Marketing Semiotics: Signs, Strategies, and Brand Value

Marketing Semiotics: Signs, Strategies, and Brand Value

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By (author) Laura R. Oswald

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 234mm x 15mm | 422g
  • Publication date: 7 April 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 019956650X
  • ISBN 13: 9780199566501
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations, tables and figures
  • Sales rank: 382,539

Product description

Everyday consumers buy into the concept of brands and their associated meanings - the perception of quality, a symbolic relationship, a vicarious experience, or even a sense of identity. Marketing Semiotics suggests that the extent to which consumers recognize, internalize, and relate to brand meanings is not only an academic question. These meanings contribute to 'brand equity', the financial value of intangible brand benefits that exceed the use value of goods, and impacts upon a firm's financial performance. Therefore, the management of brand equity demands first and foremost the management of brand meanings, or semiotics. The book uses structural semiotics, a discipline that extends the laws of structural linguistics to the analysis of verbal, visual, and spatial sign systems, to shed light on the cultural codes and discourse of brands. It proposes that semiotic research should form the cornerstone of brand equity management, since brands rely so heavily on sign systems that contribute to profitability by distinguishing brands from simple commodities, from competitors, and engaging consumers in the brand world. The book includes dozens of global business cases where semiotics has been used to refocus, reposition, or extend the brand to new products, customers, and markets. Drawing upon twenty years of academic and consulting experience, the book provides actionable direction for steering brands through technological and cultural change, differentiating brands in the competitive environment, and counteracting the natural depletion of brand meaning over time.

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Author information

Laura Oswald, Ph.D. is founder and director of Marketing Semiotics Inc. Dr Oswald is an expert in the areas of brand strategy, consumer research, and semiotics - a social science discipline that examines brands and advertising in the framework of cultural signs and meanings. She conducts consumer studies in a variety of formats, including focus groups, in-depth interviews, and on-site ethnographies in North America, Europe, Singapore, and the People's Republic of China. Her research and consulting practice encompass a variety of application areas, from luxury goods to automotive and healthcare. In addition to consulting, Laura writes and teaches on current issues in advertising, consumer research, and strategy at meetings of the Association for Consumer Research, the American Marketing Association, the Qualitative Research Consultants Association, and the American Sociological Association.

Review quote

The world of marketing and consumerism has undergone a radical change in the last few decades-the brands that are put out there are perceived to be much more than products. They have morphed into signs, veritable symbols of who we are, what we aspire to be, and how we intend to attain our life goals. This is a radical change, since these signifying processes were in the domain of social institutions and ideologies. Advertising and marketing have become the new beacons in how we search for meaning. Oswald's book is a brilliant examination of how brands have evolved into meaning making structures. She deconstructs the process insightfully offering us a comprehensive purview of what a branded society is all about. This is required reading for everyone, from students in marketing and culture studies to the general public. It offers a cogent perspective on how brands and social processes are now intrinsically intertwined. Marcel Danesi, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto In books on the application of semiotics to marketing, there is probably a 'binary distinction' between those that are written for academics, emphasizing literature and theory, and those written for practitioners, stressing examples and cases. Laura Oswald's text carves out a new portion of this space, drawing rigorously on well-accepted principles and frameworks, and then showing their value in understanding and resolving real-world branding and advertising challenges. Anchoring strongly on her deep knowledge of the literature on meaning production and symbolic consumption, Oswald applies this to several real branding case studies from a variety of industries and cultures. I intend to use many of these principles and case studies in my branding classes: there is clearly much that marketing professionals can learn from them. Rajeev Batra, S.S. Kresge Professor of Marketing, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan Oswald has crafted a theoretically cogent and empirically rich account of the making of meaning in the marketplace that is accessible to academics and practitioners alike. Anyone concerned with the cultural construction of value will benefit from her many and varied analyses of the contemporary brandscape. She delivers a sensitive interpretation of the mythologies that underlie contemporary commerce. The book will prove as useful in the boardroom as in the classroom. John F. Sherry, Jr., Herrick Professor and Department Chair, Mendoza College, University of Notre Dame. A breath of fresh air to the confining functional benefit brand view. Its in-depth discussion of how brands provide meaning to customer lives expands our understanding of brands and their roles. David Aaker, Vice-Chairman, Prophet, and author of Brand Relevance.

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Semiotics in the World of Goods ; 2. Marketing Semiotics ; 3. Mining the Consumer Brandscape ; 4. Brand Discourse ; 5. Mining the Multicultural Brandscape ; 6. The Semiotics of Consumer Space