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Internal Brand Building

Internal Brand Building

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Published by Mona Mica
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Published by: Mona Mica on Dec 01, 2012
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Internal brand building andstructuration: the role ofleadership
Christine Vallaster
 Marketing Department, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany, and 
Leslie de Chernatony
 Birmingham Business School, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK 
Abstract
Purpose
The paper aims to clarify the relationship between organisational structures andindividual brand supporting behaviour. It proposes modelling the social transformation process andoutlining why and how leadership is important throughout the internal brand building process. Thestudy aims to expand the domain of corporate branding by including a broader range of humanresource and leadership-related aspects than is normally found in the branding literature.
Design/methodology/approach
The paper opted for an exploratory study using the open-endedapproach of grounded theory, including 30 depth interviews and one expert group discussion withemployees representing middle and senior management having mainly a marketing and corporatecommunications background. The data were complemented by documentary analysis, includingbrand documents, descriptions of internal processes, and copies of employee magazine articles.
Findings
– The paper provides empirical insights about how change is brought about duringinternal brand building. It suggests that successful leaders act as “integrating forces” on two levels:integrating the elements of corporate identity structures, and mediating between the corporatebranding structures and the individual.
Research limitations/implications
– Because of the chosen research approach, the researchresults may lack generalisability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the proposedpropositions further.
Practical implications
The paper includes implications for the development of a powerful brandimage, the development of “brand ambassadors” and for managing the balance between stability andchange.
Originality/value
– This paper fulfils an identified need to study how brand-supportive behaviourcan be enabled.
Keywords
Brand management, Corporate branding, Leadership, Social change
Paper type
Research paper
1. Introduction
Internal brand building as a process to align staff’s behaviour with a corporate brand’sidentity is receiving increasing attention (e.g. de Chernatony, 2001; Keller, 1999; LePlaand Parker, 1999; Macrae, 1996; Mitchell, 2002; Tosti and Stotz, 2001). In order toreduce the gap between the desired corporate brand identity and that perceived by thecompany’s stakeholders (e.g. Urde, 1994; Harris and de Chernatony, 2001; Balmer andSoenen, 1999), it is frequently pointed out that employees play a crucial role.Brand-consistent behaviour supports the development of a coherent brand image, andis considered one of the crucial success factors in corporate brand management.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Internal brandbuilding
761
Received October 2004Revised March andNovember 2005Accepted December 2005
European Journal of MarketingVol. 40 No. 7/8, 2006pp. 761-784
q
Emerald Group Publishing Limited0309-0566DOI 10.1108/03090560610669982
 
Despite this interest, the discussion of how brand-supportive behaviour can beachieved remains mainly normative.Corporate structures have been identified as a driving force to enable employeesbehave in a manner which achieve strategic goals (Hatch and Schultz, 2001).Structures are defined as the resources and rules employees draw upon everyworking day (Giddens, 1979). The corporate branding literature frequently pointsout that company structures, expressed by corporate identity, are forces tosuccessfully merge the corporate culture with management processes and systems,so that organisational thinking, behaviour and corporate design are aligned withcorporate culture (e.g. Balmer and Greyser, 2002; Balmer and Gray, 2003; Rode,2004; Birkigt
et al.
, 1993). In detail, the artefacts associated with corporate culture(Ind, 1997), symbolic graphic design (e.g. Sarasin, 1993), corporate behaviour(Lingenfelder and Spitzer, 1987; Daft and Noe, 2001), and internal corporatecommunication (Balmer and Gray, 1999) support the integration of individuals’behaviour with the desired brand identity.Despite the contribution of structures helping align individuals’ behaviour withthe defined corporate brand identity, structural conditions are open for individual(mis-)interpretation due to different employees’ perceptions. As such, drawing onOrtmann and Sydow (2001), corporate branding structures may not be able tofacilitate consistent individual brand behaviour. The question remains as to how toalign individual behaviours with the desired brand identity. We believe thatleaders throughout the organisation should play a crucial role in two ways: First,they are responsible for coherently and consistently defining and driving acorporate brand’s identity. Second, leaders mediate between organisationalstructures and individuals. By doing so, leadership facilitates internal brandbuilding through initiating and facilitating behavioural changes consistent with thedesired brand identity.The objectives of this paper are twofold. Drawing on the philosophical principles of Giddens’ structuration theory, it seeks to clarify the relationship betweenorganisational structures and individual brand supporting behaviour. We seek tobuild on these concepts, complementing the framework with Archer’s (1995) work onmorphogenetics, to model the social transformation process to understand why andhow leadership is important throughout the internal brand building process. As part of these objectives we considered the implications of temporal dynamics on themanagement of corporate brands, which we believe are not adequately addressed inthe marketing literature. Our work expanded the domain of corporate branding toinclude a broader range of human resource and leadership-related aspects thannormally found in the branding literature.The paper opens by presenting a framework regarding the key factors in internalbrand building, i.e. corporate branding structures, the individual, leadership and thechange inherent in internal brand building. Building on structuration theory, we offer aconceptual framework for understanding the influence of corporate structures andleadership on individual behaviour. Subsequently, the research data gained throughqualitative research is presented. The insights serve as the basis for developing ourpropositions regarding the role of structures and leadership during internal brandbuilding. The paper concludes with directions for future research.
EJM40,7/8
762
 
