Managing the Changes in Corporate Branding and Communication: Closing and Re-opening the Corporate Umbrella

Don E. Schultz, Philip J. Kitchen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


While the controversy continues over whether an organization should focus on corporate or product branding, this paper explains why corporate branding is the most likely scenario for most multi-national organizations in the 21st century. It is argued here that a strong, consistent and cohesive corporate brand and communication program is needed to maintain and increase cash flows and increase shareholder value. Further, it is explained why this approach is not only relevant, but is likely to be mandatory in the emerging networked and interactive marketplace. The authors use a new physical metaphor, the ‘corporate umbrella’, to explain and illustrate how corporate branding and communication programs are relevant and appropriate for all organizations. First, the umbrella concept is described. Then, the paper illustrates why many traditional corporate umbrella communication approaches and activities have been worn and torn by the winds of environmental change, thus making them irrelevant and useless. This is followed by a description and discussion of the new type of corporate umbrella that must be developed for firms to successfully compete in the 21st century marketplace. The paper is based on concepts developed and presented in a book published by Palgrave-Macmillan, Basingstoke, England in August 2001: ‘Raising the Corporate Umbrella’ and used here, with permission. The major contribution of the paper is the ‘umbrella’ concept. Undoubtedly, changes in the business and general social environment necessitate integration at both marketing and corporate communication levels. The umbrella metaphor is useful in conceptualizing the foundation and integration of corporate communication. Before the conclusion of the paper, the authors offer their recommendations on how managers, consultants and academics could use the metaphor to clarify the role of corporate communication within an organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-366
Number of pages20
JournalCorporate Reputation Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • advertising
  • brand
  • communications
  • corporate branding
  • e-communication
  • identity
  • image
  • intangibles
  • philanthropy
  • positioning
  • reputation
  • stakeholder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management

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