Co-creating in Non-profit Brand Communities: A Qualitative Study of Danish Cancer Society Stakeholders

Sarah Emilie Gandil & Rikke Birkenfeldt Petersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The present study taps into the complexity of today’s branding paradigm centered on the dynamic stakeholder-focused brand era. Literature from this new paradigm argues that brand value and meaning is dynamically co-created with the brand, and views all stakeholders as partners in the branding process. While the dynamic co-creation tendency has proven a successful branding strategy for creating value for large commercial brands, such as LEGO and Nike, this study takes its offset in a curiosity about why stakeholders of nonprofit organizations are willing to participate in co-creation processes without gaining monetary or materialistic rewards. Guided by the inductive research method, this provides the research question of the thesis. Using the case study method the study explores one of Denmark’s largest NPOs, The Danish Cancer Society and its stakeholder co-creation. The Danish Cancer Society brand has high levels of support and engagement from the Danish population seen through e.g. number of volunteers, donations, and a good reputation amongst the population. Perhaps this is the result of the brand having embraced the new trend of brand co-creation, moving away from one-way communication, towards involvement of their stakeholders in their branding and communication, as e.g. seen on Facebook. While it is evident that value is being co-created with the Danish Cancer Society’s stakeholders, the study seeks to understand the nature and motivations for co-creating from the stakeholders’ point of view. Thus, through the qualitative method of in-depth interviews, the study explores the nature of co-creation of six different Danish Cancer Society stakeholders. The analysis provides a deeper understanding of the meaning that brand co-creation provides to the Danish Cancer Society’s stakeholders. The study reveals some interesting patterns, which are discussed in relation to theory, and finally provides some implications for NPOs to use in their branding strategies. The study shows that co-creating with the Danish Cancer Society provides very different meaning and value to peoples’ lives depending on their life circumstances, life cycle stages, and level of engagement in the brand community. Thus, motivating stakeholders to become involved in co-creation processes and retaining them as such is a complex task, considering the size and complexity of the Danish Cancer Society’s target group. Despite the complexity, it is clear that the meaning it provides each stakeholder to be involved with the brand reflects back into the brand and creates value due to a personal interest in the brand. Therefore it is suggested that nonprofit brands should continue to build and engage with their stakeholders in a dynamically stable manner in order to stimulate a positive brand discourse between its members. In conclusion, it is argued that if NPOs provide the platforms and tailored stimuli for positive brand discourse and co-creation activities, it will create more meaningful brand experiences, resulting in more value for stakeholders as well as the brand

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages164