Sharing brand ideologies: A cultural analysis of startup brand failure

Cecilia Cassinger, Mia Larson, Szilvia Gyimothy, Jane Widtfeldt Meged

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The concept of sharing is commonly employed in brand narratives of platform-based start-ups to recruit users. This paper examines sharing as a brand ideology and how it is enacted by companies in the startup phase of business. As the sharing start-ups’ business model is dependent on transaction fees generated on the platforms, traction (i.e. a high volume of users) is critical for success. By analyzing commonalities in two failed attempts of generating traction for two sharing platforms for adventure tourism in Scandinavia, the study reveals some of the risks of adopting mainstream ideologies for startup brands.
The findings demonstrate how the ideology of sharing startup brands aims at positioning itself opposite to traditional business logic, by emphasizing utopian social ideals of community, whilst at the same time adhering to ideals of a radically free market economy. Contradictory values are used to differentiate sharing businesses and give them a – perhaps - deeper meaning. Ideological components such as community, anti-consumerism, and sustainability are used to reconfigure precarious contract labor as self-fulfillment and individual choice. It is argued that this fuzzy ideology is not transferable to all platform-based startup brands and that the lure of sharing needs to be treated with caution.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventGlobal Brand Conference : Academy of Marketing – SIG Brand, Identity & Corporate Reputation - Berlin School of Economics and Law, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 2019 May 82019 May 10
Conference number: 14th


ConferenceGlobal Brand Conference
Abbreviated titleGBC 2019
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Communication Studies


  • sharing economy
  • startup
  • branding
  • ideology
  • failure


Dive into the research topics of 'Sharing brand ideologies: A cultural analysis of startup brand failure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this