Proposal preview

Branding through history

Brands and the branding process evolved over time and across categories (products, sectors, areas) and geographical/cultural areas. In the age of globalization, brands are at the core of market processes and branding is a pillar of corporate strategy and marketing practice. Not by chance the number of studies on this topic rapidly grew up in the last decade in scholarly and practitioner journals across different fields of research such as sociology, economic geography, business history, history, marketing, management and organization. According to this new literature strand, history and the “use of the past” as both a narrative and an intangible asset, emerged as cornerstones of the branding process. In particular, new studies in brand management featured the use of the past as a starting point of “cultural” strategies used on the one hand to revive “sleeping beauty” brands, by re-articulating brand’s heritage, and on the other to relaunch historical brands with updated and improved features. In other words, branding today should be understood as a creation of powerful narratives, or stories that create resonant cultural meanings and intangible values, as heritage and collective memory about different subjects (places, countries, cultures, products, firms, etc.) in different time and space conditions. Although some studies (Belfanti, 2015 and 2017; Hansen 2006, Mordhorst 2014; Pinchera, Rinallo 2017; Suddaby, Foster, Trank 2010) have recently highlighted that history and rhetorical history play a key role for establishing claims to authenticity, identity and value in the past and present branding processes, this approach is relatively new and still needs further empirical evidence as well as theoretical development.
Economic historians provide a comprehensive understanding of the role of history in branding processes and the way in which brands are “narrated” in a historicized fashion (storytelling construction and de-construction). More generally, they are able to discuss the key role that history and “the use of the past” play in the market processes over time and across categories and contexts.
This session invites scholars interested in understanding the role of history, and the use of the past, in brands and branding processes over time, from the XVIth to XXIth century, and across categories (products, firms, industrial sectors, regions, cities, countries) through an interdisplinary prespectives.

Organizer(s)

  • Valeria Pinchera University of Pisa valeria.pinchera@unipi.it Italy
  • Marco Belfanti University of Brescia marco.belfanti@unibs.it Italy

Session members

  • Daniela Andreini, University of Bergamo
  • Daniele Dalli, University of Pisa
  • Pierre-Yves Donzé, Osaka University
  • Alberto Grandi, University of Parma
  • José Antonio Miranda, University of Alicante
  • Giuseppe Pedeliento, University of Bergamo
  • Véronique Pouillard, University of Oslo
  • Ben Wubs, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Discussant(s)

Papers

Panel abstract

Brands and the branding process evolved over time and across categories and areas. The number of studies on this topic rapidly grew up in the last decade through different fields of research. According to this new literature strand, history and the “use of the past” as both a narrative and an intangible asset, emerged as cornerstones of the branding process. In other words, branding today should be understood as a creation of powerful narratives that create resonant cultural meanings and intangible values, about different subjects (places, countries, cultures, products, firms, etc.) in different time and space conditions. Although some studies (Belfanti, 2017; Hansen 2006, Mordhorst 2014; Pinchera, Rinallo 2017) have recently highlighted that history play a key role for establishing claims to authenticity, identity and value in the past and present branding processes, this approach is relatively new and still needs further empirical evidence as well as theoretical development.

1st half

From mother’s ruin to ginassaince. Emergence, settlement, and resettlement of the gin category

Giuseppe Pedeliento, Daniela Andreini, Daniele Dalli

This article is an in-depth socio-historical analysis of the gin category from its origins to the present. Formerly a standardized spirit produced by a narrow group of large producers based in England, gin has become a premium craft spirit produced in every corner of the world, which marks a categorical shift that commentators have named a ‘ginaissance.’ We approach categories as socially constructed entities and make cognizant use of history to explain the consecutive configurations of categorical dynamics. Our findings show that, although at first sight the ginaissance resembles a classic dynamic of partitioning, the reasons behind it are far more intricate and complex. We contribute to studies on category emergence and change by showing that current categorical configurations cannot be properly interpreted if the chain of historical events that made the present possible is not adequately taken into consideration.

This article is an in-depth socio-historical analysis of the gin category from its origins to the present. Formerly a standardized spirit produced by a narrow group of large producers based in England, gin has become a premium craft spirit produced in every corner of the world, which marks a categorical shift that commentators have named a ‘ginaissance.’ We approach categories as socially constructed entities and make cognizant use of history to explain the consecutive configurations of categorical dynamics. Our findings show that, although at first sight the ginaissance resembles a classic dynamic of partitioning, the reasons behind it are far more intricate and complex. We contribute to studies on category emergence and change by showing that current categorical configurations cannot be properly interpreted if the chain of historical events that made the present possible is not adequately taken into consideration.

