In this article, the purpose is to develop a consumer-focused understanding of authenticity within corporate heritage research. Our research question is as follows: “What makes a corporate heritage brand authentic for consumers?” We employ Peirce’s semiotic concepts of icon, index and symbol to analyse consumers’ perceptions of the Finnish corporate heritage brand Fazer, founded in 1891. Our study shows that childhood memories, consumer experiences and expectations as well as shared social conventions make the corporate heritage brand authentic for consumers. Thus, our research empirically advances the understanding of authenticity as socially constructed. Importantly, our study highlights the temporal dimension of this construction and advances the current knowledge on corporate heritage brands by showing that uniqueness, credibility and consistency over time are key dimensions of corporate heritage brand authenticity assessments. This understanding is fundamental for corporate heritage management practice, especially for developing the strategic positioning of corporate heritage brands in the markets by harnessing the assessments of authenticity.
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