The ideal aesthetics: Transmedia storytelling in contemporary brand communication

Per Holsteen Larsen & Tobias Maria Høgsberg

Student thesis: Master thesis


In recent years we have witnessed an explosion in the amount of branded communication and advertising the average consumer is exposed to. This has contributed considerably to changes in the way we as consumers use and draw on brands, and consequently transformed a brand’s ability to reach the consumer. Contemporary consumer culture is characterized by an increasing anti-brand sentiment spawned by a new sense of empowerment among consumer, expansionary individualism and an increased concentration on personal identity projects. Consumers are no longer content with being left passive in the consumption of information and entertainment – They want to be actively included and feel engaged. The dialectic relationship that exists between consumer culture and brands is heavily shaped by these changes in consumer culture. As a result, the role of the brand is shifting to an increased focus on its ability to contribute to the consumers’ personal identity projects as a cultural resource. Consumers will assess and evaluate a brand based on its capability to deliver expressive cultural material, which strikes their imagination and helps them interpret the world in which they exist. The concept of transmedia storytelling presents a new method of brand communication which caters to these changes in consumer culture. It is characterized by its rare ability to disperse information on multiple media platforms, create performative roles which activate the consumer, and present multifaceted communication with the necessary profundity needed in order to capture the attention of a spoiled audience. Through its unique ability to create complex and open fictional worlds, often with a vast amount of characters and sub-stories it leads the audience towards searching for further information on this world and its inhabitants. The involving and engaging nature of this way of communicating creates a situation where consumers become involved with the communication, sometimes as cocreators or co-authors, i.e. the former one-way-communication transforms into a collaboration or dialogue between corporation and consumer. Exploiting this type of communicative tool and its entailed ability to build complex worlds can be a successful way of communicating your brand or product to contemporary consumers. However, a relevant and credible inclusion or use of the brand is absolute key if the combination between entertainment and brand is to flourish and reach new heights. If successfully implemented, this type of communication can be highly effective in reaching the contemporary consumer and in winning the trust of this media-savvy audience, typified by its suspicion towards branded communication. The involvement can forge a strong relationship and connection between brand and consumer which should lead to loyalty and the willingness to share positive experiences and connotations.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages125