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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2015, Issue 207


How brands (don’t) do things: Corporate branding as practices of imagining “commens

Kyung-Nan Koh
Published Online: 2015-07-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0055


How do brands do things (if, indeed, they do)? Using ethnographic data gathered inside a Hawaiian corporation, this paper examines how the brand form is developed imaginatively by stitching together the various voices of corporate stakeholders and also organizing the relationship between the corporation or their products and the targeted publics as participants in a hypothetical semiotic participation framework. The concept of commens of Charles Sanders Peirce is used to help explain how corporate actors seek to create a felicitous condition by which brand forms may ensure reception of messages as well as perlocutionary acts of consumption. It is suggested that contemporary branding practices are understandable as attempts to establish commens – a necessary condition for any effective communication between sign-producers and sign-interpreting social agents.

Keywords: brand; commens; corporation; prolepsis; semiotic communication; semiotic ideology


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-07-17

Published in Print: 2015-10-01

Funding: Dissertation fieldwork was funded by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Grant No. 7224). This work, the writing of it, was supported by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of 2013.

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2015, Issue 207, Pages 451–473, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0055.

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