Conceptualising the notion of corporate
Lagos Business School, Pan African University, Lagos, Nigeria
Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, and
Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Lagos, Nigeria
Purpose – This paper aims to theorise the concept of corporate brand covenant.
Design/methodology/approach – Christian theology is drawn on to deﬁne and identify the source of the notion of covenant. Similarly, a review of
the literature on the meaning and management of corporate branding is presented. Following a thorough review of the literature, the notion of a
corporate brand covenant is conceptualised and discussed. This is ﬁrmly supported by a semiotic deconstruction of a corporate advertisement from
Findings – Six important ﬁndings emerged from the study. The ﬁrst is the Christian theological insight into the notion of covenant. This ﬁnding drew
the attention of corporate branding academics to the source of this phenomenon. Second, a total of six cardinal principles (initial scenario; a covenanter,
a covenant and a covenantee; the covenant is binding on all parties; the covenant is perpetual; the covenant is irreversible; the covenant stems from
God and is then handed on to man) were proposed. Third, a template highlighting how the biblical covenant is managed was conceptualised. Fourth,
six mandatory components of corporate branding: ﬁrm’s personality; corporate positioning; interactions; corporate communications; stakeholders;
corporate reputation/image; were identiﬁed. Fifth, an integrative framework highlighting the points of linkages between the biblical covenant and the
corporate brand-oriented covenant was developed. Sixth, a new deﬁnition of corporate brand covenant was suggested and supported by a semiotic
deconstruction of HSBC’s corporate advertising campaign.
Research limitations/implications – There is little literature devoted to corporate brand covenant. The majority of works addressing this concept
have done so anecdotally. Thus,by addressing this phenomenon via a Christian theological lens, the study solidiﬁes the corporate branding literature,
which at the moment lacks a strong foundation in social science theory.
Practical implications – Practitioners are encouraged to remember that the successful management of a corporate brand begins with a thorough
understanding of what a corporate brand covenant means. An understanding of this concept will enable managers to deﬁne and deploy strategies that
will promote corporate branding issues.
Originality/value – The paper extends the frontiers of existing anecdotal discourse on corporate brand covenant. In so doing, a fuller and more robust
understanding of the concept of corporate branding among academics and practitioners is achieved.
Keywords Corporate branding, Christian theology, Covenants
Paper type Conceptual paper
An executive summary for managers and executive
readers can be found at the end of this article.
The meaning of corporate branding has attracted the interest
of academics and practitioners (de Chernatony, 1999),
especially since the publication of Stephen King’s (1991)
work on brand building in the 1990s, which highlights the
notion of the company brand. Thus, the meaning of this
concept has been viewed from a variety of perspectives.
A good example of the variety of dimensions in which the
meaning of the concept of corporate branding has been
viewed is fully documented in de Chernatony (1999, 2001).
Since the publication of de Chernatony’s (1999, 2001) works,
it appears that further attempts have been made by authors
(see Ka¨rreman and Rylander, 2008; Balmer, 2001a, b;
Argenti and Druckenmiller, 2004; Ind, 1997, 1998) to
develop an in-depth understanding of the meaning of this
One of the works that attempted to accomplish a further
understanding of this phenomenon in the aftermath of de
Chernatony’s (1999) study is Balmer’s (2001a) work, which
approached the meaning of corporate branding from an
internal and external stakeholder perspective. According to
Balmer’s (2001a, p. 281) deﬁnition, the concept of corporate
...involves the conscious decision by senior management to distil the
attributes of the organisation’s identity in the form of a clearly deﬁned
branding proposition. This proposition may be viewed as a covenant with
key stakeholder groups and networks. This covenant underpins
organisational efforts to communicate, differentiate and enhance the brand
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Journal of Product & Brand Management
19/6 (2010) 410–422
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]