Kulturel branding: En analyse af Douglas B. Holts model for kulturel branding

Jeppe C. S. Mynster

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis examines the ’Cultural Brandingmodel’ proposed by Douglas B. Holt as a strategic model for handling the branding activities in companies where the primary source of value is communication, which he labels iconic and identity brands. The model is presented in the book “How brands become icons” (2004). The research question for the thesis is: “What challenges and opportunities are there for companies in applying the cultural branding model proposed by Holt in ‘How brands become icons’ (2004)?” The thesis is placed within a constructionist ontology and epistemology, and a philosophical hermeneutic methodology has been chosen in order to conduct the research. Mere specifically, the research will take the form of a discourse analysis with emphasis on micro-discursive understanding of the term which leads to an examination of the model for branding and its theoretical background as an element of a grander attempt to reshape our assumptions in concern to branding. The theory and model proposed by Holt (2004) is based on a constructionist foundation which has proven to one of its major forces as well as an Achilles heel. This means that the theory has become quite intangible although Holt has tried to condemn reality by creating various models to extract for example identity value which is a construct based on the brand’s contribution to the consumer’s self-expression. This puts a lot of responsibility on the practicians of cultural branding model but there will, in my opinion, but a lot gain if the model could be merged with a more positivistic model of value determination which could make the theory more applicable in companies where accountability often rules. The theory also highlights identity struggles as one foundation of branding. I find is quite interesting in these times of social media, where online who we are online, can be seen as a personal narrative that does not seem to reflect an actual self but a projected version of who we are – or more likely, who we want to seem to be. Still, the increased focus on identity in general pose a major opportunity and practical model of how to deliver identity value to consumers could be tempting to many companies of areas concerned with identity matters. Furthermore, the theory emphasizes communication as – in some cases- more important than products which to some extent makes sense, but on the basis of Holts theory and model it is hard to separate which is which. Or put in another way, it can seem hard to estimate how much value is generated by communication and how much stems from product features. The thesis goes on to argue that the cultural branding model proposed by Holt can be of great value to companies although it will be hard for it to be a one-and-only strategy. It has many shortcomings, which probably comes from the very narrow focus of the discursive study performed.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages71