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Option Module: Brands and Meaning: Theory and Practice

Brands pervade every aspect of our lives and their proliferation has led to the growth of branding as an industry and the increased recognition of their value as significant intangible assets. In this module you will consider the state of branding and marketing in the 21st century. You will also develop your understanding of the research methods used to deliver market insight as well as to account for the elusive concept of meaning which unifies both brand management and cultural reception.

You will explore semiotics and marketing theory as frameworks within which to understand brands and their symbolic value, and will be encouraged to relate these theories of branding to theories of consumption through the consideration of a variety of perspectives applied to generate consumer insight, including ethnography, neuroscience, behavioural economics, and a variety of methods of engaging consumers in the research process ( co-creation and crowd-sourcing).

In the third part of the module you will be invited to connect these theoretical insights to the practical challenges of communication through the study of 'ecosystems' of communication, including multimedia channels, the cultural content of communication, new technologies of communication and customisation, and buzz/ambient and apply these methods in a practical project.

Illustrative Bibliography

Arning, C. (2010): All in Good Time: Semantic Web and the Implications for Market Research Research Magazine

Baudrillard, J. (1998) Consumer Society (London: Sage)

Brown, S. (1995): Postmodern Marketing (Thompson: Consumer Research & Policy)

Carr, N. (2010): The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing how we think read and remember (Atlantic)

Danesi, M. (2007): The Quest for Meaning: A Guide to Semiotic Theory and Practice (Toronto

Earls, M. (2007): Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature (John & Wiley & Sons)

Giddens, A. (1991): Modernity and Self Identity: Self and Society in Late Modern Age (Polity Press)

Gladwell, M. (2006): Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (London: Penguin)

Gladwell, M. (2009): Outliers: The Story of Success (Penguin)

Grant, J. (2000): New Marketing Manifesto (Texere)

Hall, S. (1997): Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (Open University Press)

Heath, J. & Potter, J (2006): The Rebel Sell: How the Counter Culture Became Consumer Culture (Capstone)

Heath, R. (2001): Low Involvement Processing Influences the Way we Choose Brands (Admap Monographs)

IPPR with Energy Saving Trust (2007): Warm Words II: How the climate story is evolving and the lessons we can learn for encouraging public action

Klein, N. (2010): No Logo (Fourth Estate)

Kress, G. & Van Leewen, T (2006): Reading Images: the Grammar of Visual Design (Routledge)

Lash, S. & Lury. C (2007): Global Culture Industry (Polity Books)

Lasn, K. (2001): Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's suicidal consumer binge - and why we must (Harper Collins)

Leadbeater, C. (2008): We-think: Mass innovation, not mass production: The Power of Mass Creativity (Profile Books)