This article was downloaded by: [Dublin City University]On: 25 August 2008Access details: Access Details: [subscription nu...
Journal of Strategic Marketing                                                                   Vol. 16, No. 4, September...
284 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin                                                                   brand. From a well-known ...
Journal of Strategic Marketing      285                                                                       A ‘house of ...
286 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin                                                                                           F...
Journal of Strategic Marketing     287                                                                   Muzellec, 2005). ...
288 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin                                                                   consistency and years of ...
Journal of Strategic Marketing   289                                                                   Context            ...
290 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin                                                                   the corporate brand image...
Journal of Strategic Marketing       291                                                                   to express univ...
292 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin                                                                     financially aware peopl...
Journal of Strategic Marketing        293                                                                   product brand ...
294 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin                                                                   Discussion and conclusion...
Journal of Strategic Marketing   295Downloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008                      ...
296 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin                                                                   Culture, values, vision a...
Journal of Strategic Marketing        297                                                                   rebranding, th...
Corporate Rebranding and the Implications for Brand Architecture Management: The Case of Guinness (Diageo) Ireland
Corporate Rebranding and the Implications for Brand Architecture Management: The Case of Guinness (Diageo) Ireland
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Corporate Rebranding and the Implications for Brand Architecture Management: The Case of Guinness (Diageo) Ireland


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This case reveals the complex problem of protecting corporate heritage while
managing product and corporate brands to keep them aligned with contemporary
market requirements. A dynamic brand building model is presented which
simultaneously addresses the different audiences for the products and the
corporate brand. The paper concludes that a new concept of ‘business branding’,
distinct from ‘consumer/product branding’, may allow corporations to reconcile
the need for both corporate accountability and risk limitation while maintaining
an effective brand management programme.

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Corporate Rebranding and the Implications for Brand Architecture Management: The Case of Guinness (Diageo) Ireland

  1. 1. This article was downloaded by: [Dublin City University]On: 25 August 2008Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 788796278]Publisher RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Strategic Marketing Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: Corporate Rebranding and the Implications for Brand Architecture Management: The Case of Guinness (Diageo) Ireland Laurent Muzellec a; Mary Lambkin b a Dublin City University Business School, Ireland b University College Dublin, Ireland Online Publication Date: 01 September 2008To cite this Article Muzellec, Laurent and Lambkin, Mary(2008)Corporate Rebranding and the Implications for Brand ArchitectureManagement: The Case of Guinness (Diageo) Ireland,Journal of Strategic Marketing,16:4,283 — 299To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/09652540802264124URL: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
  2. 2. Journal of Strategic Marketing Vol. 16, No. 4, September 2008, 283–299 Corporate Rebranding and the Implications for Brand Architecture Management: The Case of Guinness (Diageo) Ireland Laurent Muzelleca* and Mary Lambkinb a Dublin City University Business School, Ireland; bUniversity College Dublin, Ireland (Received 4 September 2007; final version received 29 February 2008) The interaction between corporate and product brands – the vertical links in brand architecture – is explored through the case study of Guinness Ireland Group/Diageo Ireland. The change in the corporate name from Guinness to Diageo was one of the first high profile cases of rebranding and reflects aDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 deliberate strategy of separating the corporate brand from its product brands. This case reveals the complex problem of protecting corporate heritage while managing product and corporate brands to keep them aligned with contemporary market requirements. A dynamic brand building model is presented which simultaneously addresses the different audiences for the products and the corporate brand. The paper concludes that a new concept of ‘business branding’, distinct from ‘consumer/product branding’, may allow corporations to reconcile the need for both corporate accountability and risk limitation while maintaining an effective brand management programme. Keywords: corporate brand; brand architecture; rebranding; reputation; case study; Diageo Introduction Corporate brands are believed to be most effective when they sustain a high level of coherence over time and across stakeholders (Balmer, 1998; Morsing & Kristensen, 2001). Coherence across stakeholders is achieved by reducing the gaps between internal and external perceptions of the corporate brand (Chun & Davies, 2006), or between actual and communicated values (Balmer & Soenen, 1999). Coherence over time is maintained through years of sustained investment in a brand name (Kapferer, 1995; Keller, 2002). In recent years however, industry restructuring and changing market dynamics have led many companies to change their historical corporate name and adopt new brand architectures (Muzellec & Lambkin, 2006). Examples of rebranding include Andersen Consulting (Accenture) or CGNU (Aviva), Philip Morris (Altria), Guinness (Diageo). For Guinness (Diageo), the change of corporate name suggests a move towards a ‘house of brands’ architecture reflecting a deliberate strategy to separate the corporate identity from that of the company’s products which retain their own, individual names distinct from the corporate name (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000; Rao, Agarwal et al., 2004). Dispensing with a well-established corporate brand name seems at odds with the idea that corporate brand equity is built on corporate heritage (Aaker, 2000). Modifying the brand architecture also unsettles the foundations of the corporate *Corresponding author. Email: ISSN 0965-254X print/ISSN 1466-4488 online ß 2008 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/09652540802264124
