- Elgar original reference
Edited by Russell W. Belk
7 Researching the cultures of brands Anders Bengtsson and Jacob Ostberg Brands have emerged both as culturally important symbols that give ballast to consumers’ identity projects and as devices that bring competitive advantages to their legal owners. In both these respects, the study of brands has become a matter of central concern to marketing scholars around the world. In standard brand management textbooks, brands are generally understood as devices that help companies achieve competitive advantages by oﬀering added values to its customers (de Chernatony and McDonald, 2003), the socalled ‘mind-share’ approach (Holt, 2004). From this perspective, studying brands becomes a matter of analyzing and systematizing the strategies through which the brand was created and exploring the ways in which these strategies have the intended eﬀects on consumers. In contrast to this conventional way of doing brand research, there are other approaches that seek to capture the cultural richness of brand meanings in contemporary consumer culture. The view in this chapter is that a brand is a culturally constructed symbol, created by various types of authors who furnish it with symbolic content. This means that a brand is a co-constructed object whose meaning is closely bound to context and time. Many times, brand meaning is thought to be produced through a one-way communication process in which sets of neatly constructed brand identities are understood to be decoded into corresponding brand images. Rather than this overly simpliﬁed approach, we contend that the cultures of brands are dialectically constructed through...
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