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“Outposts of Britain” the General Post Office and the birth of a corporate iconic brand, 1930-1939

Michael Heller (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, London, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 11 April 2016

965

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the development of an iconic corporate brand by the General Post Office (GPO) in Britain in the 1930s by adapting the work of Douglas Holt (2004).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a historical approach by developing a historical case study. It combines this historical approach with Holt’s theory and writing on iconic branding and the current literature on corporate identity, corporate branding and corporate communication.

Findings

The study argues that the GPO was able to construct an iconic brand in the interwar period (1918-1939) by responding to anxieties in British society generated by social tension and fears of decline. This was facilitated by the establishment of a public relations department, which created “myths” of national identity and imperial unity through telecommunications, and national strength through technology. These myths assuaged social anxieties and enabled the GPO to construct an iconic corporate brand.

Originality/value

This paper provides an important insight into iconic branding. It examines corporate rather than product branding, where research has predominantly focused. It also combines cultural branding theory with historical analysis and provides an adapted approach to Holt’s myth market model (1994, p. 58).

Keywords

Citation

Heller, M. (2016), "“Outposts of Britain” the General Post Office and the birth of a corporate iconic brand, 1930-1939", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50 No. 3/4, pp. 358-376. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-11-2014-0691

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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