Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2014

The Nobel Prize: A 'Heritage-based' Brand-oriented Network

by Mats Urde and Stephen A. Greyser


Purpose — Understanding the Nobel Prize as a 'true' heritage brand in a networked situation and its management challenges, especially regarding identity and reputation.

Methodology — The Nobel Prize serves as an in-depth case study and is analysed within an extended corporate brand identity framework that incorporates reputation.

Findings — The Nobel Prize is a 'true' corporate heritage brand (in this case, organizational brand). It is the 'hub' of a linked network of brands—"a federated republic". The brand core of the Nobel Prize is its set of core values supporting and leading to its promise; "for the benefit of mankind". The core constitutes a hub around which the essential award-granting institutions, as well as the Nobel Foundation and other related entities and stakeholders gravitate. The laureates represent the Nobel Prize track record. The Will of Alfred Nobel, described as "The Nobel Prize federation's constitution" is interpreted by us as indicating a brand-oriented approach within a network of interrelated institutions and organisations.

Research implications — The concept of 'brand-oriented networks' is introduced. An individual organisation's approach to its marketplace, brand-resources and strategy may to varying degrees be brand-oriented. This study suggests that brand-orientation also applies to a network of brands. Separately, the extended version of the "corporate brand identity matrix" provides a corporate brand framework for identity and reputation management, including networked brands.

Practical implications — The new extended framework and the definition of a brand network with a 'hub' provide logic for managing the network. Essential managerial questions on how to leverage brand heritage or not are placed in perspective. Identifying and understanding one's brand heritage and the importance of brand stewardship are reinforced.

Suggestions for further research — The investigation of brand networks (market-oriented and/or brand oriented) and the application of the new "Corporate Brand Identity and Reputation Matrix".

Originality / Value — The first case study of the Nobel Prize from a strategic brand management perspective. The articulation and characterisation of it as a 'brand-oriented network'. The development and application of the new CBIRM.

Keywords: Nobel Prize; heritage brand; brand network; networked brand; brand within a network; brand orientation; brand stewardship; corporate brand identity; reputation; Networks; Organizations; Giving and Philanthropy; Brands and Branding;


Urde, Mats, and Stephen A. Greyser. "The Nobel Prize: A 'Heritage-based' Brand-oriented Network." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-010, August 2014.