Authenticity and the Corporate Brand Saga
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This dissertation analyzes what a corporate brand is and what motivates it. Using qualitative methods the corporate brand of IBM is investigated from the viewpoint of many of its stakeholders. It is discovered that IBM’s corporate brand is outside the control of IBM, and is a social construction of IBM and its stakeholders. It is a special type of story – a saga – to which not only the company contributes to the storyline, but also its stakeholders. As such, the corporate brand is a dynamic process driven along by IBM’s attempt to be authentic. That is, as IBM shapes its identity in response to the expectations of its stakeholders, and tries to be true to its identity, it is constantly changing. From this process the corporate brand emerges and is propelled and motivated by the force of authenticity. These findings contribute to the marketing literature by providing a revised view of the corporate brand. Not only does this have theoretical implications, but it also significantly changes how managers deal with and try to manage their corporate brands as they now recognize that they are only one of the contributors to the ongoing saga.