Abstract: For who can bear to feel himself forgotten? The General Post Office and the Birth of a British Brand Icon, 1930-1939

Michael Heller


This paper examines the development of an iconic corporate brand by the General Post Office (GPO) in Britain in the 1930s. It does this by adapting the work of Douglas Holt (2004) who has developed much of the work on iconic branding. It argues that the GPO was able to construct an iconic brand by responding to anxieties in British society generated by social tension and global and imperial decline. It did this by the establishment of a public relations department, which created and broadcasted stories or 'myths' of national identity and imperial unity through communication and of national strength through technology. These myths assuaged social anxieties and enabled the GPO to construct an iconic corporate brand, which reinforced the organization by improving its organizational image, strengthening its relationship with stakeholders, and improving its position in the marketplace. Furthermore, the paper argues that these myths were created not by advertising, but by an original and pioneering use of public relations. It provides an important insight into iconic branding, which examines corporate branding rather than product branding, where research has predominantly focused.