Creating Cultural Analogues in Virtual Communities through Branding

Creating Cultural Analogues in Virtual Communities through Branding

Robert Pennington (Fo Guang University, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6547-7.ch015
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This chapter shows how cultures construct analogues of actual environments, societies, communities, and the individuals who compose them. Analogues replace actual in human perception. Analogues engender further cultural development and renewal that produce higher order analogues in which the original actual may submerge into oblivion. Brands have evolved from representations of property to representations of consumers, but always expressing cultural value. As components of cultural discourse, brands have become an important mode of consumer communication, identifying and distinguishing consumers as social objects within consumer market culture. Virtual communities have evolved from telephonic verbal communication to highly interactive electronic media. Throughout this evolution, virtual communities have been analogues of actual communities to the extent that technology permits. Greater technological detail brings greater detail in the production of analogues. eBranding offers identity components in virtual consumer culture environments for transfer to actual consumer culture environments, resulting in brand viability and marketing success.
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Evolution Of Brands

Brands are signs, components of system of symbolic representations that largely constitutes culture. They have always expressed value, which is subjective. The origin of brands is cloudy. Centuries ago in traditional Indian marketplaces, some merchants already used tokens to distinguish their products from competitors’ commodities. Through such use, brands asserted greater relative value to buyers. Brands have also been statements of property, i.e. the right to possess, use, enjoy and dispose of an object. Such use asserts not only that an object carries subjective value, but also that the value belongs to the owner and no others Brands have been necessary to distinguish objects that were difficult to distinguish by their own inherent properties, attributes or characteristics that had subjective value. Brands further developed into statements of the outcome of product use when the attributes that cause the outcome were difficult to distinguish. That is, brands evolved to represent the expected subjectively valued outcome of human interaction with products. Through the entire evolutionaly process, brands have been components of conventional social communication.

Originally, brands most often occurred in the context of the objects to which they were attached in actual environments. By association, brands pirmarily represented objects and secondarily the outcome on the environment of interacting with the objects. Contemporary brands, however, most often occur within the context of marketing communication. That is, brands most often occur within the context of the system of symbolic representations that constitute the analogue world of culture. Therefore, consumers interpret brands based upon the context of communication more than upon product use or relationship with the producer.

Key Terms in this Chapter

BRAND: An arbitrary sign that represents qualities and relationships in consumer culture.

Virtual: Technologically generated forms in digital environments that are functionally equivalent to actual forms in natural environments.

Vividness: The quality of producing a broad range of sensory inputs.

Culture: The organizing principles of a social group for defining concepts and relationships in an environment.

Analogue: A relational equivalent of forms. An equivalent may take a form similar to an original, differing in scale or degree, or may take a completely distinct and arbitrary form. But the equivalent is perceived as a substitute for the original.

Interactivity: The capacity to effect reeal-time changes in an environment, which modify subsequent sensory inputs from the environment.

Presence: The sense of being in an environment. Philosphically, this can apply to any kind of environment. In digital environments, the degree to which users fail to acknowledge the mediation of technology.

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