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Corporate heritage identities, corporate heritage brands and the multiple heritage identities of the British Monarchy

John M.T. Balmer (Brunel University, London, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 20 September 2011




This article scrutinises the nature and salience of corporate heritage identities via the lens of the British Monarchy. A corporate heritage identity framework is introduced. The heritage identity construct is positioned vis‐à‐vis other related constructs such as nostalgia, tradition, and custom.


An embedded case study informed by desktop research and a literature review of the British Monarchy and by an empirical‐collaborative study on the Swedish Monarchy. The paper is also informed by the literature on heritage and other historically‐related constructs.


The notion of relative invariance is introduced. The latter is important since it explains why heritage identities can remain the same and yet have changed, namely: The Relative Invariance Notion. Corporate heritage identities and brands are invested with special qualities in that they are a melding of identity continuity, identity change and are also invested with the identities of time (times past, present and future). Heritage identities are an accretion of various identities, which are variously linked to institutions, places, cultures, and to time frames. The notion of Institutional Role Identities is introduced. The study suggested that heritage identities have multiple institutional role identities. These identities can be utilised in various contexts and for a variety of purposes: this might account for their strength. One explanation of why heritage identities are powerful is because they meet customer and stakeholder needs by encapsulating and, importantly, by giving identity. Heritage identities, potentially, are an important dimension of a group's collective memory.

Practical implications

A revised corporate heritage identity framework relating to the British Monarchy is introduced. The model can be adapted so as to appraise our comprehension of corporate heritage identities in more general institutional contexts. The importance of bi‐lateral institutional and stakeholder trust to the framework and the need for (institution) heritage authenticity – or perceived authenticity – and stakeholder affinity are noted.


The paper focuses on heritage identities in institutional contexts and a distinction is made between corporate heritage identities and corporate heritage brands identities.



Balmer, J.M.T. (2011), "Corporate heritage identities, corporate heritage brands and the multiple heritage identities of the British Monarchy", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 45 No. 9/10, pp. 1380-1398.



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