Co-creating polyphony or cacophony? A case study of a public organization’s brand co-creation process and the challenge of orchestrating multiple internal voices

Abstract

Recent developments within branding theory suggest a move towards co-created branding. In theory, this approach holds great promise in terms of engaging stakeholders in dynamic processes of creating the corporate brands, but a brand co-creation process also exposes the organization to, for example, loss of control, dilution of identity and potential disharmony between the multiple voices co-creating the brand. Paradoxically, while brand co-creation has received increased theoretical attention, the role of the internal stakeholders (especially the employees) in this process remains vastly uncharted. Therefore, through an empirical case study of the Danish National Gallery, this paper shows how a public organization, which has engaged in brand co-creation, struggles to orchestrate the many internal voices in the co-creational dialogue. The importance of considering internal stakeholders in the co-creation process is illustrated through the discovery of six diverse brand expressions that surface in the so-called touchpoints of co-creation, i.e. the museum’s communication with external stakeholders. Here, different professional groups of employees communicate their version of the brand, leaving the impression of a brand speaking with several, at times clashing, voices.

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Correspondence to Line Schmeltz.

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Schmeltz, L., Kjeldsen, A.K. Co-creating polyphony or cacophony? A case study of a public organization’s brand co-creation process and the challenge of orchestrating multiple internal voices. J Brand Manag 26, 304–316 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41262-018-0124-2

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Keywords

  • Brand co-creation
  • Communication
  • Internal stakeholders
  • Employees
  • Branding in public organizations
  • Corporate branding