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Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage


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Purpose Brand heritage is acknowledged as one of the future priorities in branding research. Adopting it in an international context is challenging. In order to maximise its use it is necessary to know how strong it and the target country's cultural heritage are. Accordingly, the aim of the study is to construct a pioneering operationalisation of both brand and cultural heritage. Design/methodology/approach The study begins with a discussion on the focal concepts. Definitions are proposed and suggestions for operationalisation put forward. Thereafter, the concepts are applied in an analysis of brand heritage in different countries. Findings It is suggested that brand heritage is a mixture of the history as well as the consistency and continuity of core values, product brands, and visual symbols. A country's cultural heritage could be conceived of as homogeneity and endurance. Research limitations/implications The preliminary operationalisation of the concept needs to be further tested. Nevertheless, the clarification and suggestions offered here should open up opportunities for further research. Practical implications The exploitation of brand heritage in international markets is likely to be further accentuated. The operationalisations generated are easy for practitioners to apply, enabling companies to better evaluate what brand heritage means for them and to effectively plan its use in an international setting. Originality/value To the authors' knowledge, this study is the first to suggest operationalisations of brand heritage and cultural heritage.
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Operationalising brand heritage and
cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala
Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Sonja La
Helsinki School of Economics, Aalto University, Aalto, Finland, and
Birgitta Sandberg
Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Purpose Brand heritage is acknowledged as one of the future priorities in branding research. Adopting it in an international context is challenging. In
order to maximise its use it is necessary to know how strong it and the target country’s cultural heritage are. Accordingly, the aim of the study is to
construct a pioneering operationalisation of both brand and cultural heritage.
Design/methodology/approach The study begins with a discussion on the focal concepts. Definitions are proposed and suggestions for
operationalisation put forward. Thereafter, the concepts are applied in an analysis of brand heritage in different countries.
Findings It is suggested that brand heritage is a mixture of the history as well as the consistency and continuity of core values, product brands, and
visual symbols. A country’s cultural heritage could be conceived of as homogeneity and endurance.
Research limitations/implications The preliminary operationalisation of the concept needs to be further tested. Nevertheless, the clarification and
suggestions offered here should open up opportunities for further research.
Practical implications The exploitation of brand heritage in international markets is likely to be further accentuated. The operationalisations
generated are easy for practitioners to apply, enabling companies to better evaluate what brand heritage means for them and to effectively plan its use
in an international setting.
Originality/value To the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to suggest operationalisations of brand heritage and cultural heritage.
Keywords Brand heritage, Cultural heritage, International branding, Brands, Heritage
Paper type Research paper
As businesses currently face the challenge of keeping up with
rapid change in areas such as technology, the brand has
become one of the few resources to provide long-term
competitive advantage (Lindemann, 2003). One way of
dealing with the environmental turbulence is to accentuate
historical elements and thereby convey stability and
confidence. It has become trendy for consumers to seek
consolation in the past, and brands with an image including
elements such as authenticity, heritage and stability are
gaining in popularity (Brown et al., 2003; Loveland et al.,
2010). It has also been argued that symbolic and emotional
attachment between a brand and a consumer is more
probable with brands that connect heritage and authenticity
to their image (Ballantyne et al., 2006).
Coincident with its current attraction to marketers, heritage
is acknowledged as a key organisational resource imparting
long-lasting strategic value: companies are unique in terms of
their heritage, and the heritage can provide the basis for
superior performance (Balmer, 2009; Balmer and Gray,
2003). Unlocking the potential hidden value of a brand’s
heritage may be one way of harnessing the past and the
present in order to safeguard the future (Urde et al., 2007).
Managers today face the challenge of marketing a brand’s
heritage in a way that brings out its historical reliability but
does not make it appear out-dated. Indeed, it is argued that
this will be the key to building successful brands in the future:
due to the abundance of choice, today’s marketing
environment demands strong brand identities and decries
imitation (Aaker, 1996; Ballantyne et al., 2006).
Coincident with the extensive research interest in brands in
general is a growing fascination with nostalgia and retro
brands (cf. Boutlis, 2000; Brown, 2001; Brown et al., 2003;
Kessous and Roux, 2008; Loveland et al., 2010). However,
research from the conceptual perspective of brand heritage is
still scarce (e.g. Liebrenz-Himes et al., 2007). The studies
conducted by Urde et al. (2007) and Greyser et al. (2006) are
among the few thus far focusing specifically on this, whereas
others only mention it in passing, and the concept still lacks
Despite, or perhaps because of globalisation, there is an
increasing need for research on cultural differences between
nations in the business context (Leung et al., 2005). There
have been many attempts to measure national cultures. Most
cultural mappings (e.g. Hofstede, 2001; Schwartz, 1994)
emphasise differences in value priorities between individuals
in a given national group in comparison with individuals in
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Journal of Product & Brand Management
20/6 (2011) 447– 456
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]
[DOI 10.1108/10610421111166595]
other national groups. They do not take into account how
deeply rooted or strongly inherited these values are within
a nation, however. Studies on national cultural heritage are
scarce. The few that exist tend to consider heritage a cultural
resource (i.e. cultural capital) and thus evaluate its benefits to
a country/region (e.g. Bostedt and Lundgren, 2010), or they
analyse it as a determinant of organisational behaviour (e.g.
Fargher et al., 2008).
However, national cultural heritage is rarely discussed in
the academic literature on marketing, except for brief
references to the cultural heritage in the country of origin
(e.g. Tellstro¨m et al., 2006), and is largely neglected as far as
the target country is concerned. This is surprising given the
large amount of literature on adaptation vs. standardisation of
the different elements of marketing in target markets (Ryans
et al., 2003): one would assume that knowledge about cultural
heritage would be a prerequisite. Like brand heritage, cultural
heritage lacks operationalisation. Discussion of the two
concepts that is restricted to definitions is pointless,
however, without an understanding of their practical
application. Moreover, combining these concepts in one
study will enhance knowledge of brand management across
As a pioneer in this respect, Banerjee (2008) considered the
cultural heritage of the target country in relation to branding.
