Branded. The Semiotics of Branding – culture + context
3-5 November, 2017

Branding and brand–design has achieved a reputation and status of almost mythical proportion over the past few decades. Emerging from its forerunner-corporate identity-to incorporate advertising, consumer lifestyles and attitudes; image-rights; market-research, customisation, global expansion, sound and semiotics, ‘the consumer-as-the-brand’-the word ‘branding’ currently appears bigger than its own umbrella definition. Habitually, in our contemporary societies of mass-consumption branding is associated primarily with marketing and commodities.

However, it immediately becomes apparent that what we call branding is an all pervasive social semiosis that arises from a widespread and multifaceted practice in the cultural field, rooted in the history of all human societies since time immemorial. From tribal markers such as totems, scarifications and tattoos, to emblems of power, language, fashion, architectural space, insignias of communal groups, heraldic devices, religious and political symbols, national flags and the like, a form of branding is at work that responds to the need to determine the presence and interaction of specific groups, persons or institutions through a shared code of meaning.

In the current context of global networks and mass communication, where we often talk of a boundless “ocean of information”, we are witnessing a proliferation of branding devices, mostly (but not exclusively) visual signs, which are indispensable both in the field of marketable goods and all manner of cultural domains, both conventional and unconventional, in order to delineate the units in the ceaseless flow of information that will enable us to navigate in it and make sense of it.

Branding can be applied to a tiny local coffee-shop [consumer-led branding–the brand emerging from the lifestyles of its potential market audience–not imposed from ‘above’]; to a football club’s global brand; political parties; a country, huge corporations; a pop star, a government agency, a charity; branding can be used to ameliorate a tarnished company’s image with a name change and a brand-change; consumers are living-brands, many young people enthusiastically identify themselves with their brand-choices and buy fully into brand values and signifiers – no longer standing ‘outside’ the mainstream culture [rebellion] but fully incorporated within it.

Those that protest against the globally-homogenised culture do so often in choreographed protests that have been branded for maximum impact cross media networks.

Do we identify more with brands than with race / creed / religion /ethnicity/ nationality?

Do ‘brand-values’ equate to ‘values’?

To what degree does branding exist as a set of floating signifiers in the global ‘image-repertoire’ above the surface of the real world [harsh realities hidden beneath]?

How much does it connect to people’s actual lives?

Can branding be escaped?

Is it ‘window-dressing’ for the dysfunctional machinery of turbo-capitalism?

How are designers, researchers, academics, consumers ethically positioned within it?

Can it cultivate ideologies or help?

The 3RD International Conference on Semiotics and Visual Communication seeks to bring together researchers, scholars and practitioners who share a common interest in Semiotics and Visual Communication. Proposals for individual papers, approximately 20 minutes long are invited, but are not limited, under one or more of the following main themes:

  • Brand mythology systems, world views and sacred beliefs in brands
  • Sartorial Branding and Tribal Branding
  • Branding for Political, Social and Cultural ideologies
  • Faith branding and visual communication
  • Language and branding
  • Mythical and literary branding references in early advertising/visual communication
  • The evolution of branding in printed, radio, television, film, internet and digital narratives
  • Music and sound in the service of branding
  • Branding and typography, graphic design, fashion, textiles, interior design, jewelry, product design
  • Branding through Architecture and Urban/Landscape design
  • Branding the Individual (self-branding), branding the body in cosmetic and medical practices, branding the suspect in modern surveillance regimes
  • Ethics and deontology of branding

The exhibition will be on until November 10, 2017, on the patio of Tassos Papadopoulos Building at Cyprus University of Technology, corner of Themidos and Ifigenias, Limassol.

Research Laboratories of the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts (SVC & LGCRL) support the organization of the conference. The conference is endorsed by IASS-AIS International Association for Semiotic Studies, the Hellenic Semiotic Association, the Cyprus Association of Graphic Designers and Illustrators  and +Design magazine. It is also supported by “Laser” Offset Printers and “The Copy Shop»”.