  3. 3. 284 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin brand. From a well-known branded house, built on core values and history, the corporation is adopting a contrived corporate name disconnected from the company’s heritage and brand portfolio. To understand this possible inconsistency represents an interesting challenge that this paper attempts to address. The objective of this paper is to advance our understanding of the phenomenon of corporate rebranding, in the dynamic context of a change in the brand architecture. Specific questions addressed are as follows: N Does a change in the name of the corporate brand lead to a change in the corporate reputation? N Does a change in the corporate brand affect the management of the product brands; in other words, is there an interaction among the different levels in the brand hierarchy? N How does the image of the newly established corporate name relate to the company’s heritage and brand portfolio?Downloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 The literature review commences by exploring the traditional foundations of corporate brand building (i.e. corporate values, culture and image) within the brand architecture framework. It goes on to recast the conventional concepts in the context of rebranding and presents a model that identifies the likely direction of effects of rebranding, over time, and up and down the different levels in the brand hierarchy. The case of Diageo Ireland is used as a ‘critical’ case to explore the relationships suggested by our model. This case illustrates a rebranding strategy that has removed an immediate connection between a corporation, the ex-Guinness Ireland Group, and one of its main products, Guinness stout. The results and analysis of the case reveal themes that challenge conventional ideas on corporate brand building. Literature review The manner in which product brands and corporate brands relate – the type of brand architecture – determines the relative importance of corporate culture and values as a source of competitive advantage. A brand hierarchy or architecture is traditionally made up of a corporate brand, for instance Nestle or Volkswagen A.G., a family brand such as Buitoni or Skoda, an individual brand like Octavia and, finally, a modifier, for instance Light or TDI (Keller, 1998). The various relations can be illustrated along a spectrum from the ‘branded house’ to the ‘house of brands’, including ‘endorsed brands’ and ‘subbrands’ (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000). Most companies employ mixed strategies but it is useful to characterize the two extremes for the sake of clarity. In a branded house, the corporate or master brand is sometimes the only driver or at least the dominant driver of external images (Saunders & Guoqun, 1997). The master brand is applied as the name for all of the products or services offered. Virgin provides a typical example: Virgin Cola, Virgin Music, Virgin Airlines and Virgin Jeans. Other examples include Honda, Philips and Heinz. In such a structure, there is a two way flow of images: corporate brands take on values from the corporation’s culture and heritage (Aaker, 2004) as well as from the product portfolio (Brown & Dacin, 1997). Perceptions of the corporate brand influence the product image (Berens, van Riel, & van Bruggen, 2005) and perceptions of the product brand are used to evaluate corporate reputation (Fombrun, Gardberg et al., 2000).
  4. 4. Journal of Strategic Marketing 285 A ‘house of brands’, on the contrary, is made up of a number of different brands aggregated under a separate corporate name. For instance, Procter and Gamble is the owner of brands as diverse and disconnected as the dog food Iams, the laundry powders Ariel and Tide, the toothpaste Crest, the paper towel Bounty and the diapers Pampers. Here, brand marketing focuses mainly on individual product brand management. The corporate owner of the brands is not closely tied to its brands. The brands stand apart and are the principal point of contact with the consumers. The traditional organisation of the corporation is separated into brand marketing units which further distance the corporate brand from the consumers (Knox, 2004). One supposed benefit of separating the corporate brand from its individual product brands is that it reduces the reciprocal effect of adverse publicity (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000; Laforet & Saunders, 1994; Rao et al., 2004). However, this is questionable since consumers are quite likely to know the identity of the corporation behind the product offerings (Fombrun & van Riel, 2004). Despite clever contrived product brand propositions, consumers’ images might also be influenced byDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 corporate behaviour or ‘corporate associations’ (Fombrun & van Riel, 2004). The concept of brand architecture is a useful diagnostic framework to help map the often complex collection of brands owned by large companies. However, it is essentially a static framework that provides a snapshot of the current architecture. It provides no insight or direction on how this structure does or should evolve over time, either as a whole or in its constituent parts. In other words, it is not very useful in providing a horizontal or longitudinal view of evolving brand architectures. Neither does it offer much understanding of the vertical interactions among the levels within the hierarchy. It cannot help in establishing the degree to which the corporate brand influences the product brands or vice versa. In reality, of course, brand architectures are evolving all the time, partly as a result of gradual changes in corporate and brand images that are outside the control of the corporation but also due to structural changes following from acquisitions and sales of brands. Industry restructuring and changing market dynamics have forced many companies to re-evaluate critically how the various pieces of the brand portfolio fit together. This has provoked a wave of rebrandings, usually at the corporate level, but sometimes also at the product level (Muzellec & Lambkin, 2006). Rebranding strategies: brand integration or separation Two broad strategic approaches can be