Purpose: The aim of this paper is to understand the logics at work when companies establish their corporate brand identities. Essential to this quest is to understand the reasoning of which corporate traits to communicate. As a case in point we target firms that make reference to being a “family business” on their websites and investigate their decision to include this feature in corporate brand identity.
Design/methodology/approach: Interviews are made with 14 CEOs in 12 companies. Through discourse analysis, we identify three logics for the selection of corporate brand identity features; the habit, organic and intended logics. On account of these findings, we develop a three logics model of corporate brand identity formation; proposing differences between arbitrary, emergent and strategic processes.
Findings: Our results highlight how decisions that define corporate brand identity are not necessarily a consequence of rigorous marketing planning, but are sometimes made without concern for marketing matters.
Research limitations/implications: The current research is limited in terms of the sample size and geographic origin. The sample was chosen to vary in size and industry but primarily reflects small and medium-sized enterprises, all in a Swedish context. The focus on family business as facet of corporate brand identity is another limitation. Given the inescapable connection of the feature family business to individuals in the firm, it could imply a somewhat special case.
Originality/value: Research on corporate brand identity is still largely conceptual. Based on empirical exploration, our paper reveals that varying logics lead to corporate brand identity formation. We introduce a theoretical model to guide further research.