Emotional branding and the strategic value of the doppelgänger brand image

Craig J. Thompson, Aric Rindfleisch, Zeynep Arsel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Emotional branding is widely heralded as a key to marketing success. However, little attention has been given to the risks posed by this strategy. This article argues that emotional-branding strategies are conducive to the emergence of a doppelgänger brand image, which is defined as a family of disparaging images and meanings about a brand that circulate throughout popular culture. This article's thesis is that a doppelgänger brand image can under-mine the perceived authenticity of an emotional-branding story and, thus, the identity value that the brand provides to consumers. The authors discuss how the tenets of emotional branding paradoxically encourage the formation and propagation of doppelgänger brand imagery. This article develops the counterintuitive proposition that rather than merely being a threat to be managed, a doppelgänger brand image can actually benefit a brand by providing early warning signs that an emotional-branding story is beginning to lose its cultural resonance. This article demonstrates these ideas through an analysis of the doppelgänger brand image that is beginning to haunt a paragon of emotional branding - Starbucks. The authors conclude with a discussion of how marketing managers can proactively use the insights gained by analyzing a doppelgänger brand image.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-64
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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