On the Trans-Siberian with Sylvester Stallone: National Identity and Brand Identity in Post-socialist Russia

Graham Roberts


In our short paper we look at how certain brands in post-socialist Russia appeal to consumers’ patriotism in order to build brand identity. In order to ensure thematic coherence, we restrict our discussion to the alcohol sector. In the first part, we analyse the packaging of certain vodka and brandy brands. Our focus then shifts to beer and specifically the Facebook page of AB-InBev’s ‘Siberian Crown’ brand (entitled ‘The Map of Russian Pride’). Our paper is conceptual, and we use a visual studies methodology following Schroeder (2002) and Manning (2010). As we demonstrate, a number of brands in today’s Russia generate certain types of myths, both about Russia and Russianness and – by extension – about themselves as brands. They do so by recreating the past, or rather, by carefully selecting from that past those elements which contribute to the grand narrative that is both the brand, and the nation. Our paper’s contributions lie in a number of areas. First of all, it adds to the literature on social media networks, and especially to discussions of the role those networks play in branding. Second, it explores the relationship between building brand legitimacy and (re)constructing national identity. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it extends the pioneering work on ‘iconic’ branding by Holt (2006) into a non-Western context. Given our findings, more work clearly needs to be done on the difference that social networks make to brands, on the role they play both in legitimizing the brand and in promoting myths of national identity – not just in Russia but in a wide variety of markets.


packaging, social media, branding, nostalgia, Russia, alcohol.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2014.3.069


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