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Emigration and imperial business: the New Zealand Company brand 1839-1841

Patricia Ann Thomas (College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 16 May 2016




This paper aims to offer an example of a comprehensive mid-nineteenth century branding strategy in practice.


The paper follows a historical research methodology using archival resources and secondary sources within a conceptual framework of present-day branding theory (Bastos and Levy) and communication theory (Perloff). It interrogates visual and material data to construct a production-led examination of the development of a company brand.


The examination of the material suggests, first, that the company developed a sophisticated, multi-dimensional, multi-functional and materially coherent branding system. Second, it demonstrates that such a system represents an early example of a strategic practice that many scholars have considered to have arisen only in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. Third, it provides evidence that the origin, if not always the implementation, of the strategy lay with one man, Edward Gibbon Wakefield.


This paper is novel in its use of visual and material culture artifacts to demonstrate the intentions of those who produced them. It also offers an example of practice in an area that is often only explored in theory. It will be of interest to cultural, marketing, visual and material culture historians.



Thomas, P.A. (2016), "Emigration and imperial business: the New Zealand Company brand 1839-1841", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 284-307.



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