Thursday, August 28, 2014

Seminar on building strong brands with structuralist rhetorical semiotics, New Bulgarian University, Sofia September 19th 2014

Seminar objectives

The seminar on ‘Building strong brands with structuralist rhetorical semiotics’ is intent on discussing crucial conceptual and methodological challenges that were faced while constructing a novel approach to brand equity planning. Brand equity constitutes the pinnacle of branding research and the hallmark of applied brand management. It is both a process and set of S.M.A.R.T objectives with regard to how strong brands may be built and maintained over time.  At the heart of brand equity lie brand associations. Brand associations have been amply theorized and operationalized in marketing research from a cognitive psychological point of view. However, the relationship between the diachronic deployment of a brand’s figurative language and its semantic nucleus has been unduly scrutinized. This seminar will display step-by-step how strong brands may be built and managed over time with the aid of structuralist rhetorical semiotics. By drawing on the conceptual construct of consumer-based brand equity, from a marketing literature point of view, and superior linguistic value, as its semiotic counterpart, the model of the brand trajectory of signification reinstates the time-hallowed generativist model that was initially put forward by Greimas and Court├ęs in a connectionist vein. The suggested 9-step methodological framework is intent on operationalizing the connectionist rendition of the trajectory of signification by adding dynamism to the morphologically and syntactically distinctive components of the trajectory. The suggested methodological framework focuses on the strength and uniqueness of brand associations as integral aspects of a brand’s equity structure and comprises a set of calculi that aim at addressing from a brand textuality point of view how associations may be systematically linked to their key sources with an emphasis on the ad filmic text. The framework draws on two pillars, interpretative semiotic analysis and content analysis. The qualitative research design is facilitated by quantitative analysis techniques, also featuring multivariate mapping, with view to adding rigour to the process of pattern generation, in quest for sources of differential figurative advantages, but also of modes of co-variation among semic and figurative elements of brand discourses. The benefits of adopting a brand textuality perspective in brand equity planning will be highlighted in line with the conceptual/methodological framework that underpins the connectionist approach to the brand trajectory of signification. 

Indicative references

George Rossolatos (2014a). Brand equity planning with structuralist rhetorical semiotics. Kassel: Kassel University Press. 
George Rossolatos (2014b). A methodological framework for projecting brand equity: Putting back the imaginary into brand knowledge structures. Sign System Studies 42(1): 98-136.
George Rossolatos (2014c). Exploring the rhetorical semiotic brand image structure of ad films with multivariate mapping techniques. Semiotica Vol.200: 335-358.

You may view and download the presentation @

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Brand equity planning with structuralist rhetorical semiotics

Title: Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics

ISBN: 978-3-86219-706-4 (print)
            978-3-86219-707-1 (e-book)
Author: George Rossolatos
Release date: February 2014
Pages: 895
Publisher: Kassel University Press
Available for preview and purchase @

Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics furnishes an innovative conceptual model and methodology for brand equity planning, with view to addressing a crucial gap in the marketing and semiotic literatures concerning how advertising multimodal textual elements may be transformed into brand associations, with an emphasis on rhetorical relata as modes of connectivity between a brand’s surface and depth grammar.  The scope of this project is inter-disciplinary, spanning research areas such as brand equity, structuralist semiotics, textual semiotics, visual and film semiotics, multimodal rhetoric, film theory, psychoanalysis. The proposed connectionist conceptual model of the brand trajectory of signification is operationalized through a methodological framework that encompasses a structuralist semiotic interpretative approach to the textual formation of brand equity, supported by quantitative content analysis with the aid of the software Atlas.ti and the application of multivariate mapping techniques. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lady Gaga as (dis)simulacrum of Deleuzian monstrosity (forthcoming)

Lady Gaga’s celebrity DNA revolves around the notion of monstrosity, an extensively and multifariously researched concept in post-modern cultural studies. This study draws on biographical and archival visual data relating to the Gaga phenomenon with a focus on the relatively underexplored live-show, with view to elucidating what is really monstrous about Lady Gaga. The argumentation that is put forward by drawing largely on Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of monstrosity, as well as on their approach to the study of sign-systems that was deployed in Thousand Plateaus, is supportive of the position that monstrosity as sign seeks to appropriate the horizon of unlimited semiosis as radical alterity and openness to signifying possibilities. In this context it is argued that Gaga is a simulacrum of herself (supreme signifier) and at the same time a (dis)simulacrum or dissimulative (feigned) simulacrum. Gaga is monstrous for her community insofar as she demands of her fans to project their semiosic horizon onto her as simulacrum of infinite semiosis, albeit a simulacrum that, in (the) reality (principle), may only be evinced dissimulatively in a feigned manner as (dis)simulacrum. Pursuant to an extensive analysis of the linguistically unarticulated, yet multimodally considerably more insightful imagery from seminal live shows during 2011-2012, Gaga’s presumed monstrosity is ultimately rendered as more akin to hyperdifferentiation. 

Keywords: monstrosity, sign systems, flows of intensity, territorialization, Lady Gaga

Monday, June 9, 2014

Conducting multimodal rhetorical analysis of TV ads with Atlas.ti 7, Multimodal Communication 3(1), pp. 51-84.

This paper lays out the steps involved in the process of analyzing the rhetorical structure of TV ads with the employment of the content analytic software Atlas.ti 7. By drawing on a corpus of 87 TV commercials from brands that make up the world’s most valuable brands according to WPP’s BrandZ 2012 report and a resulting pool of 561 ad filmic segments, it will be shown (i) how TV ads may be segmented, (ii) how individual segments may be coded with one or more verbo-visual rhetorical figures in the light of three distinctive levels of analysis (on an intra-segment level, between two succeeding segments, against the background of an ad film’s “global semantic structure”) and (iii) how statistical output pertaining to the rhetorical structure of TV ads may be produced. This technically oriented analysis, which is part of ongoing research in the field of multimodal advertising rhetoric (cf. Rossolatos 2013a, 2013b, 2013c), is intended to contribute to scholarly research about the benefits that stem from combining an interpretive approach to the analysis of ads’ rhetorical configuration that is edified on film semiotics, with a quantitative approach, enabled by the employment of the content analytic software Atlas.ti 7.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is the semiosphere post-modernist?

This paper provides arguments for and against M.Lotman’s (2002) contention that Y.Lotman’s seminal concept of semiosphere is of post-modernist (post-structuralist; Posner 2011) orientation. A comparative reading of the definitional components of the semiosphere, their hierarchical relationship and their interactions is undertaken against the two principal axes of space and subjectivity in the light of Kantian transcendental idealism, as inaugural and authoritative figure of modernity, the Foucauldian discursive turn and the Deleuzian (post) radical empiricism (sic), as representative authors of the highly versatile post-modern vernacular. This comparative reading aims at highlighting not only similarities and differences between the Lotmanian conceptualization of the semiosphere and the concerned modernist and post-modernist authors, but the construct’s operational relevance in a post-metanarratives cultural predicament that has been coupled with the so-called spatial turn in cultural studies (Hess-Luttich 2012).   

Keywords: semiosphere, space, cultural subjectivity, modernity, post-modernity.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2-days seminar on Brand Semiotics
Tartu University
May 13-14 2014

                    George Rossolatos in front of Lotman's avant-garde statue outside of Tartu University's library. 
Primary target-group: Semiotics students from all levels (BA, MA, PhD) and faculty whose primary field of research is not marketing semiotics.
Secondary target-group: Academic researchers in the field of branding (in the wider marketing discipline) who are interested in learning about semiotic approaches to branding and brand equity.
Tertiary target group: Branding practitioners.

Seminar objectives
The primary aim of the seminar on Brand Semiotics is to acquaint academic researchers in the wider semiotic discipline with existing conceptual models and research methods in brand semiotics and in branding research with an intent on demonstrating how semiotic constructs may be fruitfully applied in building strong brands. The seminar is of inter-disciplinary orientation, spanning both semiotics and marketing disciplines, while highlighting how semiotics may provide answers to aspects of the research agenda in branding from a marketing point of view. Furthermore, the seminar aims at stimulating discussion about how semiotics has been applied thus far in branding research, but also about the research opportunities that lie ahead.

Topics that will be covered in the seminar:
-          Where semiotics actually fits in a strategic brand planning process?
-          What does ‘strong brand’ mean and how semiotic constructs may provide a robust platform for building strong brands and managing them over time?
-          Overview of branding models (from a marketing point of view)
-          Overview of brand semiotic models
-          Overview of methods for researching and building brands
-          Overview of dominant and emerging academic perspectives on branding and brand equity
-    Step-by-step exposition of a bespoke methodological framework for exploring and building brand equity from a brand textuality point of view    

About the presenter:
George Rossolatos is an academic researcher and marketing practitioner, with experience in advertising (JWT), marketing research (Research International/Millward Brown) and brand management (Colgate-Palmolive, Nestle, Weetabix, Cosmote). He holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy from the University of Essex, an MSc in Marketing from Manchester Business School and an MBA from Strathclyde Business School and a PhD in Marketing Semiotics from the University of Kassel. He is also the editor of the International Journal of Marketing Semiotics ). Major publications include Interactive Advertising: Dynamic Communication in the Information Era (2002), Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics (2012, 2014), Applying Structuralist Semiotics to Brand Image Research (2012),  //rhetor.dixit//: Understanding ad texts’ rhetorical structure for differential figurative advantage (2013), plus numerous articles in trade and academic journals. His research interests rest with effecting inter-disciplinary cross-fertilizations between marketing, rhetoric and semiotics, also informed by disciplines such as phenomenology, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, anthropology, communication theory, cultural studies.


Signed copy of Semiotics of Passions by Greimas

Signed copy of Theory of Literature by Tzvetan Todorov