• Camilla Ratzke Nielsen
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis seeks to understand the new phenomenon purpose branding from a theoretical perspective. Despite the growing interest and adoption of this branding approach within business, the phenomenon has not yet established itself within the academic literature. The existing literature on this subject is largely empirical in nature and primarily written by practitioners in an “how-to” manner. The few evidence-based sources that considers the phenomenon is mainly focusing on its effectiveness and not its theoretical meaning. That is why this thesis aim to answer how purpose branding can be characterized as a theoretical phenomenon and to what extent it can be said to provide a new perspective on brand management.
The thesis does so by conducting a literature review on the existing definitions and characteristics of purpose branding. The review deduced 9 characteristics, divided into three groups which were said to constitute the three main components of purpose branding. These form the basis of the theoretical analysis where three related theoretical perspectives are analyzed in relation to the three components, in order to understand the phenomenon in a theoretical context. The three related theoretical perspectives are cultural branding, corporate branding and CSR 2.0.

The cultural branding theory is comparable with the purpose branding in several key areas. Both approaches share the same understanding that brands must be viewed from a perspective that goes beyond the interaction and transaction with customers and stakeholders. Both approaches also recognize that brands play a large role in culture and society and that this role can contribute positively to consumer identity construction as well as the brand's competitive position.

Corporate branding and purpose branding share the same understanding, that precious value can be derived from the brand heritage and used as a differential asset in the corporate brand identity or purpose construction. Both approaches also agree upon the need to maintain a consistent and constant identity and/or purpose to ensure recognition, credibility and authenticity, leaving only strategy to adapt as the world changes.

The theory of CSR 2.0 believes that the purpose of business is to serve the community by offering sustainable products and services that contribute to human betterment - without damaging the eco-system in the process. This approach is consistent with the believe of purpose branding that the business itself should be about contributing to a better world and human welfare.

Purpose branding can only be said to contribute with a new perspective in one out of the nine characteristics, in regard to the fact, that “a purpose creates a sense of obligation and direction among employees and stakeholders making codes of approved behavior redundant”. None of the three related perspectives acknowledges a business procedure without any supervision of corporate behavior.

However, it can be argued that purpose branding brings a new perspective on brand management to the table in relation to the combination and interplay between each of the three main components, drawing on either cultural branding, corporate branding or CSR 2.0.
Publication date1 Feb 2017
Number of pages122
ID: 250516703