His conceptual framework for matching brand heritage and
cultural heritage, although seemingly a valuable tool for
enhancing understanding of brand heritage in international
markets, has not, to our knowledge, been applied empirically.
Its application is complicated, however, because of the lack of
measurements for the two concepts. This constitutes the
research gap for this study, the aim of which is to construct a
preliminary operationalisation of brand heritage and cultural
Thus, the constructed operationalisations will constitute the
main contribution of the study, and will be a major step
forward in terms of theory development. Moreover, it will be
of use to researchers focusing on international branding,
allowing more systematic comparison of the strength of brand
heritage in different brands and of the strength of the national
cultural heritage in different countries.
The article proceeds as follows. First we define and discuss
the concepts of brand heritage and cultural heritage, and
suggest how they might best be operationalised. We then
briefly evaluate the usability of the suggested measures in line
with Banerjee’s (2008) framework. Empirical cases are used
to illustrate the theoretical discussion and to support the
operationalisation. Finally, we suggest theoretical implications
in the form of propositions, which lead us to the practical
Brand heritage
Defining a brand and brand associations
A brand is often defined as a set of functional attributes and
symbolic values, branding being the process of associating the
attributes with the product in order to add value to it (e.g.
˜es and Dibb, 2001; Knox and Bickerton, 2003).
According to Kapferer (2004), a brand’s success is based on
its saliency, differentiability and intensity, and on the trust
attached to the associations. In addition to these, Davis
(2010) emphasises the role and accumulation of experiences
in brand recognition. Brand preference ultimately depends on
what the brand means to the customer and on the strength of
its emotional effect, in other words on its place in the heart
(e.g. Ballantyne et al., 2006). Brands are intangible assets
(Kapferer, 2004), and have traditionally been associated with
physical goods, but the notion of branding has been extended
to companies as well. A company brand is defined primarily in
terms of organisational associations.
Brand intangibles cover a wide range of associations and
represent a significant element and future priority in branding
research. Brand heritage is one of the associations that
marketers can use to differentiate their brands from those of
their competitors, ultimately helping them to create a unique
image for the offering (Keller and Lehmann, 2006). In
turbulent times consumers become less confident in the
future, wishing to protect themselves from the harsh,
unpredictable realities of the outside world and seeking
reassurance from the products they buy. This increases
interest in brands with a heritage: skilfully exploited they can
evoke past events (Brown et al., 2003). Going back to one’s
roots and seeking comfort in the past in order to be ready for
the future appears to be a growing trend. Brands representing
stability, familiarity and trust can speak to people in periods of
uncertainty, helping to create an image of authenticity and
integrity that is likely to appeal to today’s consumers.
According to Ballantyne et al. (2006), in difficult times
brand heritage offers a basis for stabilisation and growth.
Indeed, Aaker (2004) recommends “going back to the roots”
particularly for companies that are struggling. When external
circumstances call for corporate change, however, overly strict
adherence to the brand heritage can turn into inertia
(Blomba¨ ck and Brunninge, 2009).
A related concept that seems to be gaining popularity in
these economically challenging times is “retro”. Whereas
brand heritage is deeply rooted in the company’s or product’s
history, and cannot be copied, “retro” is a marketing and
advertising tactic that any company can apply: reviving old
products or brand slogans, incorporating images of days gone
by, rehashing and re-contextualising old ads and old cultural
representations, and evoking any kind of nostalgia associated
with the past. It is even used when a company wants to
position a new brand based on consumers’ pre-existing
emotional touch points (Sullivan, 2009; Brown et al., 2003;
Boutlis, 2000).
Dimensions of brand heritage
What is meant by brand heritage and heritage brands?
Defining them is not straightforward. It should also be said
that a company or product with a heritage is not necessarily a
heritage brand. Having a heritage does not in itself create
value but it may constitute the foundation of brand building
(Urde et al., 2007). The word heritage is generally associated
with inheritance: something transferred from one generation
to another. As a concept, therefore, it works as a carrier of
historical values from the past (Nuryanti, 1996).
Accordingly, Banerjee (2008, p. 314) describes its history,
image, expectancy and equity as the four pillars of a brand’s
heritage. History represents its rich eventful past, and the
image “an after effect of the brand communication and
positioning based on the benefits to be enjoyed by the
consumers”. Brand expectancy refers to the physical and
emotional benefits that consumers receive from the brand.
Finally, equity comprises two subsets: a homogeneous and a
heterogeneous set of competences that, respectively, facilitate
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447 456
progression and give the edge over the competition. With the
exception of its history, the elements of brand heritage in
Banerjee’s (2008) description are difficult to measure.
Meanwhile, according to Urde et al. (2007), a heritage
brand is recognisable from the following characteristics: a
track record, longevity, core values, history, and the use of
symbols. A track record means demonstrated proof that the
company has lived up to its values and promises over time,
whereas longevity reflects consistent performance among
other heritage elements. Core values are an integral part of a
brand’s identity, and over time may constitute its heritage.
History is another significant element of identity, and for the
heritage brands at issue embraces three timeframes: the past,
the present and the future. As Urde et al. (2007, p. 7) put it:
Heritage brands are about history and histor y in the making.
History can make a brand relevant to the present and,
prospectively, the future.
