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Branding as Communication


Susan B. Barnes

Once only a sign, technologies have helped to transform brands into symbols that we constantly encounter in our natural and mediated environments. Moreover, the branding of culture marks a commercialization of society. Almost everywhere we look, a brand name or logo appears.
By combining a scholarly approach with case studies and examples, this text bridges the worlds of communication and business by providing a single vocabulary in which to discuss branding. It brings these ideas together into a coherent framework to enable discussions on the topic to occur in a variety of disciplines. A number of perspectives are also provided, including brands as signs and symbols, brand personality, history, communication, cognitive factors, loyalty, personal branding, community, and social issues.
Providing a comprehensive overview of the branding process – from the creation of brands to analysis of their messages – readers will begin to understand the communicative impact of branding.
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Chapter 1. Branding Sign and Symbol


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It is in symbolic, visual terms that the designer ultimately realizes his perception and experiences; and it is in a world of symbols that man lives. —Paul Rand, 1985, p. 7

To examine brands in today’s world, this text begins by discussing signs and symbols. Because visuals are important in the branding process, symbolic and Gestalt thinking are required in the meaning making process. Linguistic concepts such as connotation and denotation are also important ideas for understanding branded messages. Often a branded message can be read in several different ways. This raises the question of whether or not a brand is a sign or symbol—a focus of this first chapter.

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