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Brands at Work: The Search for Meaning in Mundane Work

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matthew Brannan



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications Ltd., 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Brand scholarship traditionally resides within the marketing literature and focuses on organizations’ external relationships with customers. However, increasing critical attention in organization studies has focused on the brand in order to understand its impact on the internaldynamics of employment relations in contemporary organizations. Drawing on an ethnography of frontline service work in an IT consultancy call centre, we explore the brand as an internal organizational resource sustaining the process of employee meaning-making activities. Documenting the ‘work of the brand’, we outline what the brand offers both employees and employers and, in doing so, we theorize the brand at work as a connecting mechanism between processes of identity formation/re-formation and regulation. While employees are encouraged to internalize particular brand meanings (in this case prestige, success and quality), we found that they often willingly buy into these intended brand meanings as a palliative to ‘cope’ with mundane work. In this way brand meanings are central to producing a self-disciplining form of employee subjectivity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brannan MJ, Parsons E, Priola V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Organization Studies

Year: 2015

Volume: 36

Issue: 1

Pages: 29-53

Print publication date: 01/01/2015

Online publication date: 12/09/2014

Acceptance date: 25/07/2014

Date deposited: 02/10/2019

ISSN (print): 0170-8406

ISSN (electronic): 1741-3044

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0170840614553382


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