Brands: Meaning and Value in Media Culture

Adam Arvidsson

Probably the best cultural studies book I've been able to find on the practice of branding specifically, though that might be damning with faint praise. It's an advanced—but not terribly long—volume that was very difficult to finally track down, and probably not freely available to anyone outside of an academic library.

While following Arvidsson's long and winding argumentation was difficult at times, the one takeaway that this book offers that most other books on marketing and branding do not, is an exact economic analysis of the value branding itself generates; especially in the realm of economic intangibles where any company powerful enough can simply add a few zeroes to their asset pool by virtue of having won some arbitrarily-defined popularity contest. The skeptic in me wonders if it isn't a sign of fraud to generate such something from nothing.

I believe this was the last book on the subject I devoured before giving up on the whole deal. The weird frenzy that No Logo had inspired in me eventually subsided. This was, what I thought was, the best book on branding that I could find; yet even it didn't have the answer to whatever it was I hoped to find. It was the grand and triumphant terminus of a hard-fought line of inquiry, yet still no less a dead end.

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