Branding in the Political Marketplace: A Case Study of the Norwegian Green Party in the Oslo City Hall Election in 2015

Marius Amundsen Flaget

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of my thesis is to take the theory of the identity approach from the commercial marketplace and apply it in the political marketplace. First, by discussing what happens to the theory in a conceptual way, and secondly, by using the theory as a theoretical framework for an internal and external stakeholder group related to the Green Party in Oslo, Norway. My contribution to the field of branding will be to explore the appropriateness and fit for the identity approach in the political marketplace. Research Questions In this thesis I am interested in looking at how a political party can project a consistent brand identity to its different internal and external stakeholder groups. I will address this in a theoretical way, and then in a practical way, resulting in the following research questions: 1. How does the identity approach translate from the commercial marketplace to the political marketplace on a conceptual level? 2. How is the Green Party able to project a consistent identity between its internal and external stakeholders? 3. How can a political party such as the Green Party use the identity approach to ensure a consistent identity among its stakeholders? Theoretical Framework As a theoretical framework I have chosen to use the identity approach in order to compare how two stakeholder groups, where one is internal and the other is external, view the brand identity of the Green Party. The framework is largely based on the work by Heding, Knutzen & Bjerre (2009) and Hatch and Schultz (1997) and is originally intended for use in the commercial marketplace. Analysis & method I have made a qualitative research design using semi structured interviews to interview one group of employees in the Green Party, and one group of public relations professionals. This gives the analysis one group of internal stakeholders and one group of external stakeholders. In order to structure the analysis I have used the identity approach as framework where I make a comparative analysis to determine if the two groups have similar views on the brand identity of the Green Party or if there are gaps or conflicting views between the two. Results & Conclusion(s) On a conceptual level I found that the application of the identity approach may be applied in the political marketplace. However, there are differences between the commercial marketplace and the political marketplace and political parties should beware of these. For example part of the identity approach that can include a top- down management style that potentially could violate democratic norms. It would also be important to clarify what role the leadership and the ordinary members would play when shaping the behavior, culture or vision of the party. Theoretically, I found that in the political marketplace the identity theory could be applied in two ways: as a strategy for the party to attract more voters by focusing on a coherent message and projecting the party as a corporate party brand with a unified message across all functions. And second, the identity approach can be used as a tool to detect gaps in how the party is perceived among different stakeholder groups. Through the analysis I also found that the Green Party in Oslo does not project a consistent brand identity to it’d different stakeholder groups and several gaps between the internal and external stakeholder groups used in my sample were detected. The Green Party can however, create a consistent brand identity by using the identity approach. The party can also use the approach as a tool to detect gaps between stakeholders.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages101
SupervisorsKarl-Heinz Pogner