Theorising brand aura

Alexander, Nicholas and Doherty, Anne Marie (2023) Theorising brand aura. Journal of Service Management, 34 (1). pp. 126-146. ISSN 1757-5818 (

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Purpose: Building on Walter Benjamin's philosophical reflections on aura and authenticity, this article aims to conceptualise and theorise brand aura. Design/methodology/approach: This article extends understanding of brand aura within the management, marketing and tourism literature with reference to Benjamin's framing of aura and authenticity in time and space. Findings: Within a Benjaminian framework this article theorises brand aura and offers a conceptualisation of the antecedents of brand aura. It explores the duality of what is termed here as artefactual authenticity and existential authenticity. It illustrates the central role of consumers' mémoire involontaire in the realisation of brand aura. Within this Benjaminian framework, the article explores how artefactual authenticity is preceded by brand essence, while existential authenticity precedes brand essence. Implications for the management of the service encounter are discussed with reference to territorial legitimacy and historical testimony in the context of the firm's role in supporting consumer experiential engagement. Originality/value: This article advances theoretical understanding of how consumers engage experientially with brand aura and how firms curate brand aura.