Brand Leaders: Driving Market Orientation | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Brand Leaders: Driving Market Orientation

Brand Leaders: Driving Market Orientation


  • Roy Gifford
  • Casey Newmeyer


Brands fail (e.g., Oldsmobile, Trans World Airlines, Plymouth, and Woolworth Stores). Yet, some brands 60 years and older (e.g., John Deere) have remained relevant across generations of consumers. We call these heritage brands. We define a heritage brand as a brand that (1) is at least 60 years old, (2) is authentic, (3) is trusted, (4) has strong brand recognition, and (5) has the ability to generate brand stories. To date, no literature addresses the behaviors of leaders who influence the emotional connections between brands and consumers. To address this phenomenological gap, we conducted a qualitative inquiry involving semi-structured interviews with 34 executives who are leading or who have led heritage brands from the consumer goods and consumer packaged-goods industries. We find that leaders who exhibit the behaviors of emotional intelligence, hope, and social identity build stronger emotional connections between their brands and consumers, which lead to sustainable brand growth. These are important findings for researchers and practitioners who seek to understand this phenomenon and position their brands for long-term sustainable growth.