Paul Manning’s anthropological analysis of the semiotics of branding. Much of the language and style is impenetrable and obtuse. Manning’s definition of branding is a bit tenuous and confusing. The brand is essentially an aggregation of semiotic (signs and signals) moments indexing tensions and relationships between producers, consumers, material and immaterial goods.
I work for the largest independent PR firm in the world as a research analyst. Branding is always top of mind for me because, unlike my colleagues who help create brands, I have to figure out how measure and assess their impact and reception in traditional and social media. The way I make sense of branding is to liken it to myth-making; brands are the mythology surrounding products, companies, and stakeholders.
I understand myths as the cultural space between the idealized and reality. A brand can be the idealized face of a company, the company a client wants to be. Other times, it can be a means to outright lie to stakeholders about the reality of a product, the means of its production (see Marx’s commodity fetishism) and the values of the company. My definition is not nearly as nuanced and detailed as Manning’s but it serves me well.