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Beyond ‘form versus content’: Simmelian theory as a framework for adaptive brand strategy

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At the heart of branding is a paradox: the need to provide constancy and change at the same time. Constancy is required if the brand is to build awareness and credibility. Change is required if the brand is to remain relevant in an ever-evolving marketplace. In modern society the paradox is even more daunting, as constancy runs the risk of seeming inherently inauthentic. This leaves brands with two contradictory demands: (1) be the same and different virtually at once, (2) be instantly recognisable yet avoid formula. Though these demands may seem impossible to meet, some brands manage to navigate them. How? Using the classical sociological theory of Georg Simmel, this paper analyses this deep paradox in conceptual terms, and offers five tactics for managing it.‘Rigor, as they say, is next to mortis.’—Tim Ambler, Senior Fellow, London Business School, in ‘Marketing and the Bottom Line’ (Prentice-Hall, 2000)Journal of Brand Management (2002) 10, 9–18; doi:10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540098
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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