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2.2 Brand Identity

2.2.3 Contemporary debates in brand identity

50 De Chernatony's (1999) identity-reputation gap model of brand management,

focused more on the organisational frame of reference for brand identity, and

although did not provide the detail of Aakers (1996) twelve elements, did complement the discussion on the core and extended brand identity by identifying that brand identity consists of several components: vision and culture, aligned to the core brand identity of Aaker (1996), and then the desired positioning, personality, representation and subsequent relationships, which coincide with Aakers (1996) extended brand identity.

51 However the evolution of the brand management process means the traditionally held notions of brand identity are being challenged. An emerging literature stream is opposing the traditional approaches to identity (e.g da Silveira et al. 2013; Iglesias et al. 2013; von Wallpach et al. 2017). This body of literature argues that brand identity is not stable and is not solely determined by internal stakeholders; instead it is fluid and constantly adapting (Csaba and Bengtsson 2006). Brand meaning incorporates both brand identity and brand image and can be viewed as stakeholders' subjective interpretations of the identity (von Wallpach et al. 2017). According to Feldwick (2002) brand meaning is made up of the accumulation of associations and beliefs that a consumer has about a brand. Vallaster and von Wallpach (2013) discuss that brand meaning is open to constant negotiation and dialogue by multiple stakeholders and as a result is in a state of flux, constantly evolving (Iglesias and Bonet 2012;

Merz et al. 2009). This suggests that brand identity is not constructed just by managers, but emerges through dynamic interactions involving a multiplicity of stakeholders (Butler 2010). Recent research positions brand identities as dynamic constructs, changing with the environment (von Wallpach et al. 2017). Da Silveira et al. 2013, argues for the need for identity to be context dependent, with the ability for it to be enduring and in doing so have a need to change over time. This presentation of brand identity as a dynamic concept aligns with the understanding of identity from other theoretical fields of sociology (Goffman 1959, 1967), psychology with the Social Identity Theory (Tajifel and Turner 1979), organisational studies and corporate

branding (Balmer 2008; Gioia, Price, Hamilton and Thomas 2010). Literature from organisational studies (Hatch and Schultz 2002) and identity theory (Jenkins 2014) view identity as a relational construct that is continuously changing, taking into account interactions with a number of different stakeholders. These perspectives

52 challenge the view that an enduring brand identity is one that is static and unchanged over time, fixed regardless to any changes in the environmental context, yet instead it is agile, maintaining core values, yet with continuous (partial) adjustments in

alignment with environmental changes. This questions the traditional thinking that brand management consists of actions that deliberately maintain the consistency of the brand identity over time. Instead it advocates that brand identity is fluid and although it may originate in thinking from inside an organisation, its development and meaning takes place by continuous interplay between insiders and outsiders. Da Silveria et al. (2011) also suggests that the dynamic nature of brand identity is interrelated with the evolving market domain, by which contributions and

collaborations among managers, employees, consumers, and other stakeholder groups are increasingly prevalent (Ind 2015). Empowered by new social media, a continuous interplay of stakeholders (Hillebrand, Driessen and Knoll 2015) engages in networked interactions and co-create brands. This means that internal and

external stakeholders have a role to play in co-creating brand identity. This academic argument challenges the traditional view that brand identity is the protected remit of the company, advocating that brand identity is now increasingly negotiated between internal and external stakeholders – a stakeholder approach to brand identity co- creation (Merz et al. 2009). Brands are viewed as no longer the product of

managerial efforts only (Csaba and Bengtsson 2006; da Silveiria et al. 2013). See Table 1 which summarises the key academic perspectives and themes on brand identity, showing how understanding has evolved, with a shift in argument viewing brand identity as an organisational only remit to one that is involving the organisation and stakeholders.

53 Academic source Perspectives of brand


Key themes

Kapferer (1992) Image is on the receiver’s side…Identity is on the sender’s side. The sender’s duty is to specify the

meaning, intention, vocation of the brand.

Remit of the organisation

Aaker (1996) A unique set of associations that the brand strategist aspires to create or maintain

Remit of the organisation

De Chernatony (1999) Identity is about the ethos, aims and values that present a sense of individuality differentiating the brand i.e firm centred

Remit of the organisation

Nandan (2005) Brand identity originates from the company i.e a company is responsible for creating a differentiated product with unique features

Remit of the organisation

Da Silveira et al. (2013) dynamic concept that originates among insiders, and develops through mutually influencing inputs from insiders and outsiders, entailing distinguishing, central, and enduring attributes,

Developed through interplay with those inside AND outside the organisation

Ind and Schmidt (2019) An ever-evolving

connotation, rooted in a brand’s history, philosophy, practices and ambitions but subject to constant mediation and re-interpretation as its meaning is co-created by a brand’s stakeholders

Developed through interplay with those inside AND outside the organisation

Table 1: key academic perspectives and themes on brand identity

However, even the strongest advocates of the new approach to brand identity

creation (Ind and Schmidt 2019) recognise that some preservation and stability of the core identity is needed:


“even if brand identity is open to the influence of consumers and other stakeholders, it is necessary to preserve a stable sense of self….The implication is that managers need to understand and maintain the core of the brand identity, while allowing stakeholders to elaborate and enrich it.” (p.171)

It can also be argued that Da Siveira et al. (2011) view of an evolving brand identity does have roots in the earlier core literature from Aaker (1996) and De Chernatony (1999) which did incorporate adjustments to brand identity in their thinking in relation to the extended brand identity. In the work of Harris and De Chernatony (2001) they identified that some values, values being a key part of the core identity, may be inappropriate for continued success (Deal and Kennedy 1982), and that more

innovative companies nurture and adapt their core values to changing circumstances without compromising them (Collins and Porras 1996). Brand identity management needs to understand how much change can occur, whilst ultimately remaining true to the core brand associations (Shoemaker and Tobia 2018).

Although a number of conceptual brand identity frameworks exist, none yet take into full account the co-creation debate. There are several traditional brand identity models, devised by both academia and practitioners that provide help in developing and managing brand identity (see appendix 4 for summary of key academic brand identity models). The ones that have particular strength in academia include Aakers (1996) ‘Brand Identity System’, Kapferers (1992) ‘Brand Identity Prism’, De

Chertonatony (1999) ‘Brand Identity Model’, and in practice, Unilevers Brand Identity Key has particular resonance (Unilever 2004). Even more recent work by Urde (2016) and Greyser and Urde (2019) with the ‘Corporate Brand Identity Matrix’, only take into consideration how the organisation wants their brand to be, both from an internal perspective and how its externally perceived, yet does not account for any

55 stakeholder involvement. Kapferers (1992), Aakers (1996), De Chernatony (1999) and Greyser and Urde (2019) brand identity models fail to discuss the influence by other stakeholders who actively participate in the creation of the brand identity.

Aakers 1996 work is rooted in an individualistic perspective, with the different facets being mainly brand centered. Kapferers 1992 identity prism adopts a management focus, and although it requires consideration to other stakeholders, through the elements such as self-image, it falls short of a reciprocal relationship between stakeholders.