The destructive side of branding: A heuristic model for analyzing the value of branding practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholarship on branding has made important contributions in terms of the value-creating function of branding. However, previous literature has overemphasized the creation of value for organizations at the expense of an understanding of the destructive side of branding for organizations and society. Drawing on the work of Boltanski and Thevénot, we theorize value as different in separate ‘worlds of worth’ and offer a competing approach, arguing that the organizational practice of branding simultaneously and inevitably involves value-destructive aspects. In addition, to enable analysis of these value-destructive aspects, we argue that new understandings of what branding is are needed, and therefore, we introduce two new metaphors: branding as discursive closure and branding as hypocrisy. Based on these conceptual developments, the article offers a heuristic model for analyzing how, and what types of, value may be destroyed in organizational branding practice. We thereby contribute with a critical understanding of organizational branding that acknowledges the conflictual relationship between value regimes and enables a balanced analysis of the social consequences of branding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-281
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration

Free keywords

  • branding
  • destruction
  • discursive closure
  • hypocrisy
  • value


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