The pirate and the navy: Challenger brands and their utilization of counter-hegemonic ideology in identity communication

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Challenger branding is a phenomenon that is gaining significant exposure in academia. However, most research on this branding approach relates to a practical or technical knowledge interest, ignoring the counter-hegemonic critique that exemplifies challenger branding. The critique that these brands base their identity on often shifts after they have been acquired into a hegemonic context, by joining a large corporation or becoming hegemonic brands themselves. This thesis aims to extend critical knowledge by connecting theories of ideology, hegemony, and brand communication to the identity construction of two challenger brands, The Body Shop and Innocent Drinks, and further explores the identity shift of the brands after their acquisition by L’Oréal and Coca-Cola. Counter-hegemony was found to be a pervasive tool activated through a number of signs for challenger identity construction. Further, challenger brand identity differed substantially before and after the challenger brands joined L’Oréal and Coca-Cola.

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