Symbolism: Branding and Advertising.

Essay by adam25uk January 2004

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I will mainly focus on symbolic traits with relations to advertising but in order to do so we must first look at the Brand perspective. The symbolic values of branding are very strong and come in on many levels.

In order to understand and further investigate this topic, it is important to first define the meaning of symbolic and symbolism.

The Oxford dictionary definition for symbol is

"Sign; thing representing or typifying something"

A marketing dictionary defines symbolism as:

"Symbolic value and meaning are intangible, and the benefits are obtained only when the receiving person or group understands and share the same meaning as the person who is gives it"

In short symbolism is what we define or identify with different symbols and their associations. These symbols can range from definitive logos like the NIKE tick or Brand names like SONY. The meaning of each symbol differs from person to person and from culture to culture.

Marketers spend millions of pounds every year to create and support brand images. Every brand image is based on a brand concept or a brand specific abstract meaning. In it general form, a brand concept can be either symbolic or functional. Functional brands satisfy the immediate and practical needs while Symbolic brands satisfy symbolic needs such as those of self-expression and prestige.

Branding has its own associative values, for example "Rolex" watches are seen as very prestigious and extravagant timepieces while a "Casio" is also a timepiece but is seen with less prestige and value. A "Rolex" timepiece can fetch large sums of money even for the cheapest model while a "Casio" at its most expensive is still worth a fraction of the price of a "Rolex". The "Rolex" can be said to be a Symbolic brand while the "Casio" is more of...