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Visual Branding A Rhetorical and Historical Analysis

A Rhetorical and Historical Analysis

Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

Visual Branding pulls together analyses of logos, typeface, color, and spokes-characters to give a comprehensive account of the visual devices used in branding and advertising. The book places each avenue for visual branding within a rhetorical framework that explains what that device can accomplish for the brand. It lays out the available possibilities for constructing logos and distinguishes basic types along with examples of their use and evolution over time.
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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

In Chapter 9, we distinguish between pictorial content and pictorial style. While both are important to visual branding, we explain why a rhetorical perspective cannot do much with pictorial content. We then distinguish nine kinds of pictorial style, based primarily on the purpose served by the picture and the relative predominance, in an ad, of pictures relative to words. We also discuss why conventional psychological perspectives on brand advertising tend to under-play the importance of pictures in branding, and likewise understate the range of persuasive and branding functions that can be performed by pictures.
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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

Chapter 3 draws on a large sample of brand marks from leading contemporary brands to develop a typology of the rhetorical possibilities for brand mark design. We first critique existing attempts to divvy up the space of possibilities for the design of marks. Next, we distinguish six fundamental design options, grouped into three zones. The zones distinguish brand mark design options according to how much visual stimulation and reward they potentially offer the consumer. At the bottom are logotypes: text-only brand marks, which may be black and white or in color. In the next-higher zone we place graphicized logotypes: designs in which text remains dominant, but which also include graphic elements. In the simplest case, the text making up the brand name is surrounded by a border or placed on a color field. More visually stimulating are cases of letter art, where one or more letters in the brand name are reworked and extended with graphic elements. In the third and highest zone are logos proper, where the text is less dominant. There are two possibilities here: text of the brand name may be emblazoned on a graphic background or, even more stimulating, the text of the name may be accompanied by a stand-alone graphic design, an emblem. The chapter concludes with empirical data supporting the typology, based on a sample of more than 200 leading brand marks, and a discussion of possible extensions and challenges.
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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

Chapter 6 is the first of four chapters that examine the individual elements used in visual branding. As such, this chapter begins with an extended critique of psychological perspectives on typeface and the other visual elements. We compare the Cartesian model that underlies psychological treatments, which assumes infinite gradations within an n-dimensional space of typeface design possibilities, with the more finite model assumed under rhetorical perspectives, in which there are a limited number of discrete gambits for design of a typeface. Drawing on the 500 brand marks assembled earlier for Chapters 3 and 4, we lay out these basic gambits, which include whether to make the typeface figurative or not, and whether to emphasize weight or flourish in the design of individual letters. We then draw on the historical data in Chapters 1 and 2 to show that visual branding through typeface design developed slowly. Specifically, while brand managers have carefully selected type, almost from the beginning of brand advertising before 1900, it was only after the 1920s that many brands began to design their own custom typefaces, and to enforce consistency in typeface over time and across brand appearances. Prior to that date brands tended to make fickle choices among typefaces judged to be either decorative, or suitable for flagging reader attention. The point of the chapter is that the elements of visual branding were not all immediately commandeered, and that visual branding is not a timeless endeavor, but one which emerged in history, with different elements following different trajectories.
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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

Chapter Seven unifies the field of spokes-characters under the umbrella of attempts to personify the brand. We offer a typology of spokes-characters that distinguishes between human or creature, fictive or real, and custom or stock characters. We discuss the possible benefits of personifying the brand, and develop a model of how visual branding can change brand meanings, using spokes-characters as a salient example of how such meaning change may proceed.
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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

Chapter 5 examines in more detail how the design of brand marks changed over the past century, and traces the roots of early brand marks in heraldry. We chart a consistent, long-term trend toward more graphically elaborate brand marks. We discuss how to reconcile this trend with Chapter 4’s demonstration that there is no single best type of brand mark design. We end the chapter with speculations about how brand mark design may evolve over the next few decades, as the electronic screen supersedes the printed page, and as computing power continues to become ever cheaper, more pervasive, and more widely available.
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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

This chapter explains why the 1890s are a suitable point of beginning for a historical examination of visual branding in the United States. It profiles five phases in the development of visual branding in the context of magazine advertising: (1) tentative early attempts around 1900; (2) rapid development in the 1920s; (3) growing sophistication in the 1950s; (4) the culmination of color printing in the 1980s; and (5) and the transition to the new, Photoshop-influenced era of digital media in the 2000s. This chapter also develops the importance of technological developments in shaping actual practice in visual branding.
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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

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Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

Chapter 2 examines more than 60 examples of brand advertising sampled from the five time periods profiled in Chapter 1. The basic components of visual branding are tied to specific ad examples across time: the brand logo or trademark, the typeface used, how color is incorporated, whether a spokes-character appears, and the style of picture used. The ad examples show how these elements of visual branding evolved over time. Technological developments in printing and photo reproduction are assessed and tied back to changes in visual branding. The historical discussion in Chapters 1 and 2 lays the foundation for the rhetorical analyses pursued in later chapters.