Brand Meaning Cocreation: Toward a Conceptualization and Research Implications

Kieran D. Tierney, Ingo Karpen, Kate Westberg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to consolidate and advance the understanding of brand meaning and the evolving process by which it is determined by introducing and explicating the concept of brand meaning cocreation (BMCC).
Design/methodology/approach: In-depth review and integration of literature from branding, cocreation, service systems, and practice theory. To support deep theorizing, the authors also examine the role of institutional logics in the BMCC process in framing interactions and brand meaning outcomes.
Findings: Prior research is limited in that it neither maps the process of cocreation within which meanings emerge nor provides theoretical conceptualizations of brand meaning or the process of BMCC. While the literature acknowledges that brand meaning is influenced by multiple interactions, their nature and how they contribute to BMCC have been overlooked.
Research limitations/implications: This paper reveals a significant gap in knowledge of how brand meaning is cocreated, despite the essential role of brand meaning for firm success and increasing academic interest in the notion of cocreation. Ultimately, this paper builds a conceptual foundation for empirical research in this regard.
Originality/value: This paper proposes that brand meaning is cocreated through the interconnection of different social and service systems, across system levels, time, and geographic space. Marketing theory is advanced by outlining a set of research propositions pertaining to the BMCC process. The authors consider how discrete actor-based brand meanings contribute to an overall brand gestalt and how such a gestalt potentially evolves along a continuum. Additionally, the authors provide a managerially and theoretically relevant research agenda to guide much needed empirical research into BMCC.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Service Theory and Practice
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)911-932
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Branding
  • Brand management
  • Brand meaning
  • Brand meaning cocreation
  • Cocreation

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