Corporate brand as a contract with stakeholders – theology or pragmatism?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of brand contract in B2B from two perspectives: the theological and pragmatic.

Design/methodology/approach – A review of the branding literature challenges the dominant notion of the brand covenant as a firm driven, unilateral promise, referred to as a theological contract. The study adds to this the pragmatic perspective of a social contract, as deployed by the social sciences and IMP literatures. A tentative framework of a dialectical contract is developed through drawing on three cases of Chinese suppliers for the focal firm, IKEA.
Findings – First, both types of contract are identified in the firm’s practices. Second, the specific goals and roles of managers and suppliers in each contract are defined. The theological contract is used by managers to strengthen suppliers’ beliefs in the company’s vision and mission, while the pragmatic one
is employed by both parties for the implementation of the brand’s norms and brand equity. Third, a new framework for and the definition of a dual, dialectical brand contract in B2B are developed.
Practical implications – Managers are advised to mediate between the theological pledge of their brand and its pragmatic implementation.

Originality/value – The paper challenges the dominant theological discourse in extant branding literature and puts forward a dialectical approach as a new proposition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-886
Number of pages22
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration


  • pragmatism
  • social contract
  • core values
  • corporate brand
  • brand covenant
  • christian theology


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