Brand strategy and brand evolution: welcome to the world of the meme

Wu, Yufan and Ardley, Barry (2007) Brand strategy and brand evolution: welcome to the world of the meme. The Marketing Review, 7 (3). pp. 301-310. ISSN 1469-347X

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Full text URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/146934707X230112

Abstract

This paper explores the idea of the meme as it relates to branding. In evolutionary theory the meme is the cultural equivalent of the gene. Memes are seen as self replicating entities which jump from human host to human host. In a similar way to the gene in the biological world, there is a complex changing business environment where some memes are successful and others are not. This paper argues that brands are meme like entities, conforming to the dictates of evolutionary theory. An important question is also raised concerning the most appropriate way to research the meme phenomenon. Considerable existing research in branding argues that success results from the increasing complexity of brand management and strategy. The memetic approach provides a different perspective on brand success however. Memetics does not argue for sophistication and complexity as a route to success. Natural selection is based purely on the fitness of the meme. The ability of the latter to survive is depended on its fitness of reproduction in a hostile environment. This theory and its research applicability to branding is explored. Finally, another property of evolution, the concept of mutation, is also briefly examined. It is argued here that brand mutations can have both positive and negative impact on brand building. Consumers, as the hosts of brand memes, could play a vital part in the reproduction process where error copying occurs.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This paper explores the idea of the meme as it relates to branding. In evolutionary theory the meme is the cultural equivalent of the gene. Memes are seen as self replicating entities which jump from human host to human host. In a similar way to the gene in the biological world, there is a complex changing business environment where some memes are successful and others are not. This paper argues that brands are meme like entities, conforming to the dictates of evolutionary theory. An important question is also raised concerning the most appropriate way to research the meme phenomenon. Considerable existing research in branding argues that success results from the increasing complexity of brand management and strategy. The memetic approach provides a different perspective on brand success however. Memetics does not argue for sophistication and complexity as a route to success. Natural selection is based purely on the fitness of the meme. The ability of the latter to survive is depended on its fitness of reproduction in a hostile environment. This theory and its research applicability to branding is explored. Finally, another property of evolution, the concept of mutation, is also briefly examined. It is argued here that brand mutations can have both positive and negative impact on brand building. Consumers, as the hosts of brand memes, could play a vital part in the reproduction process where error copying occurs.
Keywords:Meme, Evolution, Brands, strategy, Mutation, Fitness
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N500 Marketing
N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Business School
ID Code:1450
Deposited By: Jill Partridge
Deposited On:13 Nov 2007
Last Modified:18 Jul 2011 16:19

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