One way of creating a brand history is to link the brand to a
sense of cultural continuity and communal tradition by means
of its ubiquitous presence, of which Coca Cola is a good
example: the Coke name and logo are discernible virtually
everywhere, and the vast majority of people alive today can
recognise it (Beasley and Danesi, 2002). However, according
to some authors (e.g. Winkler, 1999), a long history is not a
prerequisite in that some brands develop a strong heritage
over a short period of time. This applies to many products of
the e-era, such as eBay and Google, as the digital age has
shortened time spans. Finally, symbols and other visual
elements are used to identify the brand and express its
meaning and values (Urde et al., 2007). In our opinion, of
Urde et al.s (2007) brand-heritage elements, track record
overlaps with history and core values, and consequently their
definition is not applicable as such. In addition, we prefer the
terms consistency and continuity to longevity because they
better capture the idea of the same overall look and feel in the
positioning strategy and underlying theme over time (see
Percy and Elliott, 2009).
As shown above, definitions vary and, in many respects,
overlap, but none of them explain how to measure brand
heritage per se. As mentioned, the research in this paper is on
the operationalisation of both brand and cultural heritage.
Consequently, brand heritage is seen here as a composite of
the history as well as the consistency and continuity of a
company’s core values, product brands and use of symbols
(see Figure 1, which shows the “visible” and “invisible” from
a consumer’s perspective), and a potential measurement
mechanism is proposed. The elements, in turn, produce an
image of quality, enhanced trust, customer loyalty and a
strong reputation eventually leading to stronger brand
equity. These components are discussed in the following.
Regardless of the contradictory notions (e.g. Davis, 2010),
we consider history to be a prerequisite of brand heritage. For
one thing, all companies have one. History and here we
mean a time span of some decades or more can represent a
depth of experience and a sense of permanence, and as such
may be an important element in image creation (Fill, 2009) as
well as in maintaining brand loyalty (Dahlen et al., 2010). It
also matters in terms of identity: employees know who and
what they are as well as where they come from and where they
are heading (Davis, 2010; Urde et al., 2007). Respecting and
highlighting the history of a company or a product should not
be associated with being old-fashioned: it is possible to
develop a modern brand without throwing away the history
that made it what it is, in other words something that
customers can trust (Dinnie, 2009; Ballantyne et al., 2006).
Its history can include the “story” of the company or brand,
and stories make the past relevant to contemporary life (cf.
Blomba¨ ck and Brunninge, 2009). A good story can engage
audiences, build long-term relationships and support
organisational claims. At best, the essence of the brand
resonates with the memories and emotional connections of
the audience (Dahlen et al., 2010; Flory and Iglesias, 2010),
thereby making the story of the company a success story that
retains its attractiveness over the years.
Secondly, consistency and continuity in a company’s
operations and in its marketing communications enhance its
brand heritage. For one thing, they concern the company’s
core values, and in this context help in defining the corporate
strategy, and thus become part of the brand heritage (Urde
et al., 2007). Brown et al. (2003), referring to core values,
mention the brand essence or the “aura”: the core values are
the consistent and essential guiding principles for which the
brand stands. Moreover, they do not change with current
trends, or even with changing conditions in the market, and
they are not to be confused with financial or short-term aims
(Collins and Porras, 1996). As Urde (2003) states, they
should be part of a realistic future identity. The support of the
whole organisation is needed in linking core values and the
brand tightly together in a way that is hard to copy.
In the context of marketing communications, consistency
implies a “one voice” approach, integrating the company’s
strategy and creative actions over the long term. Adding to
this certain timelessness is an element of responsibility, which
means respecting what has been done before, yet allowing
change and improvement. Every new generation brings
something new to the brand, but without the previous
knowledge and tradition the branding would have to start all
over again (Urde et al., 2007; also Percy and Elliott, 2009).
Given the visibility of a company’s brand heritage in its
products, it is important to take the individual product brands
into account. Besides, brands with a heritage are often the
oldest ones in their respective product categories (cf. Aaker,
1996). Questions such as “how has the product line
changed?” and “what were the focal product brands of the
company at the time of its foundation, and what are they
now?” need to be asked in order to assess the consistency and
continuity of the product range.
Brands with a heritage can speak to consumers through
various ways: symbols, graphics, nostalgia, packaging and
Figure 1 Elements of brand heritage
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447 456
advertising (Ballantyne et al., 2006). Symbols act as a means
of expressing the core values, indicating what the brand stands
for (Urde et al., 2007). Visual symbols have more potential
than words because a symbol is more ambiguous, imbued
with meanings and rich in information, and at best can create
an emotional bond with consumers. (Vestergaard and
Schrøder, 1985; Borja de Mozota, 2003) The little Hariboy
and the Gold Bear of Haribo Candy, not to mention the
contoured Coca Cola bottle, are symbols that reflect and
express the organisation’s meaning and heritage (Urde et al.,
2007; Kessous and Roux, 2008). A consistent symbol can
bring coherence and structure to the identity of a brand by
associating it with the past, which makes it easy for consumers
to recall and recognise it and to differentiate it from
competing brands (Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 2000).
Symbols that reflect heritage can be anything that
represents the brand, including logos, shapes, colours and
patterns (Urde et al., 2007). They also appear in the form of
taglines, such as “Snap, Crackle, Pop, Rice Krispies!”
(Kellogg’s, 2010), or as metaphors, gestures, musical notes,
packages and even events or programmes (Aaker and
Joachimsthaler, 2000). Constructing a logo is not only
finding a name that creates familiarity for the brand.
Successful brands develop a visual identity and a marketing-
communication process that persist and are distinctive (Borja
de Mozota, 2003). A colour, for example, can become so
consistently linked with a specific brand and its heritage that it
acquires a secondary meaning; accordingly, companies are
increasingly registering colours as trademarks (Hoek and
Gendall, 2010).
Operationalising brand heritage
Operationalisation is complicated because product and
company brand heritage tend to be intertwined. This is
even more accentuated in companies/products with a long
history. In practice a company contemplating
internationalisation needs to consider its brand architecture
(Kapferer, 2004). With regard to fast-moving consumer
goods the main emphasis is on the product. Figure 2 depicts
the proposed operationalisation. As indicated, in referring to
the intangible and tangible past of a company and its
products, brand heritage is not only in the past but is also a
representation of it.
The cultural heritage of the target country
Even though the brand heritage is considered valuable, its
significance may vary according to where the brand is
marketed: it may have a heritage in a global as well as a local
sense, but the two may differ considerably (Van Gelder,
2003). Internationalising companies should therefore
consider the extent to which they are able to or should
utilise the local heritage. As Banerjee (2008) advises, the
brand’s heritage should be set in the context of the cultural
heritage of the target country, and potential gaps in strength
between them weighed up before the target country is
The cultural heritage of the target country is relevant in
that in spite or perhaps because of globalisation it has an
enduring impact on the values of the individuals living in it
(Inglehart and Baker, 2000). However, it is a complex
phenomenon and assessing its strength is not straightforward.
Culture could be defined as a collective programming of the
mind that distinguishes the members of one human group
from another (Hofstede, 2001). Societies develop their own
distinctive cultures over time. The country is often used as the
unit of analysis, and there have been various attempts to
classify national cultures based on value differences (e.g.
Hofstede, 2001; Trompenaars, 1993). However, to our
knowledge, there are no country classifications based on
differences in cultural heritage.
In line with the definition of brand heritage suggested above
we thus define the cultural heritage of a country as a
composite of the history and the coherence and continuity of
the nation’s distinguishable characteristics. Given that it is a
social construction, the understanding of cultural heritage
depends on the evaluator’s own historical and spatial context
(cf. Arantes, 2007), and in order to be able to compare
countries we would need clear, more objective measurement
criteria. Moreover, if they are to be of use to companies they
should allow fast comparison based on the secondary
information available from each country.
According to Banerjee (2008), measurement of the cultural
heritage of a country should be based on homogeneity (in
fact, he refers to the degree of diversity), endurance, tolerance
and impediment, but he does not explain how to do it. In
particular, impediment and tolerance would be hard or even
impossible to measure in practice. We therefore suggest that
two dimensions homogeneity and endurance would be
sufficient for evaluating and comparing the cultural heritage
in different countries.
Measures of homogeneity could be based on the dominance
of a single language, ethnic background and religion within a
country. For instance, the higher the proportion of speakers of
the dominant language, the more homogeneous the country
would seem to be (Diener and Diener, 2009; Tonta, 2009).
After testing the criteria on various countries, however, we
decided to leave ethnic background aside because it correlated
so strongly with language and religion that excluding it made
no difference in the final assessment. Furthermore, it is rather
easy to find information on the dominant language and
religion, whereas ethnic diversity is not always documented.
Endurance is more difficult. Should we measure the period
of independence or the years the country has been populated?
Both are problematic: the former focuses more on political
history and the latter is vague and does not differentiate
countries from each other. We therefore propose that
representations of cultural heritage and its conservation
could be utilised in measuring the endurance of particular
cultures. The UNESCO World Heritage Lists provide
comparable data on cultural heritage sites (e.g. monuments
Figure 2 The proposed operationalisation of brand heritage
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447 456
and groups of buildings), as well as on intangible aspects of
heritage (e.g. traditions inherited from ancestors, rituals and
festive events) covering 186 of the 192 Member States of the
United Nations. UNESCO describes heritage as the legacy
from the past, what people live with today, and what they pass
on to future generations (UNESCO, 2010).
Even though the UNESCO World Heritage List affords fast
access to comparable data, and is provided by an international
neutral player, it has certain shortcomings. For example, it
has been accused of promoting a European viewpoint on
cultural heritage, ignoring minority groups, and applying
strict nomination criteria with which less developed countries
may find it impossible to comply (Labadi, 2007; Rao, 2010).
However, the fact that the list seems to be the only available
comparable data source on the cultural heritage of different
countries justified its utilisation as a proxy for endurance.
Thus the number of nominations of any particular country on
the list could be considered an indicator of endurance. In
sum, Figure 3 depicts the suggested operationalisation of the
cultural heritage of a country.
Utilising brand heritage in different cultures
Utilising brand heritage is more complicated when a firm
operates in different cultures. Banerjee (2008) proposes four
different strategies from which a firm considering its use in an
international setting can choose. Together they comprise a
matrix, illustrated in Figure 4. The selection of strategies
depends on whether the heritage of the brand is weak or
strong, and on whether the cultural heritage of the target
market is weak or strong.
Of the brand strategies suggested, matching seems to be the
most challenging in that it may need to be tailor-made for
each country. Assimilation requires country-based adaptation
as well, but it tends to be easier because the brand’s particular
heritage is not so deep-rooted. Both convincing and initiating
emphasise communication with consumers, and thus do not
seem to differ from the strategies adopted in the home market
(cf. Banerjee, 2008).
In order to pilot the operationalisations created in the
previous sections we decided to concentrate on fast-moving
consumer goods (FMCGs). It has been suggested that
consumer-goods companies benefit from their heritage more
than business-to-business organisations (Holt, 2004), and
that more research is needed given that FMCGs rarely
include brands that are associated with heritage (Alexander,
2009). Of the various industries represented in FMCGs we
selected the food industry. Food is essential to the traditions
of a culture, and a company can convey cultural elements of
its country of origin along with its food brands (Tellstro¨m
et al., 2006).
