In this article, we call for increased focus on the historicity of corporate heritage brands, emphasizing that perceptions of the past in the present do change as time goes by. Building on the idea of corporate brand historicity, we introduce the notion of “Negative Heritage Brand Equity” to capture the historically contingent downside potentially associated with corporate heritage brands. We use the Danish consumer-cooperative COOP as an exemplary corporate heritage brand whose heritage has become historically balanced at the threshold between asset and liability. Based on a longitudinal analysis of COOP’s heritage, we demonstrate how the entwinement of the company’s corporate heritage brand and Danish culture and identity worked to the benefit of COOP in some historical epochs but have become increasingly misaligned with its political and cultural-economic environment since the 1980s. As the cultural, political, and economic environments changed throughout COOP’s 120 years of history, so did the nature of COOP’s corporate heritage brand, which with the passing of time, negatively impacted on COOP’s image and constrained the company’s strategic options.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 11. May 2018
- Corporate branding
- National identity
- Heritage brand
- Negative heritage brand equity
- Brand historicity
- Danish cooperatives