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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 17, 2018

Brand Personification as Bonding

A sociosemiotic analysis of three packaging cases

Shukun Chen and Jing Lin
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


Brand personification has been well investigated in marketing literature. However, it is still rarely studied from the semiotic perspective, which offers a lens to research how the semiotic resources of products could be designed to personify the brand. Under the framework of systemic functional sociosemiotics, brand personification is theorized as a semiotic process of bonding, referring to the shared coupling of value and character. Two primary choices of bonding strategies are proposed: appreciation/judgment and affect. The source and target of appreciation/judgment are labeled as Appraiser and Appraised while those of affect are labeled as Emoter and Trigger. It leads to further considerations of how to construe the character as Appraiser, Appraised, Emoter, and/or Trigger. Then, the paper, drawing on visual and verbal grammars founded on systemic functional sociosemiotics, proceeds to illustrate how semiotic resources are co-deployed to realize these bonding strategies via a close analysis of three packaging cases of a company, Uni-President. This study provides theoretical backup for the brand personification in marketing and serves as a useful guideline for brand personification design, in particular, multimodal communication in packaging.


This paper was presented at the International Conference on Business Linguistics and Intercultural Business Communication. We would like to thank the audience for their comments and advice.

  1. Funding: The paper is part of the research project “Design-driven innovation from a sociosemiotic perspective” endorsed by Department of Education of Guangdong Province (2016WQNCX111) and Guangdong University of Finance (20170504192).


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Published Online: 2018-02-17
Published in Print: 2018-02-23

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