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Über dieses Buch

This book, written in an accessible style with numerous illustrations and with drawings by the author, discusses what brands are and the role brands play in American society and consumer cultures, in general. The book uses a cultural studies approach and draws upon concepts and theories from semiotics, psychoanalytic theory, sociological theory, discourse theory, and other related fields. It also quotes from a number of important thinkers whose ideas offer insights into various aspects of brands. Brands has chapters on topics such as what brands are, their role in society, brands and the psyche, brands and history, language and brands, the marketing of brands, brands and logos, the branded self, San Francisco and Japan as brands, brand sacrality, multi-modal discourse analysis and brands, and competition among brands.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Theoretical Considerations

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: Thinking About Brands

Abstract
This chapter considers topics such as the ubiquity of brands, the cultural studies nature of this book, the importance of logos and brands in consumer cultures, and the amount of advertising, for brands, to which we are subjected. It argues that because brands play such a large role in our lives, we don’t pay much attention to them—except, of course, when we decide to buy something.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 2. What Is a Brand? A Semiotic Analysis

Abstract
In this chapter, I define brands, deal with brand images, and explain how semiotics, the science of signs, is useful in analyzing brands. I deal with Saussure’s theories and his notion that a sign is composed of a sound-object or signifier and a concept that the signifier generates. He also writes about concepts only having meaning in terms of their not being like their opposites. I also discuss the difference between denotation and connotation, metaphor and metonymy, and differentiation in brands.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 3. Brands and the Psyche

Abstract
Freud’s ideas are useful in understanding how brands work and I discuss his theory about the different levels of the psyche and the importance of the unconscious, that part of the psyche to which we do not have access. I also discuss the work of Gerald Zaltman, who also deals with the unconscious, and Ernest Dichter, the father of motivation research. Freud’s ideas about the id, ego, and superego are also used to help understand the role brands play in our psyches and our lives. I offer a discussion of the difference between two kinds of consumers: maximizers and satisfizers. I also deal with cult brands, like Apple and Harley-Davidson. I also offer an example of what I call a “myth model” and use it to explain how myths may play a role in our decisions to purchase this or that brand of an object.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 4. Brands in Society, Society in Brands

Abstract
After offering a summary of what the book deals with, I discuss grid-group theory, which argues that there are four competing lifestyles/taste cultures that exist in any society: elitists, individualists, egalitarians, and fatalists. I suggest how each of these lifestyles shapes our choices in automobiles, smartphones, wine, and so on, and our choices in media and popular culture. This leads to a consideration of class differences in societies and the role class differences play, according to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, in determining our taste preferences. These preferences involve objects we buy but also political parties with which we identify.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 5. Marketing Brands

Abstract
Here we consider the way brands are marketed, the relation between socio-economic class and brands, how millennials relate to brands, the VALS (values and lifestyles) typology, which advertisers use to gain insights into their target audiences, and the role of marketing in consumer cultures. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the growth in the availability of objects to be consumed and with a discussion of “lifestyle” in contemporary consumer societies.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 6. Brands in History and History in Brands

Abstract
This chapter deals with the historical dimensions of branding and argues that branding is not a modern phenomenon tied to the development of capitalism and the growth of industrialization, but has existed for thousands of years. It takes issue, then, with views like Naomi Klein’s about the origins of branding in post-industrial Europe. Next, I deal with the social significance of brands and their role in shaping our everyday behavior. This leads to a discussion of postmodernism, which represented a major shift in American culture and replaced modernism in the United States around 1960. Postmodernism is a culture of consumption and therefore of brands.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 7. Language and Brands

Abstract
Brands rely on language to get their messages across. I begin with a discussion of Aristotle’s writings on persuasion in his book Rhetoric, where he talks about the different modes such as ethos, pathos, and logos. This leads to a discussion of trademarks, popular brands, and slogans, with a focus on Harley-Davidson slogans and the relationship of a Harley-Davidson slogan to American culture and history. I point out that a company’s slogan can connect with people at different levels and have multiple meanings, some of which function at a subliminal level.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 8. Logos and Visual Signifiers

Abstract
I describe logos as visual signs used by corporations in advertising and marketing. I discuss Naomi Klein’s book No Logos and her thesis that corporations sell brands rather than products. This leads to an analysis of Starbuck’s logos and whether they have evolved over the years. I suggest that logos are like icebergs and their meanings are connected to the cultures and subcultures in which people live. This discussion parallels my use of the iceberg metaphor to deal with the human psyche. I use Peirce’s trichotomy of different forms of signs—icon, index, symbol—to discuss logos and consider a number of iconic logos, such as the Michelin Man, Viking Cruises, and the Mercedes Benz three-pointed star. I conclude with a discussion of the use of logos by apps on our smartphones.
Arthur Asa Berger

Applications

Frontmatter

Chapter 9. The Branded Self

Abstract
This chapter deals with the way people use brands of products they purchase to define themselves to others and themselves and gain an identity. It considers the works of Saussure and semioticians which suggest that the meanings of things are socially transmitted and socially learned. This suggests that society is more than just a group of individuals, as the German sociologist Georg Simmel pointed out. I also quote from the Russian scholar M.M. Bakhtin about the intertextual nature of the creative process and suggest this helps explain our use of fashion to help create an identity. This leads to a discussion of the role of semiotics in branding by Laura Oswald. The example of attending elite universities as a means of self-branding is offered, followed by a discussion of the role of fashion in branding. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the self as a collection of brands that we use, and continually change as we redefine ourselves to others.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 10. San Francisco as a Brand

Abstract
This discussion of San Francisco as a brand is based on the fact that cities compete with one another to attract tourists, because of the financial benefits that tourism brings to a city. This chapter discusses a book, The Tourist, which contains information, in different chapters, about many of the different things tourists can do when they visit San Francisco. The chapter offers statistics on tourism in San Francisco and points out that a third of the tourists who come to the city are attending conferences of one kind or another. It concludes with a discussion of the Golden Gate Bridge and its cultural resonance and significance.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 11. Japan as a Brand

Abstract
In this chapter, we move from a focus on cities to a focus on countries, which are also brands and which compete with one another for tourists. Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world, if not the largest. It is a $7.6 trillion industry. Japan is working hard to attract more international tourists, who are put off by Japan’s reputation as being an expensive place to visit, though there are many other countries that are much more expensive, such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Japan’s National Tourism Organization is doing what it can to attract tourists. The chapter then discusses various aspects of Japanese culture and the Japanese mystique, which are what attracts tourists. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Japan as an exotic destination—in which combines modern skyscrapers and concrete cities with ancient forts and temples, which tourists like because they sense that they are authentic.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 12. Ocean Cruise-Line Wars or Selling the Seas

Abstract
This chapter deals with the ocean cruise industry and with the competition between different cruise lines or brands. Cruises are increasingly popular and the different cruise companies are building new ships as fast as they can. There is a great deal of competition among ocean cruise lines for passengers and considerable market segmentation in the industry, which is very profitable. There is considerable brand migration in the industry as many people move to more upscale cruise lines over the years. The chapter offers a discussion of brand and price differentiation in the ocean cruise industry, which is developed by the way they advertise themselves and, more recently, in the way they design their ships. Some cruise lines charge $1000 for a ten-day cruise and others charge $8000 for a ten-day cruise on a luxury line.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 13. Brand Sacrality

Abstract
Taking a cue from the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, who wrote about the contrast between the sacred and the profane in religious thoughts, I compare brands and religions and suggest there are a number of similarities between the two and that brands can be seen as functional alternatives to religions. I then discuss the Apple Corporation and its logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it, which calls to mind the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This leads to a discussion of the sacred nature of department stores, which I suggest are functional alternatives to cathedrals, and to discussion of religions as brands and brands as religions. Changing brands of smartphones from Android to Apple is, I suggest, similar to being converted to a new religion. I conclude with a comparison of Harley-Davidson rallies and religious festivals, which reinforce the attachment of attendees to their consumer cults.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 14. Brand Discourse

Abstract
The discipline of discourse analysis is introduced and explained, and its utility for understanding brands is dealt with. Discourse analysis originally focused only on language use but has evolved and now deals with images and sound as well. The language used in an interesting advertisement, for Hydracel moisturizer, is analyzed, in considerable detail, to show how the writer of this advertisement used metaphor to make an argument and convince readers to use the product. The analysis deals with the difference between scientific thinking and magical thinking in the Hydracel advertisement. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the cultural significance of the language used in a Harley-Davidson description of itself on its Internet page.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 15. Mythology and Brands

Abstract
After defining myths, and suggesting that myths still play a role in contemporary life, even though they do this in disguised form, we use myth to understand the mythic dimensions of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company, suggesting it is connected to the myth of Hades. We show this by using my “myth model” in which various aspects of myths, as they inform psychoanalytic theory, historical experience, elite culture, popular culture, and everyday life, are examined and applied to Harley-Davidson.
Arthur Asa Berger

Chapter 16. Coda

Abstract
This chapter acts as a summary of some of the main topics discussed in the book. I offer a brief primer on semiotics, which is useful in analyzing logos, icons, and other phenomena associated with brands since semiotics explains how we find meaning in words, symbols, and images. I also discuss group theory and its notion that there are four lifestyles in the United States which are all in conflict with one another. This is followed by a discussion of postmodern theory and its relevance to consumer culture and an overview of the contents of some of the chapters.
Arthur Asa Berger

Backmatter

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