Storytelling and the making of a global luxury brand Christian Dior

Pierre-Yves Donzé, Ben Wubs

This paper discusses the storytelling strategy implemented by luxury companies to build global brands since the 1990s. Through the example of Christian Dior, it demonstrates that heritage is a social construction based on strong narratives rather than the mere outcome of the history of the brand. Storytelling is a powerful instrument used in the context of the making of global luxury brands during the last two decades. It makes it possible to emphasize the timeless of the brand while whipping away the contradictions resulting from the change of brand’s identity over time. Hence this paper argues that, although heritage is a useful tool for the practice of brand management, it is not an academic concept and should be avoided by scholars.

This paper discusses the storytelling strategy implemented by luxury companies to build global brands since the 1990s. Through the example of Christian Dior, it demonstrates that heritage is a social construction based on strong narratives rather than the mere outcome of the history of the brand. Storytelling is a powerful instrument used in the context of the making of global luxury brands during the last two decades. It makes it possible to emphasize the timeless of the brand while whipping away the contradictions resulting from the change of brand’s identity over time. Hence this paper argues that, although heritage is a useful tool for the practice of brand management, it is not an academic concept and should be avoided by scholars.

The Brand of Typicality. The Invention of Tradition in the Italian Food Industry

Alberto Grandi

During the Seventies, the newborn Italian regions have always focused more on tourism and gastronomy as means of territorial marketing. In this period the myth of Italian cuisine and its ancient tradition were furthered. Many typical products are born that boast centuries of history, but many of them are invented. In the same time, the food industries increasingly use history and tradition as advertising tools. The result is that today Italian food is one of the most appreciated in the world not only for its quality and its variety, but also for its history. An invented history, of course. In this paper I introduce some cases, as Lard of Colonnata, which is born only forty years ago, Balsamic Vinegar, which is an industrial product, completely different from artisan product with the same name, or Parma’s ham, became famous only after World War II.

During the Seventies, the newborn Italian regions have always focused more on tourism and gastronomy as means of territorial marketing. In this period the myth of Italian cuisine and its ancient tradition were furthered. Many typical products are born that boast centuries of history, but many of them are invented. In the same time, the food industries increasingly use history and tradition as advertising tools. The result is that today Italian food is one of the most appreciated in the world not only for its quality and its variety, but also for its history. An invented history, of course. In this paper I introduce some cases, as Lard of Colonnata, which is born only forty years ago, Balsamic Vinegar, which is an industrial product, completely different from artisan product with the same name, or Parma’s ham, became famous only after World War II.

Selling the past. The use of history as a marketing strategy in Spain during the Franco era

José Antonio Miranda

The Dictatorship of Franco extensively used the history of Spain to support his ideological arguments, to construct his iconic symbols and to justify his actions. It was a vision of the past intentionally distorted, which ignored some stages and extolled the period of the Middle Ages and the Sixteenth Century Empire. The aim of this paper is to analyze how this use of history was also transferred to the marketing strategy of Spanish companies, which frequently resorted to historical myths to build their brands. Taking as main source the registration of trademarks and trade names of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office, the paper studies which were the most commercially used historical characters and events, in what sectors of activity and for what type of products, what was the evolution over time of this practice and if it was also used as a strategy to penetrate foreign markets.

The Dictatorship of Franco extensively used the history of Spain to support his ideological arguments, to construct his iconic symbols and to justify his actions. It was a vision of the past intentionally distorted, which ignored some stages and extolled the period of the Middle Ages and the Sixteenth Century Empire. The aim of this paper is to analyze how this use of history was also transferred to the marketing strategy of Spanish companies, which frequently resorted to historical myths to build their brands. Taking as main source the registration of trademarks and trade names of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office, the paper studies which were the most commercially used historical characters and events, in what sectors of activity and for what type of products, what was the evolution over time of this practice and if it was also used as a strategy to penetrate foreign markets.

Branding haute couture the history of Paris couture firms and of their intellectual property rights strategies (1920s-1960s)

Véronique Pouillard

This paper examines the history of the Paris haute couture firms from the 1920s to the 1960s. It is focused on the way haute couture firms used their portfolios of intellectual property rights in order to construct assets for their brands. Research for this paper is based on the archives of firms and on the judiciary archives that are relevant to the history of French firms. Haute couture is examined here as a cluster of firms based in Paris. Many, but not all of them were part of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture parisienne, whose archives are also used to document intellectual property and the collective construction of the couture brand, both as individual brands, and as a collective brand. Research in the paper will compare and contrast the ways in which couturiers strategized their use of intellectual property rights in order to construct a durable patrimony and capital.

This paper examines the history of the Paris haute couture firms from the 1920s to the 1960s. It is focused on the way haute couture firms used their portfolios of intellectual property rights in order to construct assets for their brands. Research for this paper is based on the archives of firms and on the judiciary archives that are relevant to the history of French firms. Haute couture is examined here as a cluster of firms based in Paris. Many, but not all of them were part of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture parisienne, whose archives are also used to document intellectual property and the collective construction of the couture brand, both as individual brands, and as a collective brand. Research in the paper will compare and contrast the ways in which couturiers strategized their use of intellectual property rights in order to construct a durable patrimony and capital.

2nd half