3) innovating, especially using design innovation. Approaches 2 and 3 take the brand into the future, but always connected in some way to heritage values. Approach 1, remaining true to the authentic core, remained the essential anchor to change, thus resolving the paradox.
Practical implications The study contributes to branding practice, with a set of principles to guide and empower corporate heritage brand managers to resolve the tension between innovation and heritage.
Limitations The five corporate heritage brands offer evidence supporting the resolution of brand paradox through strategic brand management. However, further research could contrast corporate heritage brands with other brand types, to provide more insight into the phenomenon.
Originality/value This paper presents original research to redress the limited attempts to resolve the inherent paradox between brand heritage and innovation in the corporate heritage band context. The resolution is through strategic brand management with specific attention to the advancement of brand heritage.
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Updating logo: Impact of seniority with the brand, brand attachment and surprise on logo perception Cuny, Caroline Fornerino, Marianela Grobert, Julien Purpose of paper The current research aims to understand how a logo’s change impacts current and future customers’ conscious and unconscious brand perceptions in the context of a real change.
It is well known that brand managers need to be cautious when modifying logos. Even though research argues that updated logos might have a positive impact on consumers, rebranding through a change of the logo can be a perilous strategy causing serious damage to brand loyalty and equity (Ellwood, 2006; Gotsi and Andriopoulos, 2007; Hatch and Schultz, 2003).
Because logos are one of the main instruments to communicate image, gain attention, increase recognition and differentiation of the brand as well as a means of provoking an emotional response (Aaker, 1991; Henderson and Cote, 1998; Kapferer, 1997; Melewar et al., 2005; Pittard et al., 2007), their modification has to be carefully thought, planned and operationalized. According to Keller (2003), a logo is among the most powerful brand elements due to its impact on brand knowledge and, consequently, brand equity; impairing those would have dramatic effects on brand.
In particular, brand attachment, familiarity or seniority with the brand, could affect the perception of a new logo for an existing brand. Previous research showed that highly engaged customers demonstrated the most negative perception of a logo’s change (Walsh, Winterich and Mittal, 2010). This change could “spoil the image created through past investments” by the brand (Keller, 2005, in Müller, Kocher and Crettaz, 2013, p.83).
Moreover, if this change creates some surprise in people’s mind, this could induce avoidance or approach to the new logo. Some authors even spoke about “hostility” (Kapferer, 2008).
Based on the above reasons, in the context of a real logo change, the present study aimed at:
1. Investigating the impact of brand attachment, familiarity and seniority on perceived congruency between the logo and the brand, and on the implicit associations between the logo and the brand qualities. 2. Investigating the effect of surprise on perceived congruency between the logo and the brand and the preference of the new vs. old logo.
Methodology Because Grenoble Ecole de Management just changed its logo in 2014, 242 GEM students
participated in the study. They were separated according to their seniority with the school:
either students from the last year program – current students (n=123) or eligible students for the entrance to 1st year program - entrants (n=119).
Each participant had to 1. Choose a reward as a polo shirt among two displaying either the new or the old school logo, 2. Realize a lexical decision task with a priming phase during which the new and old logo was displayed, and 3. Answer a questionnaire after having been exposed either to the new or the old logo.