Branded Lives

Branded Lives

The Production and Consumption of Meaning at Work

Edited by Matthew J. Brannan, Elizabeth Parsons and Vincenza Priola

Branded Lives explores the increasingly popular concept of employee branding as a new form of employment relationship based on brand representation. In doing so it examines the ways in which the production and consumption of meaning at work are increasingly mediated by the brand. This insightful collection draws on qualitative empirical studies in a range of contexts to include services, retail and manufacturing organizations. The contributors explore the nuances of employee branding from various disciplinary standpoints such as: organization studies, marketing, human resource management and industrial relations. They take a critical perspective on work and organizations and document the lived experience of work and employment under branded conditions. In investigating the extent to which a variety of organizational strategies seek to mould workplace meanings and practices to further build and sustain brand value and the effectiveness of these in terms of employee responses, the authors question whether the attempt to ‘brand’ workers’ lives actually enhances or diminishes the meaning and experience of work.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Matthew J. Brannan, Elizabeth Parsons and Vincenza Priola

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, marketing, organisation studies, research methods in business and management, research methods, research methods in business and management


Matthew J. Brannan, Elizabeth Parsons and Vincenza Priola The growth of emotional, aesthetic and identity work within organizational contexts has led to epochal changes in the way that people are managed at work and, as a consequence, the way that work is experienced by employees. This volume explores the experience of employee branding, a very concrete and specific employment practice, that has become increasingly popular in recent times. This focused approach provides an aperture through which we can gain insight and provide analysis into a much wider and more complex picture of dynamic social relations mediated through the changing contours of the employment relationship. With, for example, many employees being increasingly encouraged to bring ‘more of themselves’ into the workplace (Fleming, 2009), the question of what constitutes appropriate selves, and how this is formulated, remains open to question and a vital topic for critical debate and engagement. Working in the tradition of industrial sociology, this volume presents a range of theoretically informed empirical accounts that document the pleasures and pains of living the brand as a mode of both production and being in the world. The chapters also chart the ways in which employees may potentially become constituted as ‘portraits’ of organizational brands, and the prospects for securing competitive advantage that this may confer on organizations goes some way to explain the extraordinary lengths that some have gone to in order to embed these processes within institutional architectures. As the following quote proselytizes: If genuine commitment is to be achieved...