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fig.28—is cultural critique ‘always­-already’ brand-positioned?


 ‘Y.H.N.’ spent twenty­-odd years creating audiovisual media to generate excitement about and instill confidence in the quality products and services of reputable Fortune 500 firms with a mind to binding lifelong brand affiliation in you, the market target. For his next trick, we switch back to our second person to deal from both sides of the deck. A ‘name brand’ consists in and of signs, images and ideas—brand attributes—manipulated to evoke events in the minds of media consumers. But how do we ‘read’ and ‘write’ attributes across the media myriad? The praxis of brand positioning cuts an imposing figure: forever widening its territorial horizons, it throws an anamorphic shadow across the humanities and social sciences in the form of cultural theory (or ‘critique’). To position a brand entails constructive synthesis of attributes into effective brand encounters; conversely, to critique a brand encounter is to schematize these same attributes via deconstructive analysis. We offer this case study as an exercise for parties pro, con, or otherwise.

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fig.29—unisex traffic transacts androgynous commerce           


 Is Armani Exchange a coherent brand with a consistent image? Does its choice of language evoke reciprocal associations with its choice of imagery? As a brand extension, Armani Exchange differentiates from its well­-known (and well-heeled) parent brand by the ‘A|X’ glyph, in which the ‘|’ invokes a concept of ‘exchange’ thence aptly reinforced by hyper­-sexualized imagery. But is it an equal exchange? Of brand image, name and mark, what does each one speak of the other two? Using Lull’s method, our fig.29 Frame takes a snapshot of the semantic field invoked by all three in order to exchange variations among parts of speech. As we swap terms from row to column, we compose questions—e.g., what does it mean to transact unisex commerce? Straightforward answer: A|X cut the segment from the whole cloth of lifestyle marketing. But to reverse an androgynous market? Or, to swap metrosexual traffic? Here the picture gets a bit...ambiguous. So, how do such genera of gender generics generally engender genres…?

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