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MA thesis of Cultural Branding Applied to Design

Katri Ollila became interested in brands and branding, which formed the topic of her thesis.
Adverticing sketches for the ”Inspired by chocolate” -consept

During her studies, Katri Ollila became interested in brands and branding, which formed the topic of her thesis in which she studied how a Cultural Branding method could be applied into a design process through the case of a well-known chocolate brand.

In her thesis, Ollila tested the Cultural Branding Strategy, developed by Holt and Cameron, to see if it could bring new viewpoints to chocolate brands. ”The target of the strategy is to create a culturally meaningful brand, which can be considered an icon. Other cultural products, such as movies, books, and celebrities, can also be considered as icons if they are representations of important ideas within society”. Icons deliver exceptional identity value, which consumers utilize when creating their own identities. According to the strategy, conventional branding methods do not create iconic brands.

Ollila started the process by mapping the cultural codes, myths, and ideologies of the chocolate category. She analysed 55 chocolate advertisements from several chocolate producers published in the past ten years. Ollila identified several mythologies in chocolate advertising and packaging, which are constructed by cultural codes and signs. All the signs were decoded, and meanings, such as sophistication and power, were signified. Further analysis exposed the myths used by the different chocolate brands.

”I wanted to concentrate on advertising and packaging, because they are the targeted outcomes of my design process and tend to use a lot of semiotic resources,” Ollila explains. Through analysis of advertising and packaging design, she created visual concepts to support her research findings. She utilized the current social movements and created concepts that convey strong cultural assertions.

In her thesis, Ollila shows the potential of mythologies and demonstrates the relevance of semiotic analyses in the beginning of the design process. Through the process, she showcased how the Cultural Branding Strategy can be adopted in the field of packaging design.

Katri Ollila: Cultural Branding Applied to Design: The Case of a Finnish Chocolate Brand

MA Student of IDBM, Department of Design

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