|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (December 2012)|
Corporate branding is the practice of using a company's name as a product brand name. It is an attempt to use corporate brand equity to create product brand recognition. It is a type of family branding or umbrella brand. Disney, for example, includes the word "Disney" in the name of many of its products; other examples include IBM and Heinz. This strategy contrasts with individual product branding, where each product has a unique brand name and the corporate name is not promoted to the consumer.
Corporate branding can result in significant economies of scope since one advertising campaign can be used for several products. It also facilitates new product acceptance because potential buyers are already familiar with the name. However, this strategy may hinder the creation of distinct brand images or identities for different products: an overarching corporate brand reduces the ability to position a brand with an individual identity, and may conceal different products' unique characteristics.
Corporate branding is not limited to a specific mark or name. Branding can incorporate multiple touchpoints. These touchpoints include; logo, customer service, treatment and training of employees, packaging, advertising, stationery, and quality of products and services. Any means by which the general public comes into contact with a specific brand constitutes a touchpoint that can affect perceptions of the corporate brand.
It has been argued that successful corporate branding often stems from a strong coherence between what the company’s top management seek to accomplish (their strategic vision), what the company’s employees know and believe (lodged in its organizational culture), and how its external stakeholders perceived the company (their image of it). Misalignments between these three factors, may indicate an underperforming corporate brand. This type of corporate brand analysis has been labeled the Vision-Culture-Image (VCI) Alignment Model.
Changes in stakeholder expectations are causing an increasing number of corporations to integrate marketing, communications and corporate social responsibility into corporate branding. This trend is evident in campaigns such as IBM Smarter Planet, G.E. Ecomagination, The Coca-Cola Company Live Positively, and DOW Human Element. As never before, people care about the corporation behind the product. They do not separate their opinions about the company from their opinions of that company's products or services. This blending of corporate and product/service opinions is due to increasing corporate transparency, which gives stakeholders a deeper, clearer view into a corporation's actual behavior and actual performance. Transparency is, in part, a byproduct of the digital revolution, which has enabled stakeholders—employees, retirees, customers, business partners, supply chain partners, investors, neighbors—with the ability to share opinion about corporations via social media.
- MJ Hatch & M Schultz, Taking Brand Initiative: How Companies Can Align Their Strategy, Culture and Identity Through Corporate Branding (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2008).
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