The Semiotics of Brand

Posted: 18 Oct 2010

See all articles by Paul Manning

Paul Manning

University of Liverpool - Management School (ULMS); Trent University

Date Written: October 2010


Approaches to the semiotics of brand are troubled by the lack of any accepted analytic definition of the phenomenon, as well as capacious, almost metaphysical, extensions in which brand becomes identified with semiosis as such, and thus everything is a brand. In addition, studies of brand tend to focus on highly visible or successful brands, as often as not as a proxy for a real object of analytic interest that lies elsewhere. Brand discourse defines brand in opposition to the material properties of the product, leading to a dematerialization of brand, which erases the messy materialities, contingencies, and hybrids that continually arise in the material semiosis of brand. Rather than attempt a definition of brand, the recent literature on brand semiotics is explored along several material and semiotic dimensions of the variousness of its relationship to its universes of circulation and in different professional discourses and historical and cultural contexts.

Suggested Citation

Manning, Paul, The Semiotics of Brand (October 2010). Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 39, pp. 33-49, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Paul Manning (Contact Author)

University of Liverpool - Management School (ULMS)

Chatham Street
Liverpool, L69 7ZH
United Kingdom

Trent University ( email )

1600 West Bank Drive
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8

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