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Corporate rebranding failure and brand meanings in the digital environment

Veronika Tarnovskaya (Lund School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Galina Biedenbach (Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 10 April 2018

Issue publication date: 3 May 2018




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the dynamic process of brand meaning creation by multiple stakeholders during corporate rebranding in the digital environment.


By applying a symbolic interactionist perspective, the case study analyses a failed corporate rebranding of Gap. A variety of narratives by managers, consumers, designers, and marketing professionals were captured by collecting qualitative data on Facebook, Twitter, and professional forums on the internet.


The study demonstrates that the process of brand meaning creation is affected by the complexity of brand meaning negotiation within and between different stakeholder groups. The findings illustrate that the polarisation of brand meanings, in which both antagonistic and supportive forms co-exist, has a determinable impact on the outcome of corporate rebranding.

Research limitations/implications

The study analyses one case of corporate rebranding failure with the focus being on the four key stakeholder groups. Future studies could examine multiple cases of successful and failed corporate rebranding, including a broader variety of internal and external stakeholders.

Practical implications

Marketing managers should engage multiple stakeholders proactively during the process of brand meaning creation. They are encouraged to learn from antagonistic incidents of brand meaning negotiation as well as to utilise opportunities arising during constructive episodes of brand meaning co-creation.


The study contributes to previous research by exploring how the process of brand meaning creation can trigger the collision of brand meanings, which lead to the failure of corporate rebranding.



Tarnovskaya, V. and Biedenbach, G. (2018), "Corporate rebranding failure and brand meanings in the digital environment", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 455-469.



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