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Symbol-intensive brand

A symbol-intensive brand is a brand adopted not only for its functional benefits, but above all, for the strong symbolism and significance that it is able to transmit, allowing a consumer to express his or her identity, to signal status or manifest a sense of belonging to a group.

Businesses might be based on three different types of knowledge: analytical; synthetic or symbolic.[1][2] Creative or cultural businesses, such as entertainment, publishing, design, or fashion, draw heavily on a symbolic knowledge base. They serve important symbolic functions such as capturing, refracting, and legitimating social knowledge and values.[3][4] The essence of a brand or a product in these industries resides in its meaning for the consumer rather than in its function.[5]

The symbol-intensive brand[6] definition has been firstly introduced by Stefania Saviolo and Antonio Marazza in the book ‘Lifestyle Brands – A Guide to Inspirational Marketing’. Analyzing a brand’s choices in terms of competitive scope (number of targets and categories served) and type of benefits provided to the customer,[7] five classes of Symbol-intensive brands are identified:

  1. Authority brands
  2. Solution brands
  3. Icon brands
  4. