Yo logo(s): On the icono-plastic configuration of brand symbols

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Among the various areas with which the vast research field of branding is concerned, brand image is recognized as a territory most pertinently analyzed with semiotic tools, since it is populated by symbols that are amenable to interpretation, such as brand logos. According to Henderson and Cote (1998), logos are graphic designs that companies uses, with or without their name, to identify themselves or their products. Semiotics, and particularly structuralist semiotics (e.g., Floch 1990,1995; Landowski 1989; Fabbri 1998; Marrone 2001, 2007), has largely abandoned the scrutiny of symbols and signs as standalone objects of analysis, in favour of the conditions of meaning that underlie brand names (Danesi 2003), logos and ad campaigns (Floch 1990, 1995), but also point-of-sales materials (Floch 1984, 1988), retail environments (Hetzel 2002), websites and social networks (Zinna 2004). A contemporary and effective semiotic perspective (e.g., Rossolatos 2014), instead of looking at analyzing individual signs in symbolic terms (e.g., red is passion), is more concerned with (re)constructing the multimodal textual semiotic strategies that undergird manifest commercial discourse. Consequently, from the point of view of brand signification, logos as expressive units of brand image should be addressed on a different level than the one customarily presupposed in traditional consumer research (e.g., Keller 1998). From a semiotic point of view, the iconic aspects of brands, such as logos, and other visual elements, are considered not as isolated signs, but as textual elements, that are or should be inter-connected in a coherent fashion in structural gestalts, as noted by Lindekens (in Rossolatos 2013). Logos, for example, acquire meaning by entering into complex relations in larger semiotic configurations: horizontally, with other expressive brand elements (including competitors’ logos); vertically, with the story and the discourse of the brand which they are summoned to actualize iconically. In order to fully appreciate the iconic dimension of brands, they should be analyzed in the context of a wider æsthetic identity, while seeking to establish coherence among various sensory elements (be they specifically visual, or related to taste, olfaction, haptics, sound and any hybrid form thereof) in connection to some form of intelligibility. It is precisely within such a framework that this chapter conceptualize the form and function of brand logos in the following pages, by recourse to a string of mostly structuralist theories, applied to highly ‘visible’ case-studies.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteHandbook of Brand Semiotics
Numero di pagine30
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2015


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