Branding in the Culural Economy: Why Branding and Storytelling is paramount in Diffusion of Innovation

Niels Pilgaard Hansen & Peter Kalum Schou

Student thesis: Master thesis


We believe that the best kind of branding tells stories that confirm people’s existing worldviews, their beliefs and understanding of societal position, and show them a path to fulfil their wishes and desires. At this position brands can act as support to the consumer’s identity. At this point brands can diffuse innovation. This is our hypothesis, which we will investigate. First we create a theoretical framework for this assumption. The framework is based on psychoanalysis and cultural theory, Cultural Branding and the Diffusion of Innovation theory. We analyse the term identity and how it is connected to branding from a theoretical standpoint. Furthermore we connect identity to culture. Then we connect innovation and culture. We conclude from a theoretical standpoint that brands as cultural expressions affect identity and that this effect causes people to advocate products that mixes high tech functionality with relevant cultural expressions. Then we show how current brand theory lacks the ability to diffuse innovation and how this caused a great technological innovation to fail, because it lacked a relevant and powerful cultural expression. This is the case of TiVo. Then we show how to create powerful cultural expressions based on myths, which are based on ideology. We use Apple as an example of that used ideology in their branding (“Think Different”) and how they succeeded when that ideology was aligned with the cultural movement. Finally we apply this to a practical case, where we show how this can be used in practice. This is the case of Beoplay. The outcome of our investigation is that brands can provide this support when they express ideology through culturally relevant myths. At this point they can mix cultural relevant expressions with high tech and thus diffuse innovation. To reach this conclusion we combine the psychoanalysis and cultural theory of Jacques Lacan & Slavoj Zizek with the Cultural Branding theory of Douglas Holt and the Diffusion of Innovations theory by Everett Rogers and Geoffrey Moore.

EducationsMSc in Economics and Marketing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages120