Iconic brands: a socio-material story
Journal of Material Culture
205 - 232
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This article takes the story of a monument to a Soviet brand of cheese as a starting point for discussing the socio-material practices that underlie the elevation of some brands to iconic status in the post-Soviet context. While the literature on iconic or 'symbolically dense' brands primarily focuses on shared meanings and ideas that iconic goods come to stand for, we argue that a material perspective provides a richer and more nuanced understanding of this consecration process. Accordingly, we consider the manifold material forms and practices through which the iconic status of some Soviet goods is constituted and identify (perceived) material constancy, monumentalization and legal codification as three main realms through which the transcendent socio-cultural values of these brands are contested and established. We take the story of a monument to a brand as a challenge to bringing the notion of materiality into a more explicit and dynamic relationship with signification, thus moving from the separation of the two notions. Such a move, we suggest, helps elaborate the role of iconic consumer goods in re-constructing social bonds, community identities and ideology. © The Author(s), 2010.