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 8: The Brand I Call Home? Employee–Brand Appropriation at IKEA

Veronika V. Tarnovskaya

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


129 mobilize these meanings in their identity work. I argue that brand meanings are not only imposed on employees by managers in order to achieve marketing goals, but also re-appropriated by them in order to frame their own goals. Thus, employees are viewed as active constructors of brand meaning who appropriate the brand through their specific experiences of the organization. The study seeks to develop a more comprehensive view of employee branding as appropriation work by active employees, sometimes in sync with the managerial intentions, sometimes totally out of sync. It also contributes to the integration of ideas surrounding employee and employer branding, which are still seen in the literature as two separate processes. Theories of employee and employer branding The concept of employee branding combines the traditional view of branding with the internal marketing concept (Miles and Mangold, 2004, 2005, 2007; Mitchell, 2000; Gronroos, 1981). It is defined as ‘the process by which employees internalize the desired brand image and are motivated to project the image to customers and other organisational constituents’ (Miles and Mangold, 2004: 68). These authors speak of employee branding as a strong positioning tool towards customers and other stakeholders. Miles and Mangold (2005) identified that the critical elements of the employee branding process include: the organization’s mission and values, desired brand image, the variety of communication modes, employee’s psyche (knowledge of brand image and psychological contract), employee brand image and consequences for customers and employees. Drawing on evidence from other literature (e.g. Mitchell, 2002), they...

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