chapter  2
40 Pages

Brand, Image and Identity

This chapter will examine the role of ‘brand’ in an attempt to understand how the nature of a consumptive society has impacted upon our urban experiences and narratives. The spatial orders of the contemporary city and their illegibility, defined in Chapter 1, are negotiated by brand led identities in an effort to supersede one another and establish their own clarity and networks. To begin to understand that which is defined as ‘brand’ in a modern urban context it is essential that the value of the ‘image’ and ‘sign’ are explored from both a historical and contemporary perspective. It will be shown how the beginnings of a Western visual culture transformed our perception of self and of environment, and how rapidly the sense of sight or vision found its primary role in modernity. The traditional definitions of aesthetic and the relationship of aesthetic to the exploded cultural catalogue of abstraction, will identify the role of architecture in this order, as an art that was both hindered and slightly contradictory during the early part of the twentieth century. The notion of aesthetic, when considered now, without architectural order or classical geometry, is so subjective that it is almost obsolete; Klingmann (2007) refers to this as the shift from the ‘functional’ to the ‘experiential’. The latter part of this chapter will illustrate the ways in which image, as an entity, now has a greater cultural impact than aesthetic; a higher value. Image value is distinctly a condition of modernity. The value of the image, the power of the image and the proliferation of the image, as proposed by Baudrillard and Lefebvre,1 exist within a context of placeless and spatially confused urbanism. Image can be seen to have supplanted reality; the sheer volume of visual media bears a direct comparison with globalized economic networks. The ‘predatory colonisation of open space’2 demanded by a global market is a metaphor for the all consuming sprawl of the image. Image value is sign value is brand value.