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Introduction: Behind the Brand

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 September 2012

Extract

Once described as “neglected,” brands and brand history have benefited from a recent surge of work in business history, economics, and management studies. This research, however, remains relatively tightly focused. Most attention is given to successful, long-lived brands and to the entrepreneurs who developed them. As in the market, so in research, the attraction of successful brands is understandable. Nevertheless, such a focus only reinforces both the well-known tendency to read history through the eyes of the winners and the assumption that losers and also-rans have nothing to tell us. The authors of the articles in this special section share both the wish to look beyond such assumptions and the belief that one way to do so is by complementing the study of brands with the study of trademarks and of the related legal, economic, and business arrangements that stand behind brands and provide context for their development since the nineteenth century.

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Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College 2012

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References

1 For the notion that brands were neglected, see Wilkins, Mira, “The Neglected Intangible Asset: The Influence of the Trade Mark on the Rise of the Modern Corporation,” Business History 34, no. 1 (1992): 6695CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For histories of brands, see for example, Koehn, Nancy F., Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers' Trust from Wedgwood to Dell (Boston, 2001)Google Scholar; Church, Roy and Clark, Christine, “The Origins of Competitive Advantage in the Marketing of Branded Packaged Consumer Goods: Colman's and Reckitt's in Early Victorian Britain,” Journal of Industrial History 3, no. 2 (2000): 98199Google Scholar; Jones, Geoffrey, Renewing Unilever: Transformation and Tradition (Oxford, 2005)Google Scholar; da Silva Lopes, Teresa, Global Brands: The Evolution of Multinationals in Alcoholic Beverages (New York, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; da Silva Lopes, Teresa and Casson, Mark, “Entrepreneurship and the Development of Global Brands,” Business History Review 81, no. 4 (2007): 651–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jones, Geoffrey, Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry (New York, 2010)Google Scholar.

2 Any such accounting should also include the range of competitors in 1887, when Pemberton registered a “label” rather than a trademark, something most histories of the firm and mark overlook.

3 On trademarks and countries' competitiveness, see da Silva Lopes, Teresa and Duguid, Paul, eds., Trademarks, Brands and Competitiveness (London, 2010)Google Scholar. In this edited volume, see in particular the chapter on trademarks and innovation by Christian Helmers and Mark Rogers, “Trademarks and Performance in U.K. Firms”; and on competition within value chains, see Paul Duguid, “Brands in Chains.” On innovation and trademarks, see also Mendonça, Sandro, Pereira, Tiago S., and Godinho, Manuel M., “Trademarks as an Indicator of Innovation and Industrial Change,” Research Policy 33, no. 9 (2004): 1385–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On the development of export markets, see Higgins, David M. and Tweedale, Geoffrey, “The Trade Marks Question and the Lancashire Cotton Textile Industry, 1870–1914,” Textile History 27, no. 2 (1996): 207–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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