Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 91–111 | Cite as

New-school brand creation and creativity – Lessons from Hip Hop and the global branded generation

  • Jonathan A J Wilson
Original Article


Although academic marketing literature exists on the value of hip hop as a marketing tool, there appears to be less on hip hop's philosophical roots and why it proves to be so effective. This study attempts to fill this gap, investigating the apparent natural synergy with brand theory – in that they are both able to captivate and engage consumer-centric sub-cultural groups. Findings indicate that brands and hip hop weave themselves into the fabrics of society – creating social capital and providing a way for individuals to connect with the world. Through metaphor, slang, symbolism and sampling, they recycle and preserve aspects of culture; but in doing so, they also innovate. Two critical success factors in both appear to be the ratification of authenticity and an encouragement towards shared ownership. However in contrast, hip hop places precedence on overt and clear signalling of competitive intent. The methodology used is an Expert Delphi study – which also draws from a review of song lyrics, participant observation studies and in-depth interviews. This provides a basis for inductive reasoning and syllogisms. The aim is twofold: to present a new hip hop-inspired model for brand creation; and second to offer an innovative approach to in-depth qualitative studies, using ‘Word Cloud’ software.


hip hop brand creation brand culture creativity brand management brand communities 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Greenwich, Maritime Campus, Old Royal Naval CollegeLondonUK

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