Landscapes of Global Capital
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The correlation or the establishment of equivalence between logo and meaning can be achieved by transforming a substantive object into an abstraction. The abstraction is similar enough to the substantive object that the signified of the original is still contained in the logo and yet streamlined enough to connote corporatism. What we have is the melding of the particular with the universal. This melding follows a range of themes: communal/contractual, affective/rational, caring/profitable, local/global, ethnic/multicultural, traditional/modern, individual/corporate. This compression of binary opposites in the design of the logo disguises what are often fundamental contradictions in the logics of capital, rationalization, and globalization. Moreover, the narrative and aesthetic of commercials reinforce the collapse of opposites.

Oppenheimer06-00 Oppenheimer06-00 Oppenheimer06-00 Oppenheimer06-00

Oppenheimer Funds logo is composed out of four hands grasping each other. The campaign focuses on the hands of musicians, athletes, and just family members. Their hands are metonyms for the individualized meaning that each person has placed on their own life course. These grainy vignettes are shot in black and white to further emphasize the concrete and particular. Investing in Oppenheimer Funds ensures that one's own life will have purpose and the financial resources to achieve it. At the end of each commercial the real hand is abstracted to form a piece of Oppenheimer's logo.

Cigna collapses commodification (business as a profit-making enterprise) and concern (the business of caring) so that there appears to be no difference between profit and care.

Experts say babies who get held a lot grow faster
That the touch of a hand can lower someone's blood pressure
That smiling releases helpful hormones
At Cigna health care these are all sound, scientific reasons for our particular way of doing things
It's called caring
And that should lower everyone's blood pressure

Cigna. A business of caring

Supported by a soundtrack of a meandering piano and a voice-over that oozes with concern Cigna's montage of sentimentality erases any sense that this corporation is in it for the money.

Cigna03-99 Cigna03-99 At the end of the commercial three children walk towards a lone tree that is replaced by Cigna's 'tree of life.'

Sign Formulas & Branding
Signifying Clusters

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© Copyright 1998-2003
Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey