Brands viewed in cultural, consumer, corporate and critical perspectives

RIT professor compiles published worldwide papers on branding perspectives

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Brands: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Branding today isn’t just a corporate logo, especially with social media’s ability to make a perception of a company go viral within a day or two.

Providing an overview of innovative research on brands was the reason Jonathan Schroeder, the William A. Kern Professor of Communications at Rochester Institute of Technology, edited Brands: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

“Brands aren’t just for the business school any more,” Schroeder said. “Everyone is interested in the concept of branding. The sociology department often criticizes brands, while the anthropologists wonder how that brand works, and communication specialists study how consumers cope with brands.”

Brands are now co-owned and co-created with consumers, he said, largely due to the Internet. Consumers can instantly post a comment or video about an experience with a company or product, giving their perspective about that company or product and contributing to the brand’s identity.

Schroeder has taken papers published in journals about branding — whose authors are from the U.S., Canada, England, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands and Australia — and compiled them into four categories:

  • Cultural, how brands tap into cultural resources and brand identities, such as Chrysler touting their Detroit roots or Budweiser showing ads with Americana values.
  • Consumer, their relationships with brands and how they are part of their lives.
  • Corporate, the traditional business view of strategic brand management.
  • Critical, where consumers can be critical of a product or service via social media by giving feedback to a company, as well as broader criticisms of a brand’s global power and influence.

Each section of the book is accompanied by a commentary by a leading branding scholar. Schroeder said the book is targeted to researchers in various fields interested in brands and managers who want to approach branding in new ways.

“This book can be useful for brand managers and people in advertising, but it is equally important for anyone who is interested in the roles brands play in contemporary society,” he said.

Susan Fournier, a professor of marketing at Boston University, said, “Schroeder has a talent for detecting insights that challenge conventional wisdom and offer new opportunities. The thought-provoking contributions in this curated volume consider brands not as economics signals of managerial assets, but as complex cultural artifacts with ethnical and political implications. If you need to be informed about building brands in contemporary culture, read this book.”