English   Danish

2022/2023  BA-BKOMV6004U  Naming & Framing: Mastering the Power of Words

English Title
Naming & Framing: Mastering the Power of Words

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Viktor Smith - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Innovation
  • Communication
  • Marketing
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 17-05-2022

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Formulate a set of clear research questions relative to a self-identified naming & framing challenge in business and/or society accepted by the teacher(s) to serve as an exam case.
  • Apply key theoretical concepts and empirical methods presented during the course to analyzing central strategic and operational aspects of the case chosen.
  • Propose and motivate an operational solution to meeting the naming & framing challenge identified.
Course prerequisites
Although the teaching language is English, the course will, to the extent possible, also address naming & framing challenges that involve other languages and cultures, including the native languages and cultural backgrounds of participating exchange students.
Naming & Framing: Mastering the Power of Words:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If the student has not yet identified a case to serve as a basis for the exam and had it approved by the teacher(s), the student must do so no later than 2 weeks before the re-take. If the student has previously submitted an exam paper based on self-identified case, but did not pass the exam, the student may either base the re-take on the same case or propose a new case and have it approved by the teacher(s) within the time limits indicated above.
Description of the exam procedure

The home assignment can be written in English or Danish at the student’s own choice. During the course, you will identify a naming & framing challenge in business and/or society which will constitute your case for the exam project. The topic must be approved by the teacher(s). The written assignment must be based on a set of clearly formulated research questions relating to the case chosen. It must account for the theoretical frameworks and the empirical methods on the basis of which the case is addressed and, on that background, propose and motivate an operational course of action for dealing with the naming & framing challenge identified. This includes discussing the implications and limitations of the choices made. The written product must be handed in on a set date following the last lecture.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Picking or creating the right words for something is crucial to how people will understand that “something” and whether they will love it or hate it, believe it or reject it, fear it or desire it… or buy it. Dealing systematically with these matters is a vital part of the job in a variety of fields that span from marketing, branding, and advertising, through PR and political communication, to national and cultural identity building, public health promotion, and climate-change action.


In recent years, the phrase naming & framing has become increasingly used for referring to the totality of communicative and psychological mechanisms in play here. The present course offers an integrated introduction to naming & framing processes as they unfold in the domains mentioned, and in everyday life. An emphasis is put on bridging between complementary theoretical perspectives and, not least, between theory and practice.


The overarching rationale is that the power of words ultimately comes down to four different, but tightly connected enterprises:


  1. Giving things names (otherwise, no one will care).
  2. Deciding on what name to give them (green tax works better than fuel tax).
  3. Further shaping people’s understanding of these names through surrounding verbal and non-verbal cues (Apple® just means ‘apple’, but has been framed to success by other words, images, and immediate consumer experiences).
  4. Selecting larger sets of names for presenting a wider subject in a particular light (a coup against a government is bad, a rebellion against a regime is good – but the names may well refer to the same events).


The course combines general insights on strategic communication and marketing with recent experimental findings on people’s real-time decoding of innovative words and word combinations (product names, brand names, political buzzwords, slogans, etc. – but also plain words), and psychological insights on the mental shortcuts and biases that make us receptive to persuasive framing effects. Throughout, word-based framing is seen as both depending on and contributing to framing effects achieved through non-verbal communi­cative means (pictures, colours, symbols, shapes, tastes, etc.). In addition to the theoretical curriculum, the participants will be introduced to selected methodological principles and tools suited for pinpointing the essence of concrete naming & framing challenges and for developing and pre-testing possible solutions to them. There will also be opportunities to try some of them out hands-on on a smaller scale.


On this basis, the course will enable the participants to contribute operationally to the planning, implementation and evaluation of naming and framing decisions for a variety of strategic and tactical purposes in private enterprises, public organizations, and with authorities.

Description of the teaching methods
Class lectures will be combined with practical exercises that will reinforce the participant’s analytical skills and capability to identify and come up with creative and effective solutions to concrete naming and framing challenges. This includes group presentation of self-identified cases involving essential naming and framing challenges for peer discussion and feedback. The casework in class will serve also as a basis for singling out the the real-life cases to be addressed in the participants’ final written assignments. If a group has been working together on a given case during the course, they may use that joint casework as a basis for their individual exam papers, as long as the papers remain clearly individualized. This includes the results of joint empirical work, pre-tests, etc. The choice of communicative domain for the final exam paper may reflect the personal interests and academic orientation of each participant, as long as the case falls within the overall scope of the course.

All activities serve to support the participants' development of the Nordic Nine competencies which constitute the overarching objective for all study programs at CBS.
Feedback during the teaching period
Continuous feedback will be given in the shape of oral or written comments on group presentations and the pre-exam paper, feedback on oral class exercises, and a multiple-choice test.
Student workload
Lectures and exercises 38 hours
Preparation and exam 170 hours
Total 208 hours
Expected literature

Main textbook:

  • Smith, V. (2021). Naming and Framing: Understanding the Power of Words Across Disciplines, Domains, and Modalities. Routledge Studies in Multimodality. New York: Taylor & Francis.


Supplementary chapters from:

  • Fairhurst, G. T. (2010). The Power of Framing: Creating the Language of Leadership. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Fill, C., & Turnbull, S. (2019). Marketing Communications. 8th Edition. London: Pearson.
  • Riezebos, R. (2003). Brand. Management: A. Theoretical and Practical Approach. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
  • Aitchison, J. (2012). Words in the Mind. An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon. 4th Edition. Oxford: Blackwell


The curriculum will furthermore include journal articles, reports, original case material, online resources, etc. available either online or via the Canvas portal or the CBS Library.  

Last updated on 17-05-2022