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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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The momentous sign of the rise of image-thinking, and its displacement of ideals is, of course, the rise of advertising…. In fact it has meant a reshaping of our very concept of truth. —Daniel J. Boorstin, 1987, p. 205

Fish don’t know they are in water because they are surrounded by it, which makes it impossible to see. Similarly, people are so surrounded by branding that it is something that we do not notice. Today we live in a branded world. Branding influences many aspects of our lives, whether we know it or not. The reason for this is part cultural, part emotional, and part economic.

While window shopping at the airport, a travel bag captured my attention because it was my favorite color. The bag was simple and of lightweight material, the kind that is good for travel. The price was over $100, which was a surprise, because I had just bought a fancy leather bag the week before. That bag was Western style, with bronze leather handles, a huge buckle, and rhinestones. It cost $50 and was purchased at a Western clothing store on an Indian reservation near my home. This made me think: Why was the cloth bag so expensive? ← vii | viii →

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