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When innovation met renovation: back to the future of branding

Stephen Brown (University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Northern Ireland)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 3 August 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

Retro-marketing is rampant. Throwback branding is burgeoning. Newstalgia is the next big thing. Yet marketing thinking is dominated by the forward-facing discourse of innovation. The purpose of this paper is to challenge innovation’s rhetorical hegemony by making an exemplar-based case for renovation.

Design/methodology/approach

If hindsight is the new foresight, then historical analyses can help us peer through a glass darkly into the future. This paper turns back time to the RMS Titanic, once regarded as the epitome of innovation, and offers a qualitative, narratological, culturally informed reading of a much-renovated brand.

Findings

In narrative terms, Titanic is a house of many mansions. Cultural research reveals that renovation and innovation, far from being antithetical, are bound together in a deathless embrace, like steamship and iceberg. It shows that, although the luxury liner sank more than a century ago, Titanic is a billion-dollar brand and a testament to renovation’s place in marketing’s pantheon. It contends that the unfathomable mysteries of the Titanic provide an apt metaphor for back-to-the-future brand management. It is a ship-shape simile heading straight for the iceberg called innovation. Survival is unlikely but the collision is striking.

Originality/value

This paper makes no claims to originality. On the contrary, it argues that originality is overrated. Renovation, rather, rules the waves. It is a time to renovate our thinking about innovation. The value of this paper inheres in that observation.

Keywords

Citation

Brown, S. (2015), "When innovation met renovation: back to the future of branding", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 634-655. https://doi.org/10.1108/MIP-09-2014-0166

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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