Empirically we investigated the phenomenon through case
research. Case studies are appropriate when there is a need to
understand complex phenomena that are not easily separable
from their contexts (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 1989). The
comprehensiveness that this approach allows is highly relevant
to this research because of the novelty of the topic and
because of the temporal dimensions of heritage. The study
incorporates four cases (four food-product brands), thereby
allowing both rich description and systematic comparison (see
Miles and Huberman, 1994). The cases were selected on the
basis of the companies’ international scope, long history
(offering maximum insight into their heritage), access
(Finnish cases) and cooperativeness (i.e. information
provided and trust gained during previous research
projects). The brands chosen for this study were Fazer
Puikula bread and Fazer Blue milk chocolate produced the by
Fazer Group, and Elovena oat flakes and Sunnuntai baking
products produced by the Raisio Group. Various forms of
data were gathered in order to capture the versatility of the
phenomenon (Table I). The data collection took place in
The first task in the within-case analysis was to organise the
data according to the agreed brand-heritage criteria: history,
consistency and continuity of the core values, the product
brands and the visual symbols. We also analysed the
international scope (international markets and brand
strategies utilised). Engaging in careful conceptual
contemplation, having three researchers analysing the data,
and asking the informants to review the draft cases ensured
the construct validity of this qualitative analysis (cf. Daymon
and Holloway, 2002; Yin, 1989).
Evaluation of cultural heritage relied on homogeneity and
endurance, and was based on the conceptual studies by
Banerjee (2008) and Arizpe (2004). The assessment of
national homogeneity relied on quantitative data obtained
from public sources (see Table II in the next section). The
investigation concentrated on the main target countries of the
case brands, which limited the number of countries in the
analysis. The operationalisation of homogeneity compared
with that in previous studies (e.g. Diener and Diener, 2009),
and the shares of the dominant language and religion
correlated (r¼0:701) in the countries concerned, indicating
internal consistency. Endurance was more difficult to
operationalise. The number of nominations on the
Figure 3 The operationalisation of cultural heritage
Figure 4 Brand strategies for different cultural heritages
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447 456
UNESCO World Heritage List was used as a proxy, as
explained previously. The measurements of homogeneity and
endurance correlated (r¼0:737) in the countries in question.
The internal consistency in the measurements and scatter
plots shown in Figure 5 indicate good construct validity, but
given the lack of previous studies and the small number of
countries in the analysis, the results should be interpreted
with caution.
Data obtained from different sources were compared, and
in the case of contradictory information clarified by means of
additional phone calls or e-mails. Banerjee’s (2008)
framework was used for the cross-case analysis. The
following section presents the results of the empirical study.
Applying the operationalisations in practice
The first case concerns the Fazer Group, the first industrial
manufacturer of confectionery products in Finland, founded
by Karl Fazer in 1891. Many of the brands that were launched
at the time of the company’s foundation are still on the
market. Fazer Blue milk chocolate was launched in 1922, and
has been voted among the most valuable brands in Finland for
many years in sequence. Fazer’s core values have remained
the same since its establishment. In terms of symbols, the
official logo has undergone small updates over the years but
the registered colour remains the same. Fazer Blue was
launched just a few years after Finland became independent,
and the blue colour is thus besides of nature also a
symbol of patriotism (cf. the Finnish flag). Continuity is
expressed in the company’s USP, which has been in use for
decades: “It’s good it’s Fazer’s” (Donner, 1991, p. 19). The
other Fazer example, Puikula bread, was launched in 1997 in
Finland. Puikula builds its heritage on its oval shape, which is
a traditional form of Finnish homemade bread, and on a
fibre-rich composition.
Elovena is an 85-year-old oatmeal brand of the Finnish
Raisio Group. Oatmeal was previously a bulk product, and it
was Elovena that was first packaged and given a label. It
Table I Empirical data
Type Case Elovena Case Fazer Blue Case Fazer Puikula Case Sunnuntai
Face-to-face interviews 13 3 1
Telephone discussions 41 1 1
E-mails 26 6 2
Company’s own material (annual reports, internet pages) 41 21 49 34
Books 21 1 2
Press articles 612 9 4
TV documents 11 1 0
Observation (Company visits) 12 2 1
Table II Cultural heritage in the target countries of the studied cases
Homogeneity Endurance
Main target countries for Fazer,
Elovena and Sunnuntai Share of the dominant language
Share of the dominant religion
Number of cultural heritage sites
and intangibles
Estonia Estonian 68%
Unaffiliated 34%
0.34 5
0.51 0.08
Latvia Latvian 58%
Unspecified 64%
0.64 4
0.61 0.06
Lithuania Lithuanian 82%
Roman Catholic 79%
0.79 6
0.81 0.1
Poland Polish 98%
Roman Catholic 90%
0.90 12
0.94 0.20
Russian 95%
Orthodox 70%
0.7 17
0.83 0.28
Sweden Swedish 95%
Lutheran 87%
0.87 13
0.91 0.21
Note: The mean of homogeneity and endurance are in italic
The World Fact Book
UNESCO, 2010;
China: highest score 61 ( ¼1)
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447 456
depicts a blonde girl in national dress with a sickle in her
hand, standing by a cornfield, and has become a national
icon. Another example from the Raisio Group is the
Sunnuntai brand, which was launched as packaged flour in
1967 but soon developed into a family of products related to
baking (margarine and yeast, for example). The warm, yellow
background of the package, the round roll of sweet bread and
the red rose were considered naı¨ve at first but the concept
worked, and it still does (cf. Heino, 1989). In sum, both the
companies and the products analysed seem to have a rather
strong heritage based on their long history, the consistency
and continuity of their procedures, their core values and their
visual symbols.
Table II gives a practical example of the evaluation of
cultural heritage, listing the main target countries of Fazer
Blue, Fazer Puikula, Elovena and Sunnuntai. The figure in
bold under the name of the country is the mean of the
homogeneity and endurance measurements. The
homogeneity score was derived from the mean of the share
of the dominant language (e.g. the mother tongue of 95 per
cent of the population of Sweden is Swedish) and the share of
the dominant religion (e.g. 87 per cent of people living in
Sweden are Lutherans). Thus, in the case of Sweden the
homogeneity score was 0.91. In deriving the endurance score
we scaled the number of cultural heritage sites and intangibles
in a particular country to the number of cultural heritage sites
and intangibles in China (the country with highest numbers).
