The Stakeholder Approach: A New Threoretical to Brand Management

Alexandra Kristjánsdottir & Tine Røder Riis

Student thesis: Master thesis


Brands are increasingly being recognized as key organizational assets that serve as a source of long term competitive advantage. This emphasizes the importance of brand management, but the field is complex and new theoretical frameworks, concepts and ideas are constantly being developed. However, the most recent branding approaches defined by brand scholars are over a decade old and do not reflect the most recent trends in branding research. The increased focus on stakeholder involvement in brand co-creation is for instance not represented in the previously defined branding approaches, indicating a gap in the literature. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to close this gap and conceptualize a new approach to brand management by conducting an analysis of the most recent branding literature. In addition to that, the purpose is also to identify implications of the newly defined approach for Novo Nordisk. The thesis is theoretical and solely based on recent literature related to the topic of stakeholder involvement in brand co-creation. After gathering and reading the literature, the theoretical analysis was categorized into five sections. These sections were based on who participates in brand co-creation, how brand co-creation happens, what is being co-created, where the brand cocreation takes place, and finally why people participate in brand co-creation. In order to facilitate further understanding of each element of the approach, the five sections include a small case and a managerial discussion, along with a visual illustration of the main findings. The five sections were then discussed in relation to each other and based on the analysis of relevant literature a new theoretical branding approach was defined, termed the stakeholder approach to branding. The main characteristics of this new approach are that the brand is now regarded as being cocreated through social discourse, within a complex and dynamic network of stakeholders. The brand is viewed as a temporary social construction that is constantly changing and many different constructions of the brand can co-exist simultaneously. The value no longer lies in the brand but in the knowledge and wisdom that is co-created in the process. With the purpose of identifying the potential of the newly defined approach, the stakeholder approach was applied to the Novo Nordisk brand. The same five sections as identified in the literature analysis were discussed, but now in the context of Novo Nordisk’s specific situation. To gain some insights into Novo Nordisk’s current situation, a situational analysis was conducted before the stakeholder approach was applied, where the company, its consumers, the context, the competition and the collaborations of Novo Nordisk were discussed. The main implication for Novo Nordisk’s brand management, was that based on the analysis of the case, it is not a realistic possibility to fully implement the stakeholder approach to the Novo Nordisk corporate brand. However, if the company wants to increase brand co-creation, the company’s brand management can still adapt some elements of the stakeholder approach to Novo Nordisk. Finally, some more general managerial implications for applying the stakeholder approach were discussed, along with suggestions for further research.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages113