Institutional theory is emerging as an influential perspective in marketing however the role of institutions in branding, and in particular brand meaning co-creation, is limited. This is problematic because brand-facing actors determine the legitimacy of brands and brand behaviors which are influential in shaping both meaning-making and institutions in their favor. This paper seeks to advance knowledge at the intersection of institutional theory and branding by exploring the nature of brand meaning co-creation. Three illustrative vignettes show how divergence between community and organizational institutions influences brand meaning co-creation. In doing so it is argued that brand meaning co-creation represents a meaningful mechanism for institutional (re)shaping which can be driven by brand-facing actors. This paper contributes to the limited research exploring the role of brand-facing actors in transforming organizational and broader socially constructed institutions through brand meaning co-creation and the reciprocal nature of this process.
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