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The ultimate heritage brand: the British monarchy


Professor John Balmer of Brunel University London says that corporate heritage institutions give a sense of identity to future generations of the general public.

Balmer uses the terms “corporate heritage identity” and “corporate marketing” to describe organisations that have corporate identity traits that customers and stakeholders value, and that continue to define an organisation.

Where history concerns itself primarily with the past alone, corporate heritage concerns itself with the present and the future as well. Prominent examples of this in the UK include the British Monarchy, London Taxis and Harris Tweed.

Balmer investigated the monarchies in Britain and Sweden as a case study on key components of heritage brands. He argues that heritage marketing has become a core competency of many brands, capable of creating positive public perception.

Balmer found that trust, affinity and authenticity maintain corporate heritage.

Trust concerns the level of confidence shared between the brand and the public.

Affinity relates to being aware of the public’s concerns.

Authenticity is about the importance of the corporate identity’s traits, and that they endure.

Balmer’s work has led to a new conceptual model within the field of marketing. Many royal households have approached him for comment on heritage branding. The Japanese and Spanish medias have done the same.

This work enables long-standing brands to become more effective, and to grow and develop during times of change. Academics and organisations have a new way of conceptualising organisations with an established history, in order to increase consumer loyalty and satisfaction.

In 2011, Balmer established the international corporate heritage symposium, a forum where scholars can share their findings on corporate heritage.

The symposium has gone from strength to strength: the 2012 symposium was held at Brunel University London. In 2013, it was held in Sweden and in Finland in 2014.

This is just one stream of research on marketing and branding from the MCBM (Marketing and Corporate Brand Management Research Group).