The brand as informational capital
In her rich and insightful book, Brands: The Logos of the Global Economy, Celia Lury argues that the brand, in its contemporary format could be understood as a ‘new media object’. Emerging at the ‘intersection of the diverse histories of computing, information technology and media as well as those of economics, marketing and design’ the brand embodies the logic of the new media, as described by Manovich (Lury, 2004: 6; Manovich, 2001). First, she argues, brands are dynamic, multi-layered and open ended, this way they embody the incompleteness and variability that characterizes new media objects. Second, the brand works as an interface between producers and consumers; this way it promotes forms of interactivity, typical of new media in general. This, Lury argues, also makes the brand a good example both of the (general) ‘status of the object’ in the information age, and (to follow her pun) the ‘object-ive’ that contemporary capitalism tends to pursue: an open ended, interactive relation to the consumer (ibid.: 151). In this concluding chapter I would like to expand on Lury’s suggestion to argue that brands can be understood to exemplify, not only the status of objects in the information age, but also the very logic of informational capital. (Indeed, drawing on Lukács , one could argue that it is its being a sort of paradigmatic manifestation of the logic of capital that also makes the brand into what Lury argues is an ontological paradigm.) Like the factory in times of Fordism, the brand stands out as a central institutionalization, a concrete manifestation of the abstract logic of accumulation that drives capital in the information age. What then is capital; what is its logic; what is the logic of informational capital, and how does the brand embody it?