Sweden, for example, has 13 cultural heritage sites and
intangibles, which is 21 per cent of the Chinese figure (61),
thus the score for Sweden was 0.21.
The higher the mean of homogeneity and endurance (the
figures in italic), the stronger is the cultural heritage of the
country concerned. It thus seems that Poland, Sweden and
Russia are rather strong in cultural heritage, whereas Estonia
and Latvia are weaker. Lithuania is in the middle, leaning
slightly towards the weaker side. It is worth noting that even
though we use the terms “weak” and “strong”, which have
been used in earlier research (cf. Banerjee, 2008), we do not
mean to imply that “strong” is somehow better than weak. It
may be that even though a country with a strong cultural
heritage is more stabilised, it is also more traditional and
inflexible, whereas one with a weak cultural heritage may be
modern and dynamic.
Figure 6 illustrates the proposed brand strategies for the
selected cases in their main target markets. Given that all
these products appear to have a strong brand heritage,
convincing and matching strategies are proposed, depending
on the target country’s own cultural heritage.
Fazer Bakeries is active in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Sweden and Russia. According to the framework (Figure 6),
given the rather strong cultural heritage in Sweden and Russia
is rather strong Fazer could adopt a matching strategy in those
countries and a convincing strategy in the Baltic countries.
Closer examination of the Puikula bread brand suggests that
this assumption partly holds: a convincing strategy is used in
Finland and the Baltics, whereas an assimilation strategy
seems to have been adopted in Sweden and Russia. In the
latter cases the decision stemmed from a market-entry
strategy based on acquiring well-known local bakeries.
Fazer Blue milk chocolate is exported to Estonia, Latvia,
Sweden and Russia. Again, one would expect to see a
convincing strategy in Estonia and Latvia, and a matching
Figure 5 Scatter plots of the measurements related to homogeneity and cultural heritage
Figure 6 Suggested brand strategies for the selected cases
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447 456
strategy in Sweden and Russia. In practice, however, Fazer
adopts a convincing strategy in all of the countries: the brand
is exactly the same. The name of the company founder, Karl
Fazer, is emphasised even more in the international markets
than in Finland. The convincing strategy may be justified
because of Fazer Blue’s extremely strong image in Finland
and the brand’s position as the flagship product of the whole
Fazer group.
The Raisio Group’s Elovena oat flakes are sold in Poland
and Estonia. According to the framework, a matching strategy
should be adopted in Poland and a convincing strategy in
Estonia. In fact, the firm uses matching in both countries: the
brand differs slightly. The reason why the same strategy was
adopted could be that international operations started in
Poland and the Estonian market is rather small. It therefore
made sense to use the concept developed for Poland in both
The only market outside Finland for Sunnuntai baking
products is Estonia. The brand is very strong in the Finnish
market and the company did not want to change the product
or its name. Consequently, a convincing strategy is utilised.
This is in line with the framework.
In sum, the case studies show that, first, the proposed
operationalisation of brand heritage and cultural heritage are
rather easily applied in practice. Secondly, Banerjee’s (2008)
framework for evaluating brand strategies in international
markets seems to fit well in some cases but as the cases
presented here show branding decisions for international
markets are influenced by many other things, such as
internationalisation strategies, entry modes and the timing
of market entry. Cultural heritage could thus be seen as one
variable among many others that, through complex
interaction, influence branding. This does not diminish its
significance, however, but rather evokes the need to
understand its interaction with other variables.
Discussion and conclusions
A company’s brand heritage can be a noteworthy competitive
tool as it enters international markets. However, brand
managers should establish how the markets differ culturally,
and construct a marketing strategy accordingly. In other
words, the brand’s heritage and the cultural heritage of the
target country should be interlinked, thereby enabling
companies to assess their relative strength in each target
country. Assessment requires the objective operationalisation
of both concepts, however, which was the purpose of this
study. There have been studies focusing on conceptual
definitions, but to our knowledge this is the first one to target
operationalisation. Combining the definitions of brand
heritage developed by Banerjee (2008) and Urde et al.
(2007), and taking into account the measurability and the
need to avoid overlapping concepts, we therefore propose
P1. Brand heritage is a composite concept incorporating
the history of the brand in numbers of years of
operation and the power of the brand story over time,
as well as the consistency and continuity of the core
values, the product brands and the visual symbols.
As Banerjee (2008) suggests, the brand’s heritage should be
considered in the context of the cultural heritage of the target
country, and potential gaps in strength between them weighed
up, before the country is approached. Previous literature (e.g.
Hofstede, 2001; Trompenaars, 1993) has classified countries
based on cultural differences, but there is a dearth of tools for
measuring differences in cultural heritage. This, again, calls
for operationalisation. Having taken Banerjee’s (2008)
conceptualisation of national cultural heritage as a starting
point and converted it into measurable form that proved to be
usable in practice, we propose that:
P2. The cultural heritage of a country comprises
homogeneity and endurance.
One way of assessing homogeneity is to analyse the coverage
of the dominant language and religion, whereas endurance
can be ranked in accordance with the number of cultural
heritage nominations received.
The empirical application of the above operationalisations
to Banerjee’s (2008) framework, which to our knowledge is
the first, leads us to our third proposition. It seems that both
convincing and matching are often suitable strategies for
internationalising companies with a strong brand heritage. We
also found that both strategies could sometimes be adopted
for one product brand simultaneously in different market
areas. The timing of the market entry and the marching order
of the markets also seem to matter. Hence:
P3. The utilisation of brand heritage in international
markets is influenced by the strength of the brand’s
own heritage and the strength of the cultural heritage
of the target country, and also by other variables such
as the firm’s internationalisation strategy and the
timing of the market entry.