observed among companies going through this process. The first and most common is an integration strategy – to unite the corporation and its constituent businesses and products under a single name or master brand. The second is the opposite of the first and might be described as a separation strategy, driven by a desire to distance the corporate brand from its constituent businesses and products. The Guinness/Diageo rebranding is an example of the latter. The first strategy – integration – is a direct result of the trend towards consolidation that is happening in many industries. A majority of the mergers and acquisitions that bring about consolidation are pursued in order to build scale and market share. To exploit the benefit of this increased market power requires greater corporate visibility and the simplest and most usual way of achieving this is to unite all acquired businesses under the one corporate name, usually that of the acquirer. For example, Vodafone and HSBC have gradually rebranded all of their local
  5. 5. 286 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin Figure 1. A dynamic rebranding model. business units until all trade under a single name. In those cases, the brand architecture evolves towards a ‘branded house’ structure. The second scenario is when a rebranding exercise is carried out in a deliberateDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 attempt to create a separation between the corporate brand and its constituent sub- units, such as the rebranding of Philip Morris as Altria or GuinnessUDV as Diageo. In fact, a recent study by Laforet and Saunders (2005) has shown that many companies are moving away from corporate branding strategies to favour mixed branding tactics (endorsed brands). The authors speculate that this evolution is due to the need to balance the advantages of corporate dominant tactics such as cost- efficiency with their disadvantages (risk of reputation loss) but they do not investigate this assumption. These two scenarios may be summarised in a new, dynamic rebranding model, shown in Figure 1. This model rests on the following set of assumptions. First, differences in image can be examined horizontally by contrasting corporate images before and after rebranding, that is, under the old and new corporate names. Second, the vertical dimension of the brand hierarchy is considered. The interrelation between corporate images and product brand images is also explored, first in a branded house context, then in a house of brands context. This model takes into consideration the evolution of brand architecture subsequent to a rebranding at the corporate level. Image transfer effects indicate that when the product and the corporation share the same name, transfers from one level to the other can be expected. This means that corporate images are driven by product images and, reciprocally, product images are also the result of corporate images, at least on some dimensions. Brand separation, in contrast, refers to the type of relationship among products and corporate brand in a ‘house of brands’ configuration: when the two entities are separated by a different name. As a result, their respective images are expected to become independent of one another. The case of Guinness/Diageo is used to illustrate the gradual move of a well-known corporate and product brand away from a branded house structure towards two distinct entities, becoming a house of brands. Horizontal dynamics: changing from one corporate name to another The literature on brand name and corporate identity implies that a new name along with a new visual identity can help to create new image associations (Klink, 2001;
  6. 6. Journal of Strategic Marketing 287 Muzellec, 2005). It may do so by projecting the company distinctiveness through the total corporate communication mix (advertising, press conferences and releases, staged media events, etc.) to impress external audiences (Schultz & Hatch, 2001). In sum, the perception of an organisation will vary depending on its name (i.e. Guinness or Diageo). Vertical dynamics: image transfer between the levels of the brand hierarchy The role played by the name in building images from the corporate to the product level and vice versa is now considered. A rebranding is the opportunity to measure and relate corporate and product image when the two share the same name and when the two share different names and to measure potential image transfers from one name to the other. Studies by Berens et al. (2005) and Brown and Dacin (1997) have indicated that corporate associations do influence product imagery. By corollary, once theDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 corporate brand has been isolated from its product (via a change of name of the corporation), the images of product and corporation should become independent from each other. In sum, the images of the corporation will not be derived from the product and vice versa. While the academic literature has mainly focused on the difficulties of the rebranding process (Lomax & Mador, 2006; Merrilees, 2005; Muzellec & Lambkin, 2006), and the overall complexity of corporate brand building (Balmer & Greyser, 2003), it has not yet taken into consideration the impact of such strategy on other elements of the brand hierarchy. Drawing on insights from the literature on brand architecture and reputation (Dacin & Brown, 2006; Laforet & Saunders, 2005), this paper seeks to fulfil this gap by studying rebranding in the dynamic context of a evolution of the brand relationship spectrum. The transformation of the Guinness plc into Diageo was one of the first instances in which a large, multinational company deliberately pursued a strategy of separating its corporate brand from its product brand portfolio. It therefore presents an interesting case study to explore in order to try to understand the driving forces behind this strategy and the image effects that resulted. That case is explored in some detail in the following sections of this paper. Methodology A case study-qualitative-approach was chosen because of the exploratory nature of the research and of the empirical necessity to investigate the phenomenon within its real-life context. Corporate branding, identity and values are diffuse concepts embedded in a particular context (Czarniawska, 2000). A single ‘critical’ or ‘instrumental’ case can infer those concepts through qualitative data analysis. Reliance on a single case might limit the generalisability of the findings; however, a case study may be used as a way to modify existing generalisations (Roche, 1997; Stake, 1995). The choice of Diageo was governed by two main factors. First, Guinness was a very strong, iconic corporate name with a lengthy heritage and a high degree of positive emotional attachment (Byrne, 1999; Griffiths, 2004). Disregarding a name with more than 200 years of positive history to adopt a new, contrived name obviously challenges the notion that corporate brand equity is built through
  7. 7. 288 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin consistency and years of sustained investment. Second, access to internal data was a key criterion in the choice; the two researchers knew several key informants within the corporation who provided further contacts with other senior managers as well as much valuable data. The data included internal memos issued at the time of the rebranding, ‘Corporate Brand Tracker’ reports, Diageo Ireland and Northern Ireland annual reports (years 1998–2005), the Diageo Code of Marketing Practice for Alcohol Beverages (2003), Diageo corporate websites (; and Guinness brand website (, Diageo and Guinness brand commu- nication material (advertisements, visits to St James’ Gate Guinness Storehouse), press clippings from the Irish Times, in particular, the Irish Times supplement on ‘Diageo in Ireland’ from Thursday, 8 September 2005. Secondary data were also collected from Fast Company, Marketing News and a variety of websites such as,, all accessed in 2005 as well as books and videos referenced hereafter.Downloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 The data also consisted of semi-structured recorded interviews with seven key informants who were all managers involved in the administration of the corporate brand and/or the product brands: one senior executive of the company, two senior managers in charge of the ‘corporate brand’, and four managers in charge of product branding. Interviews took place between February 2005 and November 2005 and lasted between 1 hour and to 1 hour 45 minutes each. The topics covered by the questions were threefold. The first set of questions pertained to the rebranding process of GuinnessUDV as Diageo Ireland. The second series of questions pertained to the description and evolution of the corporate culture and values as well as product brand values over the past ten years. The third series of questions related to the interaction between the two levels of branding, before and after the rebranding. The guidelines provided by Miles and Hubermann (1994) were followed in the interests of improving the validity of the results of this qualitative study. Borrowing from Carney (1990), Miles and Hubermann talk about a ladder of abstraction where the researcher starts with a text and codes the text into categories, then moves on to identify trends and themes, then to test hunches and delineate deep structures. Interviews were taped and transcripts subsequently made of each interview. Additional documents such as annual reports and internal memos were screened to retain information pertaining to the issue under investigation. The documents were sorted using matrices and coded in the following categories: history or general information about the rebranding context; processes; perceptions of the situation; and finally strategies and visions, which embody the more formal discourse and views illustrating the brand strategy. This classification was conducted for the three brand elements under investigation, i.e. Diageo, corporate brand Guinness and product brand Guinness. The information was placed in a matrix that allows the identification of differences in the way those brands were managed. The information gathered was then clustered to move to the next level of abstraction. This process, which is one of data transformation, led to the organisation of the rebranding experience of Diageo under the three themes: the debranding of Guinness Corporation; Diageo, a business brand with socially responsible values; Guinness Stout, a product as the custodian of an inherited corporate social ethos. Those themes were then used to modify generalisations about the vertical/horizontal dynamic rebranding model initially envisaged.
  8. 8. Journal of Strategic Marketing 289 Context Before introducing the results, it is useful to describe briefly the rebranding context and the history of Guinness Stout and Guinness Ireland. Despite the fact that the corporate headquarters of Guinness plc was based in London and that the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange, Guinness Ireland benefited from an exceptionally high level of support from the Irish people. As the corporation and the main product shared the same name, ‘Guinness’ was omni-present in Irish life. The concluding remarks of Gay Byrne of the video documentary ‘Guinness times: The story of the Guinness brewery’ summarizes it well: ‘Ireland has been good for Guinness and Guinness has been good for us.’ This impression was very much influenced by the fact that Guinness had over the years been an extremely good corporate citizen both internally and externally. In 1997, Guinness plc merged with Grand Metropolitan to form Diageo plc. Like many rebrandings, the adoption of a new name was triggered by a change in the financial structure of the corporation. At the corporate level, the name change wasDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 considered a necessity because of the need to give a name to a new corporate giant, which owned a variety of brands all over the world. Grand Met-Guinness had operations in 180 markets (Diageo Annual Report, 1998). The new entity was also involved in a variety of market sectors including spirits, wine and beer, but also packaged food and fast food, which comprised Pillsbury, Totinos Pizza, Green Giant, Haagen Daaz and Burger King. The new name was to provide a single roof over a house that was now hosting a complex collection of brands. The new name at the corporate level (i.e. London) was now Diageo. By 2000, the decision was taken to integrate the various business units. Guinness (Ireland) had already formally merged with United Distillers and Vintners to form GuinnessUDV (Figure 2). In 2001, following a brief internal debate, the executive board of Diageo plc decided that the Irish operations would have to change their name to Diageo Ireland: ‘the debate was between the heritage of the Guinness name and the necessity to reflect our global brand. But in the end, it was the global aspect that prevailed.’ The implementation of the change, however, was left to the Irish management. From a brand architecture standpoint, the merger meant that Guinness stout had become just one of eight global priority brands.1 The imperative of reflecting a change of scope and scale in the company’s operation was effectively the main driving force behind the rebranding of Diageo. Data analysis The results of a content analysis of the data are presented under the headings corresponding to the horizontal change in the brand architecture, that is, a change in Figure 2. Business logos Ireland (1997–2002).
  9. 9. 290 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin the corporate brand image over time following a name change; and vertical change in the brand architecture, that is, a change in the relationships between the corporate and product brands. Horizontal change: the corporate image before and after the name change The effects on corporate image uncovered by this analysis fall broadly into two stages, first, a debranding stage in which some of the old values are cast off; and then a rebranding stage in which the new name becomes imbued with a new and slightly different set of values. Each will be discussed in turn. Corporate debranding: shedding outmoded corporate values The first underlying theme that emerged from the analysis of the data is the notion of corporate debranding. This idea is informed by two parallel phenomena. On the one hand, the omni-presence of the Guinness corporate brand in Ireland has graduallyDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 decreased; on the other hand, Diageo has not been built up as a strong corporate brand and has not compensated for this reduction of the company’s presence in Irish life. This is the result of an evolution in the corporate branding strategy. The flip side of Guinness’s omni-presence in Ireland is that Irishness is also imbued in the Guinness name, which is not necessarily an advantage for the corporate brand. The data revealed that the sense of ownership that Irish people developed over Guinness actually restrained the freedom of action of the corporation. In accordance with standard corporate brand models (Schultz & Hatch, 2003; Urde, 2003), corporate branding at Guinness Ireland had been traditionally rooted in the core values, the culture and history of the company. Although the rebranding was not triggered by a will to ‘debrand’ Guinness – the name Guinness had always been considered by Irish managers as an asset more than a liability – a shift in the brand proposition became a managerial necessity in recent years. Guinness carried an emotional burden that was antithetical to the needs of a modern, international company: Issues revolving around corporate sponsorship epitomise this rebranding paradox. Guinness traditionally sponsored events that were at the core of Irish life such as the ‘Rose of Tralee’ (a nation-wide beauty/personality competition). The sponsorship was aligned with the traditional ethos of Guinness Corporation in terms of community support and social activity. However, it allied the corporation with a good but old-fashioned image inconsistent with the vision of an imaginative up-to- date corporation. With the exception of the Wexford Festival Opera, which is sponsored by Diageo, most national events are now sponsored by specific product brands such as Budweiser (Irish Derby), Cork Jazz Festival (Guinness) or Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots (Carlsberg). The name Guinness triggered high expectations that a modern corporation was unwilling to assume. As Guinness (corporation) gradually pulled out of Irish life, however, it was not being replaced by Diageo. The new name received limited brand support and customers had no contact with the brand. According to Diageo senior management, Diageo means ‘every day, everywhere’. The meaning of the new name is so broad that it can be considered as neutral or meaningless (Brook, 2002). Furthermore, the Latin form of the name fails to differentiate this corporate brand name from the multitude of other newly created corporate brand names. Using Latin-coined names
  10. 10. Journal of Strategic Marketing 291 to express universal values such as liveliness and unity is a common characteristic of many rebranded corporations (Muzellec, 2005). As a result of this strategy, the new corporate name has limited brand awareness and low levels of brand knowledge, which are two fundamental constituents of brand equity (Kapferer, 1995; Keller, 1998). The corporate brand went from being omnipresent in Irish life to being almost invisible as there is no brand endorsement. In July 2004, a survey indicated that 61% of respondents were not at all or not very familiar with Diageo. In comparison, a year following the name change, Guinness (which had officially disappeared as a corporate entity) was familiar or very familiar for 74% of the respondents (Diageo, 2005: Corporate Brand Tracker no. 5). The debranding of Guinness Corporation, however, gave more flexibility to the management of the corporate and product brands. This freedom is a characteristic of individual/mono brands (Laforet & Saunders, 2005). The new corporate identity ‘Diageo’ was not targeted at consumers and the change was intended not to affect consumers. The Diageo Brand Committee (DBC) identified eight key stakeholderDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 groupings which included employees, investors, government, community, media, customers, suppliers, joint venture partners (JVPs), but excluded the actual consumers of Diageo’s product. In sum, the rebranding of Guinness as Diageo has resulted in a change in the level of awareness and in the elaborateness of brand associations, in other words, there has been a weakening of the corporate brand equity. If corporate branding is about placing the corporation in the spotlight (Fombrun & van Riel, 2004), the move from Guinness to Diageo can be considered as a debranding. This view challenges traditional corporate brand building theory, which focuses mainly on building awareness and associations (Aaker, 2004; Biehal & Sheinin, 2001; Hatch & Schultz, 2003). Corporate debranding is about undoing consumers’ expectations by erasing a corporate heritage antithetical to the needs and objective of an up-to-date corporation. The constraints associated with the everyday running of a successful business meant that it was difficult for a modern corporate brand to live up to the expectations created by 250 years of positive social contributions (Simmons, 2006). By debranding ‘corporate brand Guinness’ gradually rather than abruptly, however, those positive associations are left to linger in the consumers’ mind. Hence, the corporate brand tracker shows that two years following the rebranding the Irish population continues to grade positively a non-existent company, the remembered corporate brand (Guinness Corporation) continues to outscore the real company (Diageo Ireland). Corporate rebranding: building a business brand with socially responsible values If visibility is a key component of the ‘corporate covenant’ (Balmer & Greyser, 2003), ethos and culture should also be at the heart of corporate brand values (Balmer, 1998). The corporate ethos of Guinness Ireland historically referred to ‘philanthropy and patronage’. This corporate culture was reminiscent of the mind-set of the Guinness family who over the years gave liberally to charitable works (Wilson, 1998). Diageo corporate culture is far less benevolent and more financially driven. The brand Diageo is a finance-oriented brand … The company thinks in terms of financial methods and approaches and a very structured approach of doing business … thinking in terms of shareholder value; the underlying mindset in a way that I have not seen in other companies. But that means providing support for this, a group of
  11. 11. 292 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin financially aware people to do the job and think that way. (Respondent F, Personal Interview, 5 August 2005) To avoid unfavourable corporate associations, the brand Diageo is being marketed mainly towards stakeholders other than consumers. The brand Diageo is keen to develop an image of a ‘successful, global, innovative, trustworthy and socially responsible’ corporate brand. The committee has set the objective for the ‘Diageo brand to become a business icon for the 21st century, famous for its world class people, brands and performance’ (Diageo Ireland, 22 June 2004: Stakeholder Tracker, Wave I Findings). If corporate associations such as ‘Ambition’, ‘Power’ and ‘Performance’ do not constitute an attractive position for consumers, a ‘successful and innovative’ business brand is an appealing proposition for Diageo’s business partners. The Diageo name is used as a means to enhance the profile of business partners. However, if the ethos of the corporation had substantially changed, the evolution of corporate values reflected in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmeDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 has been far subtler. The espoused values in terms of community support are articulated thus: ‘Inherent to Diageo’s approach to business is the belief that the countries and community in which it operates should benefit from its presence’ (Diageo in Ireland, 2005). Following the merger, those CSR programmes continued. GrandMet Foundation became the Diageo Foundation; Guinness initiatives such as the Digital Media Hub and the Liberties Learning Initiative were also branded under the name Diageo. Additional initiatives reinforce the business image of Diageo while capitalising on the traditional values of Guinness in terms of corporate support. The second aspect of the CSR programme is industry-related and pertains to the problem of irresponsible drinking. Here the CSR programme (and its promotion) is driven by the need for an alcohol company to be perceived as a responsible participant in society. The slogan ‘Diageo: drink responsibly’ is regularly promoted towards the general public and the media. Along with the ‘Don’t see a great night wasted’ campaign, a recent initiative was the addition to the Guinness Storehouse of a ‘Choice Zone’, which challenges visitors to think about their own consumption habits and behaviour. The combination of community support and corporate sponsorship has led to a corporate programme that is more aligned with the overall corporate strategy. Diageo evaluates its CSR programme by measuring stakeholders’ attitudes and behaviour both at the business unit level (such as the TNS mrbi, report, Diageo Ireland Stakeholder Tracker) and at the corporate level by adopting a share value approach to its CSR policies. Such a level of sophistication in the evaluation of business and social outcomes of a CSR programme is exceptional (Knox, Maklan et al., 2005). This second theme of a business brand combining a ‘hard nosed’ culture with ‘socially responsible’ values seems to run counter to the idea of corporate brand alignment between vision, values, culture and images (Hatch & Schultz, 2001). At least with regard to culture and values, the rebranding may be regarded as a misalignment among those constitutive elements of the corporate brand. Vertical effects on the brand architecture: the product becomes the custodian of the corporate heritage The evolution of the brand architecture has also allowed the product brand to capitalise fully on the Guinness name. As the sole entity that can be referred to as ‘Guinness’, the
  12. 12. Journal of Strategic Marketing 293 product brand has become the custodian of Guinness’s corporate heritage. The Guinness corporate heritage of being ‘people-orientated’ as well as the Irish roots of the Guinness dynasty finds its way into the brand image of Guinness Stout. The mapping of consumer perceptions of the Guinness brand identified three pillars that constitute the essence of the brand Guinness. Those three pillars are: goodness; power; and communion (Griffiths, 2004). Arguably, goodness and communion are partly inherited from the corporate brand Guinness. A brand manager explains that Goodness is about: The great brewing heritage, the finest ingredients, but also there is something about the honesty of the brand, in terms of being active in the community, the legacy of the company, Guinness built houses for its workers all around here, also corporate sponsorship events, cultural events throughout Ireland that Guinness has organised. (Respondent E, Personal Interview, 5 May 2005) Those values are a direct enunciation of the 250 years of positive social involvement of the corporate brand. As the Guinness corporate brand disappearsDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 and leaves the way open for a new type of corporate brand, some of the values embodied in corporate brand Guinness are being carried on at the product level. Advertising carefully and subtly reinforces those inherited, positive historical associations. In recent years, advertisements for Guinness have been focusing on the ‘great brewing heritage’ and insist on the quality of the Guinness pint. The third pillar, ‘Communion’, is mainly derived from the way the product is being consumed, that is, ‘the way for people to get together through conversation, people connecting with one another; after a soccer game, after a wedding, after work on the Friday evening’ (Respondent E, Personal Interview, 5 May 2005). Yet, the corporate heritage also plays a minor role as it is ‘a little bit about community’ hence communion is also about the role played by Guinness in the communities in which the company is implanted in Ireland and around the world. The philanthropic heritage of the Guinness Corporation is captured and reflected at the product level. Interestingly, some marketing managers at Diageo acknowledge that the separation between the product brand and the corporate brand mitigates the risk associated with modern business life: Companies make tough decisions during their operating life. We have to make decisions about manufacturing capacities, production capacities, maybe close down inefficient sites, sometimes they could be good decisions such as increasing the capacity of the Dublin brewery and actually increasing the number of jobs here. Although I don’t think that good news pushes people to drink more Guinness. The alternative is that if we start making people redundant, I would prefer that it is associated with the name Diageo rather than Guinness. (Respondent E, Personal Interview, 5 May 2005) The corporate brand is seen as a shield and the social heritage embodied in the name ‘Guinness’ preferably transferred to the equity of the product brand. This last finding is consistent with the idea that in a ‘house of brands’ type of configuration, the values of the brands and the corporation may be distanced. The idea of a symbiosis of values between the corporation and the product brand, which is implicit in the concept of the branded house (Urde, 2003), can be discarded. Interestingly, it seems that the evolution of the brand architecture has transformed Guinness stout as the custodian of some of the inherited corporate values. The burden inherent in those values (philanthropy, corporate responsibility) has remained at the corporate level.
  13. 13. 294 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin Discussion and conclusions The Guinness/Diageo case has revealed some insights in the area of corporate brand building and the management of the different audiences of the brands. The traditional academic view suggests a reliance on heritage in building the corporate brand (Aaker, 2004; Argenti & Druckenmiller, 2004; Schultz & Hatch, 2001). Many corporations leverage their heritage by re-interpreting their traditional symbols in a contemporary light. For example, Well’s Fargo stagecoach roots, the HP garage or Thomas Edison’s legacy for GE are being used to improve consumers’ corporate associations (Aaker, 2004). In the case of Diageo, in contrast, the corporate brand is geared towards present and future aspirations; the change of name effectively pushes the corporate heritage down to the product level. Ironically, the emergence of ‘corporate branding’ in the vocabulary of Diageo senior management has coincided with the evaporation of corporate awareness and associations in the mind of consumers. If corporate branding is about placing the corporation in the spotlight (Fombrun & van Riel,Downloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 2004), and if brands exist once they are present in the mind of customers (Keller, 1998), one might question the brand status of Diageo. But this contention leads necessarily to a re-assessment of traditional views on corporate branding. Corporate rebranding and product branding at Diageo have been characterised by a sequential and differentiated approach towards theirs various audiences. This approach seems to run counter to the arguments in the literature in which most authors argue for alignment across time and across stakeholder groups (Morsing & Kristensen, 2001), consistency among culture, vision and images (Schultz & Hatch, 2003), and synergies between culture and values (Urde, 1999, 2003). This study leads to an alternative argument, which is that a certain degree of asymmetry may be positive in that it allows corporations to maximise the relevance of the corporate brand message for each audience. An asymmetrical approach to corporate branding means permitting different images for different stakeholders. In this view, corporate branding can be conceived of as a prism through which the corporation is being perceived differently depending on the stakeholder perspective. The case shows that corporate branding is about promoting a corporate agenda. In this context, far from seeking synergies between product and corporate level, disassociation and differentiation of the two strategies are consciously fostered. The combination of the three underlying themes: corporate debranding, building a business brand with socially responsible values, and the product as the custodian of a lost corporate ethos, shows how the marketing paradox is overcome. Consumers’ emotional attachment may be a valuable asset at the product level (Fournier, 1998); yet at the corporate level it can be a burden. An evolution of the brand architecture towards a ‘house of brands’ allows the corporation to reflect more accurately its corporate reality. By following a low key, gradual process (no big advertising campaign), the corporation is managing corporate associations carefully, which allows the positive opinions of the now disappeared company to linger in the consumer’s mind. Corporate images have changed while product brand equity has remained. This process leads to a redefinition of corporate branding and its relationships with consumers. The type of corporate brand uncovered by the case could be called a ‘trade or business brand’. A business brand is more than a simple trade name over a house of
  14. 14. Journal of Strategic Marketing 295Downloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 Figure 3. Business and product brands: different target audiences. brands (such as P&G) but it is not a full corporate brand (such as 3M, Heinz or Danone) because it is not visible to consumers. Yet it is a strong name with various associations for various stakeholders, hence the corporation could be granted the status of a brand. Trade or business branding focuses then quasi-exclusively on trade stakeholders and other social partners (e.g. government, media) while the relation- ship between consumers and the brands is nurtured at the product level. This multidimensional approach to branding means promoting different images for different stakeholders. This scheme is illustrated in Figure 3. In this framework, the company shapes a specific image (e.g. ‘forward thinking, innovative, financially driven’) for its shareholders and suppliers. This image is imbued with a ‘results-oriented’ corporate culture. In parallel, the image of a ‘socially responsible corporation’ is promoted towards government and the general public. The socially responsible claim is supported by corporate historical values of philanthropy and charity. As for consumers, the company is content to hide behind its brands. The relationship between the corporation and the consumers is weak or irrelevant while product brand relationships are strong and differentiated. Managerial implications The findings of this research have significant managerial implications. Corporate brands are a complex combination of culture, values, vision and images, which are not easily compatible with a big bang approach implicit in major name changes.
  15. 15. 296 L. Muzellec and M. Lambkin Culture, values, vision and images evolve over time to the point that it may require the corporate brand to change the way in which it is communicated. To reflect this gradual evolution, the introduction of a new corporate brand should be gradual as well. The reality of a corporation starts to change prior to a change of name and continues afterwards. In the case of a merger, companies have first to integrate various operations and corporate cultures (which is what Guinness did while it adopted the name GuinnessUDV). Once that process has been completed, it can change its name more radically. As the company continues to act as it did before the change of name, it can mitigate the negative impact of introducing a radically new name. By adopting a stealth strategy of this kind, the equity of the product/corporate name is less likely to be damaged. The cost-efficiency of collective communications and the benefit of a shared reputation and (positive) image transfer may entice companies to move towards ‘branded house’ architecture (Laforet & Saunders, 2005). However, those strategiesDownloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 also present some risks. For example, the move from BSN to the Danone Group has increased the company’s exposure, which may now be more prone to boycott when it takes a decision that is contradictory to its brand proposition (Klein, Smith et al., 2004). Another example is Nestle whose use of the little nest as being maternal, loving and warm is cancelled out by negative reactions to the marketing of milk unsuitable for use in developing countries. This type of reputation risk, as well as loose positioning and the failure to leverage the equity of the corporate brand have prompted an increasing number of companies to move away from the branded house end of the spectrum (Kapferer, 2002; Laforet & Saunders, 2005). Yet rejecting traditional corporate brand models also has some reputation implications (Schultz, Hatch et al., 2000; Balmer & Greyser, 2003). Brands are not immune from the criticism of governments, activists and consumer associations (cf. No logo – Klein, 2000). As a result the corporations behind those brands need to be perceived as responsible citizens (Fombrun & van Riel, 2004; Holt, 2002). The notion of the business or trade brand reconciles the need for corporate accountability, risk limitation and efficient corporate and brand management. The framework proposed may be used as a template for companies willing to constrain their relationship with customers at the product brand level while developing an independent corporate brand for the relationships with other stakeholders. While corporate brands are affected by mergers and acquisitions, diversification and divestment, individual (product) brands retain a stable relationship focus with consumers. On the other hand, the need for greater accountability is satisfied through the corporate branding of the CSR programme towards government and the general public. Because of this separation, the socially responsible actions of the corporation are not leveraged at product/consumer level, but the separation acts as a firewall in case of corporate behaviour (e.g. firing off workers) antithetical to the product brand proposition. Limitations and directions for further research The principal limitation is related to the use of a single case study. Although the case study approach has allowed us to gain a deep insight on the phenomenon of corporate
  16. 16. Journal of Strategic Marketing 297 rebranding, this may have been at the expense of generalisability. For example, the branding of the CSR programme towards the general public and government but not towards consumers might be a particular feature of the alcohol industry but not of others. Yet, considering the strong criticism of global corporations and their alleged lack of accountability, the model might still be used as a template for any global company that has to be both accountable to its shareholders and to society at large. In order to be able to generalise the findings, multiple case studies of various companies in various industries in different countries would be necessary and this would constitute a worthwhile direction for future research. Note 1. Other priority brands are Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Baileys, J&B Whiskey, Captain Morgan Rum, Jose Cuervo tequila and Tanqueray gin.Downloaded By: [Dublin City University] At: 17:00 25 August 2008 References Aaker, D.A. (2000). Brand Leadership. New York/London: Free Press. Aaker, D.A. (2004). Leveraging the corporate brand. California Management Review, 46(3), 6–20. Aaker, D.A., & Joachimsthaler, E. (2000). The brand relationship spectrum: The key to the brand architecture challenge. California Management Review, 42(4), 8–23. Argenti, P.A., & Druckenmiller, B. (2004). Reputation and corporate brand. Corporate Reputation Review, 6(4), 368–374. Balmer, J.M.T. (1998). Corporate identity and the advent of corporate marketing. Journal of Marketing Management, 14(8), 963–996. Balmer, J.M.T., & Greyser, S.A. (2003). Revealing the corporation: Perspectives on identity, image, reputation, corporate branding and corporate-level marketing. London: Routledge. Balmer, J.M.T., & Soenen, G.B. (1999). The acid test of corporate identity management. Journal of Marketing Management, 15(1/3), 69–92. Berens, G., van Riel, C.B.M., & van Bruggen, G.H. (2005). Corporate associations and consumer product responses: The moderating role of corporate brand dominance. Journal of Marketing, 69(3), 35–48. Biehal, G.J., & Sheinin, D.A. (2001). Building Corporate Brands: An Exploratory Study (40: (01–100)). Cambridge, MA: Marketing Science Institute. Available at Brook, S. (2002). The pitfalls of rebranding. Financial Times. London. p. 12. Brown, T.J., & Dacin, P.A. (1997). The company and the product: Corporate associations and consumer product responses. Journal of Marketing, 61(1), 68–84. Byrne, A. (1999). Guinness Times. Dublin: Town House Dublin. Byrne, G., & Byrne, A. (2001). Guinness Times [Video Documentary]. Ireland: Chrysalis Distribution: 60 min. Carney, T.F. (1990). Collaborative inquiry methodology. Ontario, Canada: Division for Instructional Development. Chun, R., & Davies, G. (2006). The influence of corporate character on customers and employees: Exploring similarities and differences. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(2), 138–146. Czarniawska, B. (2000). Identity lost or identity found? Celebration and lamentation over the post-modern view of identity in social science and fiction. In M. Schultz, M.J. Hatch & M.H. Larsen (Eds.), The expressive organisation: Linking identity, reputation and the corporate brand. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dacin, P.A., & Brown, T.J. (2006). Corporate branding, identity and customer response. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(2), 95–99.