Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2008 (Revised June 2008)

Kenny Kahn at Muzak (A)

by Linda A. Hill and Emily Stecker


Founded in 1934, Muzak pioneered the industry of background music. Equipped with propriety technology and a vast music library, over the ensuing decades the Muzak franchise organization expanded geographically. Despite a history of innovation, by the late 1990s Muzak had anemic financials and low employee morale. When new CEO Bill Boyd took the helm in 1997, he assembled a new management team. The new VP of Marketing, Kenny Kahn, worked with design firm Pentagram to re-brand the company, not just for customers but to spark organizational change. But because Muzak was a franchise organization, Kahn had to convince independent affiliates to pay for what turned out to be an extensive re-branding. This case can be used to teach how branding can be used as a tool for spearheading culture change—not to exercise influence without authority—and how businesspeople can effectively work with a design firm.

Keywords: Change Management; Design; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Brands and Branding; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Culture; Franchise Ownership; Music Industry;


Hill, Linda A., and Emily Stecker. "Kenny Kahn at Muzak (A)." Harvard Business School Case 408-057, May 2008. (Revised June 2008.)