Twitchell, J. B. (2004) Reflections and Reviews: An English Teacher Looks at Branding

Main Idea

Twitchell has a background in English Literature.  Asserts that branding is based on literature and myth (but he doesn’t mention Barthes?).

  • Describes branding as a “commercial variant of storytelling…a brand is simply as story attached to a manufactured product.
  • “The brand gathers its power because it concentrates on what is called in adspeak “ownership.”
  • Advertising is simply a genre of literature

Pathetic Fallacy is the Truth of Branding -How does the story become a brand? 3 Factors are necessary:

  1. Separating fungible products
  2. Humanizing of the material world (similar to anthropomorphism)
  3. Suspending judgement (disbelief?) in hopes of building a relationship

We don’t even know what we want.  This is how brand stories infect us:

“We desperately want meaning, things cannot supply it, and so we install it.  That is why branding works.”

Brands as Gated Communities –

“What marks the modern world is that certain brand fictions have been able to generate a deep and almost instantaneous bond between consumers.”

“Brand families” operate as real families.

Brands as Religious Stories – high end brands promise fulfillment using religious metaphors and analogies terms such as “brand soul,” “brand aura,” and “brand icon.”  They have symbolic religious significance and we worship them.

Brand mythology allows us to fetishize the world.  We desire to:

“transcend the material world and experience satisfaction of life by consuming material stuff.”


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