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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 9. Brands Become Icons


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An “icon” as I use the word here is a thematized commodity: an object, person, or experience that has acquired added value through the commercial heightening of meaning. —Ernest Sternberg, 1999, p. 4

Iconic brands are brands that have become cultural icons. These brands are so common that children learn the brand image. In fact, “The Logo Board Game” is based on our knowledge of brands, which is now so common that it can be used in a game. Some people identify themselves by the branded clothes they wear. Is the dress you’re wearing from Walmart or Neiman Marcus? It is the rare person who wears a dress from Walmart and a pair of designer shoes. Advertising agencies work their magic when they create a branded image and personality. As these brands are spread around the world, they can become iconic. However, not all brands become icons.

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