2. Structuration and internal brand building
One of the aims of internal brand building is aligning individuals’ behaviours with thebrand’s espoused identity (Tosti and Stotz, 2001). An impressive body of corporatebranding literature has added credence to the view that structures, expressed bycorporate identity, facilitate the integration of individuals’ behaviours with the desiredbrand promise (Balmer and Gray, 2003; de Chernatony, 2001; Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 2000; LePla and Parker, 1999; Hatch and Schultz, 2001). However, asOrtmann and Sydow (2001) observe, the problem remains of forecasting the extent towhich structures bring about the required change processes. To provide furtherinsights to this problem we draw on the structuration theory of Giddens (1976, 1979,1984a, b) as our starting point.
 2.1. Developing a structurationist framework: corporate branding structures, leadershipand internal brand building 
Adopting Giddens’ (1979, 1984b) structuration theory as a “sensitizing device”, wedefine corporate branding structures as rules and resources which employees can drawon to appreciate how they should act in a brand supporting manner.Crucial to the idea of structuration is that structure is both the medium and outcomeof the day-to-day conduct in which actors engage. Social systems reproduce relationsbetween the organisation’s actors. However, actors do not create social systems, theyreproduce or transform them in the continuous flow of conduct, drawing on structuralfeatures of social systems.Structural properties of social systems place limits upon the options open to anactor, which vary according to contexts. In this sense, structure is both enabling andconstraining, in virtue of the inherent relation between structure and agency. Forinstance, an organisation’s corporate culture defines the corporate brand identity andstandards for individual behaviour. If relevant, corporate culture should enhance theconsistency of brand supporting behaviour (Rode, 2004; de Chernatony, 2001; Hatchand Schultz, 2001), by defining vision and brand goals of the organisations. At thesame time, corporate culture should also prevent brand-inadequate behaviour. Anotherexample is corporate design, which embraces all the visual aspects of the corporatebrand (Ind, 1992; Sarasin, 1993). This is usually specified in brand manuals, staff design brand communications. In this sense, corporate design enables brand consistentcommunication yet restricts employees’ creativity.The “link” between interaction and structure is constituted by “modalities of structuration” i.e. the rules of legitimation, signification and resources of domination.Actors draw upon the modalities of structuration, reconstituting their structuralproperties, thereby modifying social structures. In the same way as formal andinformal communications across all levels and functions help minimisemiscomprehension about the brand’s promise (Thomson
et al.
, 1999), the brandpromise at the same time contributes to the reproduction of brand supportingcommunication.Figure 1 depicts Giddens’s (1984a) theory and identifies its key conceptual elementsin the language of structuration theory. Structure is the framework for organisinginteraction through signification, domination (control), and legitimation (moralauthority). Interaction involves communication and the exercise of power andsanctions. The relationships between the elements of interaction and structure are
Internal brandbuilding
763

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