Sunday, January 06, 2008

How to imbue products with symbolic meaning

Describing your product with branding ...

"Many people pay silly money to wear a particular logo or a designer brand. Of course, a designer outfit doesn't keep you any warmer or dryer than an unbranded one, but functionality is only part of the story. Designer products say something about you – you are a trendy, sexy or sophisticated person. Brands help us to express who we think we are and who we want to be.

Big name brands are an integral part of our lives, says Davide Ravasi, associate professor in the Institute of Strategic Management of Bocconi University, Italy. Whether its Levi jeans, BMW cars or Nokia phones, we know the brands we like. These are more than products; they are symbols, or in other words, they are objects carrying meaning.

In a recent ESF Exploratory Workshop convened by Ravasi, scholars of various disciplines within the social sciences discussed how symbolic attributes of products affect their adoption and evolution.

The idea that goods and services hold symbolic as well as functional value has been recognised for decades, but is still poorly understood in the context of business management. Management theory and practice tends to focus on business processes: the most efficient and economic way to deliver good quality, functional products. Indeed, management studies prefer to shy away from “wishy-washy” topics like branding, considering it more of a sloppy marketing concept.

“Branding is just one way of endowing products with meanings. But there are others, such as product design or even process innovation.” explains Ravasi, “However, little research has been done on how business processes and activities, like customer service and production, can systematically create symbolic value in products. This is such an unexplored field that we don't even have our terms and definitions and methodologies agreed on yet. The workshop was just the beginning of researchers in this field to come together and start work on developing a common language and concepts."    (Continued via PhysOrg)    [Usability Resources]

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