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Brand meaning cocreation: toward a conceptualization and research implications

Kieran D. Tierney (RMIT Asia Graduate Centre, RMIT University, Hanoi, Vietnam)
Ingo O. Karpen (Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Kate Westberg (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 14 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to consolidate and advance the understanding of brand meaning and the evolving process by which it is determined by introducing and explicating the concept of brand meaning cocreation (BMCC).


In-depth review and integration of literature from branding, cocreation, service systems, and practice theory. To support deep theorizing, the authors also examine the role of institutional logics in the BMCC process in framing interactions and brand meaning outcomes.


Prior research is limited in that it neither maps the process of cocreation within which meanings emerge nor provides theoretical conceptualizations of brand meaning or the process of BMCC. While the literature acknowledges that brand meaning is influenced by multiple interactions, their nature and how they contribute to BMCC have been overlooked.

Research limitations/implications

This paper reveals a significant gap in knowledge of how brand meaning is cocreated, despite the essential role of brand meaning for firm success and increasing academic interest in the notion of cocreation. Ultimately, this paper builds a conceptual foundation for empirical research in this regard.


This paper proposes that brand meaning is cocreated through the interconnection of different social and service systems, across system levels, time, and geographic space. Marketing theory is advanced by outlining a set of research propositions pertaining to the BMCC process. The authors consider how discrete actor-based brand meanings contribute to an overall brand gestalt and how such a gestalt potentially evolves along a continuum. Additionally, the authors provide a managerially and theoretically relevant research agenda to guide much needed empirical research into BMCC.



The authors thank Linda Price, Davide Ravasi, and Francis Farrelly for their insightful comments and constructive feedback on earlier drafts.


Tierney, K.D., Karpen, I.O. and Westberg, K. (2016), "Brand meaning cocreation: toward a conceptualization and research implications", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 911-932.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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