Thus, although it is extremely hard to estimate the impact of a
country’s cultural heritage on branding decisions as there
are other influencing variables it should be borne in mind
that “there are very few instances where culture does not
matter at all” (Leung et al., 2005, p. 368).
The above propositions are drawn from our theoretical
discussion and case examples, and further research is needed
to support their validity. We suggest that future studies should
focus on specifying the circumstances in which cultural
heritage matters more and when it matters less. Applicability
of the brand-heritage concept should be considered in
different product categories, and account taken of the
strength of the heritage in the country of origin as well as
the familiarity and traditions of the product category in the
target market. Overall, more empirical research is needed to
test the validity of the suggested operationalisations.
Managers are under increasing pressure to utilise brand
heritage more efficiently in international markets. Given that
the strategies seem to differ depending on the target countries’
own cultural heritages, we recommend that firms basing their
competitive advantage largely on a strong brand heritage in
particular carefully consider how to enter countries with a
strong cultural heritage. The operationalisations created in
this study are easy for practitioners and managers to apply.
Our conclusions should be considered in the light of the
limitations of the study. This research is primarily conceptual
and the propositions are based on relatively scarce empirical
evidence. In particular, the measurement of a country’s
cultural heritage is problematic and deserves further
consideration. We assumed that both homogeneity and
endurance would play an equal role in its determination:
this assumption needs to be further deliberated. Furthermore,
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447 456
the utilisation of the UNESCO World Heritage List as a proxy
for endurance could be carefully considered in future studies.
The overlap between the corporate and product brand
heritage may also complicate the operationalisation of the
concepts. All that said, we hope that this paper will provide
the basis for future discussion, and will act as a trigger for
further empirical studies.
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About the authors
Ulla Hakala is Assistant Professor in Marketing at the Turku
School of Economics. Her research interests lie in marketing
communications and branding. Lately she has conducted
research on brand equity and co-branding, place branding,
cultural differences in brand perceptions, and service quality
in non-profit organisations. Ulla Hakala is the corresponding
author and can be contacted at:
Sonja La¨ tti has a Master’s Degree in International Business
from the Turku School of Economics. She focused on brand
heritage in her Master’s thesis.
Birgitta Sandberg is Assistant Professor in International
Business at the Turku School of Economics. Her recent
publications include articles in the European Journal of
Innovation Management,Creativity and Innovation
Management, and the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology,
and a book entitled Managing and Marketing Radical
Innovations; Marketing New Technology (2008, Routledge).
Operationalising brand heritage and cultural heritage
Ulla Hakala, Sonja La
¨tti, and Birgitta Sandberg
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 20 · Number 6 · 2011 · 447– 456
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... Kapferer (2012) describes heritage as "everything that gives a brand its unique authority and legitimacy within a realm of precise values and benefits". As a concept, brand heritage has gained traction within marketing (Hakala et al., 2011), incorporating it into a variety of perspectives and models, including brand equity (Aaker, 2014), brand management (Keller, 2010;Meffert et al., 2005) and brand identity (Balmer, 1998). The academy has highlighted several aspects of brand heritage, including nostalgia (Holbrook and Schindler, 2003), authenticity (Grayson and Martinec, 2004) and cultural values (Lowenthal, 1998 ...
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Purpose-The brand identity-image gap is a well-known marketing field. However, very little academic work has been done within the wine industry regarding collective brands. With the aim of filling this gap, this paper analyzes and describes the relationship between identity and the image of Bordeaux wines. It is intended as a collective wine brand. Design/methodology/approach-From a positivist-functionalist perspective, a 45-question survey has been administered online to N ¼ 53 internal brand operators (winery owners or managers) and to N ¼ 655 external consumers (mainly focusing on 18-25 year-old segment). Nonprobabilistic sampling techniques have been used. Questions were structured within a semantic opposition. Findings-Data analysis has shown that the nine-dimension model (physical, personality, culture, self-image, reflection, relationship, positioning, vision and heritage) is capable of collecting a richer and more pertinent set of information concerning the brand identity; statistically significant gaps have been found in 25 out of 45 items; counterintuitively, the consumers have a very different opinion about the brand compared with existing ideas. Direct implications are that internal brand operators may suffer from imposter syndrome; information asymmetry may play a central role in brand perception; and the brand lacks symbolic and inspirational functions. Originality/value-Providing an original model to analyze and evaluate the brand identity-image gap, specifically adapted for collective wine brands, this work contributes to the literature by increasing the knowledge about brand identity issues.
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All countries desire to develop and improve their domestic and international image. This ambition supports policymakers, companies' managers, and citizens to establish a competitive identity, which challenges how place perceptions are formed and how countries might create and disseminate their unique identities. Cultural heritage can communicate a strong nation's brand identity with different stakeholders. This study aims to understand visitors' awareness of the world heritage (WH), how the level of familiarity with WH sites influences consumers' intention to visit them, and which are consumers' attitudes toward a site classified as world heritage. Findings show the need to increase familiarity and knowledge about the WH brand. This chapter contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between natural WH and visitors' perceptions and aims to help public decision-makers ensure culture is given its rightful place in development processes and strategies by protecting and safeguarding the world's cultural and natural heritage.
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... Branding vs. Cultural Heritage (Hakala et al. 2011;Amer 2018;Nobre and Sousa 2022): A brand is more than just a logo or a name. It represents a company's values, culture, and history. ...
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The purpose of this study is to explore the interaction between copyright, branding, marketing, and heritage protection with regard to a fashion brand. The authors use analytical-critical and legal-dogmatic methods, supplemented with desk research, a case study approach, and a review of the marketing literature. This paper argues that the top-tier fashion brands use the concept of artification in order to build their brands, mesmerize clientele, and increase revenues. Although design and reference to the arts play a major role in the luxurious and premium end of the fashion business, this analysis proves that the top players do not necessarily observe the appropriate laws in these areas. The reader will see examples of the flouting of basic legal constraints by big players, e.g., copyrights or property rights, including the monetisation of the creativity of others with the expectation of no legal challenge. Offenders capitalise on the likelihood that a legal suit is too demanding for smaller players, such as foundations or museums.
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This article advances knowledge on omni-temporality by looking at the processes by which a corporate brand may appropriate and valorise the heritage traits of a product brand. Set within the corporate and product brand dynamic, it presents the results of a qualitative study using case research on LVMH and Dom Pérignon. The study identifies how a younger corporate brand appropriates an older product brand’s heritage. Results contribute to a better understanding of the induction of omni-temporality, and of the development of a corporate heritage brand. They pave the way for a meritocratic view of corporate heritage as a status that can be acquired through managerial work.
Purpose The past is important for various known and unknown reasons. This paper aims to reveal and justify unacknowledged reasons why, when and how managers should consider leveraging the pasts of previously successful but currently declining brands to restore their more desirable historical market positions. Design/methodology/approach This conceptual paper combines marketing and branding theory with historical branding examples, anecdotes and inductive inferences to develop and justify brand-pastness as a theoretically-grounded and managerially-actionable repositioning concept that could be applied to resurrect declining brands. Findings The emergent historically-grounded brand-pastness framework generates innovative insights that could be applied in the future. These insights explain when, why and how brand managers could apply brand-pastness to resurrect declining brands. The framework also facilitates the development of a brand-pastness-based research agenda. The agenda is driven by questions structured to address the nature, scope and potential applications of brand-pastness as a new concept and useful repositioning tool. Research limitations/implications This paper’s recommendations are limited by their conceptual and inductive origins. However, a research agenda is developed to guide and structure future empirical investigations of the branding antecedents to and consequences of a prospective brand-pastness construct. Originality/value This paper introduces, conceptualizes and justifies the potential value of a historically-grounded concept called brand-pastness. The concept may prove beneficial when marketing managers use brand-pastness to reposition and resurrect declining brands by re-instilling targeted consumers’ historical perceptions of brands’ past superiority.
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With the rise of social media, brand communication has undergone tremendous changes. In particular, small brands have been affected severely. Given this, this study investigated strategies for how small brands can survive in the digital age using a case study of Louise Kennedy, a representative Irish fashion designer brand. After examining a total of 2,899 tweets, the study finds a strategic mechanism for heritage branding on social media, and confirms the important role of cultural heritage in the success of small brands. As a result, the study extends prior studies on heritage branding to fashion marketing on social media. Also, it provides actionable insights for small brands to survive the social media firestorm.
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This paper presents a theory of potentially universal aspects in the content of human values. Ten types of values are distinguished by their motivational goals. The theory also postulates a structure of relations among the value types, based on the conflicts and compatibilities experienced when pursuing them. This structure permits one to relate systems of value priorities, as an integrated whole, to other variables. A new values instrument, based on the theory and suitable for cross-cultural research, is described. Evidence relevant for assessing the theory, from 97 samples in 44 countries, is summarized. Relations of this approach to Rokeach's work on values and to other theories and research on value dimensions are discussed. Application of the approach to social issues is exemplified in the domains of politics and intergroup relations.
Using both verbal and nonverbal techniques to make its messages as persuasive as possible, advertising has become an integral component of modern-day social discourse designed to influence attitudes and lifestyle behaviors by covertly suggesting how we can best satisfy our innermost urges and aspirations through consumption. This book looks at the categories of this form of discourse from the standpoint of semiotic analysis. It deals with the signifying processes that underlie advertising messages in print, electronic, and digital form. © 2002 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin. All rights reserved.
This paper challenges the ‘manipulation’ thesis of advertising which was prevalent in the early post-war years. Despite the concerted beginnings of a leisure ethos in the 1950s, advertising was still regarded, in the puritan tradition, as immoral. Advertising, as ‘appearance’, was opposed to ‘truth’ and ‘utility’. It was not until the social liberation movements of the 1960s that this dialectical view of society receded, and the principle of affluence that took hold in the 1950s was brought to its logical conclusion. Society was no longer seen to be forged out of the struggle between self-restraint and irrational excess, but driven by irrepressible want. In the postmodern situation, advertising, as rhetoric, is no longer regarded as subordinate to production. Instead, it is a mirror to consumer society—to the constant turnover of superfluous cultural commodities or fads. Postmodern consumers are not simply manipulated by ads; they respond to them on a mediated, ‘knowing’ level. As such, they react best to ads that are irreverent and self-referential.
Nation Branding: Concepts, Issues, Practice is a comprehensive and exciting text that demonstrates why nations are embracing the principles of brand management. It clearly explains how the concepts and techniques of branding can be adapted to the context of nations- as opposed to the more usual context of products, services, or companies. Concepts grounded in the brand management literature such as brand identity, brand image, brand positioning, and brand equity, are transposed to the domain of nation branding and supported by country case insights that provide vivid illustrations of nation branding in practice. Nation branding is a means by which more and more nations are attempting to compete on the global stage. Current practice in nation branding is examined and future horizons traced. The book provides: The first overview of its kind on nation branding A blend of academic theory and real world practice in an accessible, readable fashion A clear and detailed adaptation of existing brand theory to the emerging domain of nation branding An original conceptual framework and models for nation branding A rich range of international examples and over 20 contributions by leading experts from around the world Country case insights on nation branding strategies currently being utilized by nations such as Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Switzerland, Iceland, and Russia Clearly and coherently structured, the book is an essential introduction to nation branding for both students and policymakers and will be an essential text for those interested in this fast growing area.