Icons becoming brands: how can brands emerge as the result of culture - case Sauna as the iconic brand of Finland
School of Business | Master's thesis
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AbstractObjectives This research is essentially about branding. The main objectives were to find out how brands can emerge organically without the ownership or involvement from a company or an organization and to research how cultural icons can turn into brands. The research was conducted in the context of Finnish Sauna. Based on Douglas Holt's definition of "a brand being a culture that has been formed around a product", Sauna could be defined as a strong brand. The background of this study is in cultural branding and companies creating Iconic brands by connecting them to national cultures and managing them accordingly. This research focuses on studying how cultural branding can happen organically and cause a brand to emerge from within a society, without the management by a company. The research contributes to consumer culture theory, branding theory and the theory of cultural branding. Methods The research was interpretive and qualitative in nature. The data was gathered via eleven semi structured in-depth interviews conducted to Sauna enthusiasts and different professionals from the field of Sauna. Additionally several historical documents were studied and used as material for the research, to get the best understanding about how the brand of Sauna has emerged. Findings The findings of this study expressed that in certain environments and when certain prerequisites are filled, brands can emerge organically. The defined prerequisites supporting the emergence of the brand of Sauna were the Finnish culture of uniformity, sauna's close history with Finland and the mental and physical fit with the Finnish society. The factors that made Sauna develop into a brand were the ability to develop with the society, the nature of Sauna addressing the cultural contradictions, Sauna's strong position in the society feeding itself and the Finns' need to create something that they could be proud of. Based on the research these factors have resulted to the emergence of a strong and meaningful brand, which is managed through a shared ownership by a culture. The concept of a brand emerging from within a society without the management by a company was defined as Emergent Cultural Branding. The findings emphasize that the culture and the context in which a brand is created is highly important for the construction of a brand and the role of culture should thus be taken into consideration in the theory of branding.
brands, brand, brandit, consumer culture theory, cultural branding, sauna, culture, community