Networked political brands: consumption, community and political expression in contemporary brand culture

Thomas J. Billard*, Rachel E. Moran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article synthesises theory from the fields of marketing and communication to understand how the practices and outcomes of branding have evolved into systems of symbolic expression and community building. Through an exploration of parallel theoretical models of branding and mass communication, we posit a new theory of ‘networked branding’ that better takes into account how communicative power is distributed within a brand culture that is heavily mediated by networked communication technologies. Applying this theory of networked branding to the realm of politics we explore the ambivalent outcomes of branding in relation to capitalism and civic culture. Through an interrogation of two examples of networked branding from the political realm – the successful presidential campaign and subsequent administration of Donald Trump and the co-optation of the National Park Service’s brand by activists rallying against the Trump administration – this article explores how branding is utilised within politics as a platform for communication and social organisation. Drawing on the affective, interactive and social dynamics of modern mediatised branding, we interrogate the powers and limitations of consumer agency in contemporary brand culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-604
Number of pages17
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Volume42
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • civic action
  • marketing theory
  • networked branding
  • political branding
  • political culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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