Principles of Corporate Rebranding

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Principles of corporate
rebranding

Principles of
corporate
rebranding

Bill Merrilees and Dale Miller
Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia Abstract
Purpose – The paper aims to highlight the importance of corporate rebranding in branding practice, which is neglected in theoretical treatment, so an extended theory is to be developed. Design/methodology/approach – From the literature, the existing state of the theory of corporate rebranding is articulated. That theory is extended by the development of six principles and by case research. The principles are illustrated in the case of a Canadian leather goods retailer which has implemented a major corporate rebranding strategy. The paper demonstrates the value of organisational single case studies as a precursor to further research. Findings – The single case enables a more in-depth analysis of how branding principles were applied to corporate rebranding. All six principles were supported, indicating the need for maintaining core values and cultivating the brand, linking the existing brand with the revised brand, targeting new segments, getting stakeholder “buy-in”, achieving alignment of brand elements and the importance of promotion in awareness building.

Originality/value – Although corporate rebranding is often used narrowly in practice as renaming, this paper redresses the limited attempts to build theory in this area of marketing. It attempts to build a more sophisticated and substantial theory of corporate rebranding.

537
Received April 2006
Revised November 2006
Accepted March 2007

Keywords Brands, Corporate branding, Innovation, Case studies Paper type Research paper

Introduction
Rebranding is ubiquitous in branding practice. Corporate rebranding, in its many facets of brand renewal, refreshment, makeover, reinvention, renaming and repositioning, dominates marketing trade magazines. However, few academic studies explicitly discuss corporate rebranding. Four prominent case studies have been combined to represent the current theory of corporate rebranding. The paper’s first contribution is an integrated articulation of corporate rebranding theory, which is then extended by the conceptualisation of a six-principle schema for rebranding. Case research with a Canadian retailer validates the principles, and general lessons are drawn.

Literature review
In corporate branding, major classic works include Olins (1978, 1994), Gregory (1991), Dowling (1994), Fombrun (1996) and Ind (1997). Although invaluable and creative, they tend to follow a relatively traditional marketing communication and planning framework. More recent books (Balmer and Greyser, 2003; Olins, 2003; Ind, 2004; Schultz et al., 2005; Schroeder and Salzer-Morling, 2006; de Chernatony, 2006) have focused on nuances such as living the brand, the role of experiences and internal branding. Recent special issues of journals on the topic have extended the debate

European Journal of Marketing
Vol. 42 No. 5/6, 2008
pp. 537-552
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0309-0566
DOI 10.1108/03090560810862499

EJM
42,5/6

538

(Schultz and de Chernatony, 2002; Balmer, 2003; Balmer et al., 2006; Melewar and Karaosmanoglu, 2006).
Although we refer to corporate brands, very similar properties apply to organisational brands, service brands (Berry, 2000; de Chernatony and Segal-Horn, 2003; de Chernatony et al., 2005) and retailer brands (Birtwistle and Freathy, 1998; Burt and Sparks, 2002; Davies and Chun, 2002; Merrilees and Fry, 2002; Ailawadi and Keller, 2004), with a high degree of interchangeability across the terms. One way of summarising the corporate brand literature is to contrast the nature of corporate brands with product brands. Firstly, the organisation features more strongly and explicitly in corporate brands (Hatch and Schultz, 2003)....
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