Brand Identity in The Sharing Economy: An Exploration of how Stakeholder Identity and Brand Identity is Reciprocally Co-Created in the Sharing Economy

Viktoria Hansson & Maria Karlsson

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis provides an exploratory investigation into how stakeholder identity and brand identity is reciprocally co-created in a sharing economy context. The Airbnb brand was applied as a case brand. Further, the sharing economy context studied in this thesis focuses on a context where the access-facilitating brand does not provide the accessed object, but solely facilitate the connections between the consumers and the producers. What makes this an interesting research area is the assumption that the sharing economy, as a phenomenon, works according to similar driving forces as in a process-based view of brand identity, which is argued to be theoretically rooted in sociology, and particularly intersubjective social constructionism. Based on a review of current research on brand identity, a careful examination of identity theory, as well as a review on performative approaches to branding and the concept of the sharing economy, this master thesis applies a performativity theory perspective. The result is based on eight in-depth interviews with Airbnb hosts, as well as corresponding netnography in the form of reviews left by guests on the Airbnb public online platform. Derived from the findings, ten Airbnb-specific brand performances exemplifying how stakeholder identity and brand identity are reciprocally co-created were identified. From these ten Airbnbspecific performances, the authors conclude that stakeholder identity and brand identity is reciprocally co-created in the sharing economy through processes of various stakeholder performances, namely through four generic performances. The performances are: (1) Expanding one’s horizon; (2) Preparing the accessed object; (3) Giving feedback; and (4) Entrepreneuring. Further implications of how stakeholder identity and brand identity are co-created were identified; (1) social interactions between the consumers and producers play a crucial role in the identity cocreation process; (2) the most prevailing role of the brand is to facilitate the performances; (3) stakeholders, particularly producer, may be seen as manifestations of the brand; (4) brand identity is performed both online and offline, as well as pre, during and after the consumption experience; and (5) many different versions of the brand identity is performed.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages165
SupervisorsSylvia von Wallpach