Towards true authentic corporate brands: an existential view

Nils Grimm*, Jörg Henseler, Benjamin Österle, Christoph Moss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


This conceptual paper contemplates on conscientious corporate brands (CCB) from a perspective of existential authenticity. In a world fraught with moral complexities, the authors raise the question, if a corporate brand that acts against prevailing morality does no longer have a conscience? Or if there are different kinds of conscience?

Drawing on Kohlberg’s model of moral decision making, the authors propose a model of moral maturity for CCB. The model distinguishes six distinct stages: self-interest, reciprocity and reputation, stakeholder consideration, compliance and responsibility, ethical principles, and moral leadership. The authors argue that perspective, contextuality, and self-narration matter, and thus, they introduce an existentialist informed view on CCB. A CCB, therefore, is one that acknowledges the quest for authenticity as its major – becoming – purpose.

The proposed model highlights the need for CCB to position themselves to the good, derived not from external standards but through self-disclosure. The article suggests that a CCB, akin to Schrödinger's cat, may be perceived conscientious and not conscientious until observed from a particular perspective, emphasizing the concept of potentiality. A CCB is one that acknowledges its brand narrative as a moral compass, disciplining the brand in its moral decision making.

The study contends that CCB's moral maturity is a matter of perspective, offering a nuanced view on the interplay of ethics, narrativity, and authenticity in corporate branding. Communicating a CCB may be concerned with inciting stakeholders with an authentic vision of its conscientious self. The authors encourage brand managers to approach authenticity as a performative construct.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Brand Conference 2024, Edinburgh, UK
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 2024
Event17th Global Brand Conference 2024 - Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Apr 202424 Apr 2024


Conference17th Global Brand Conference 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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