Revisiting the complexities of corporate branding: Issues, paradoxes, solutions
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The evolution of corporate branding literature since the seminal paper by Balmer (EJM, 2001) is evaluated. The literature exhibits signs of maturing which is evidenced by multiple theoretical underpinnings and a widening scope. Four themes are identified: (1) corporate brand as differentiation; (2) as corporate communication; (3) as a values-based approach; and (4) internal branding approaches. We give special attention to issues of corporate communication, corporate identity, corporate vision, multiple stakeholders, alignment, multiple voices, corporate values and organisational culture. The themes are examined through a "paradox" lens. Each theme is discussed in terms of the theoretical challenges arising from complexities in that aspect of corporate branding, ensuing apparent paradoxes and possible solutions for each paradox. The paradoxes are not treated as an aberration, but rather are useful as a foundation for developing theory in corporate branding. We believe that these are natural conditions in a complex area involving multiple external and internal stakeholders. The aim is to reconstruct corporate branding theory through greater sensitivity to complex nuances. The four areas of solutions to specific paradoxes assist both theory development and corporate branding practice.
Journal of Brand Management