Internal branding in higher education: dialectical tensions underlying the discursive legitimation of a new brand of student diversity

Jelle Mampaey*, Vanja Schtemberg, Jos Schijns, Jeroen Huisman, Arild Waeraas

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Most studies on branding in higher education focus on external branding or image-building towards external stakeholders such as students. Internal branding is an underexplored topic, even though it should be considered as important as external branding. Internal branding is about achieving the necessary internal support for the external brand. Drawing on the theoretical concept of discursive legitimation, we explore the strategies that contribute to an internally supported new brand with student diversity as brand value. We conducted a case study of a Flemish university college that has (largely) succeeded in achieving internal support for its new external brand of student diversity. Analyzing the case from the perspective of Critical Discourse Analysis, we specifically zoomed in on the dialectical tensions underlying the discursive legitimation of this new brand. We identified three specific tensions, which illustrate the inherent complexity of the internal branding process: authorization as (dis)empowerment, normalization as (dis)empowerment and moralization as (dis)empowerment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)230-243
    JournalHigher Education Research & Development
    Issue number2
    Early online date17 Oct 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2020


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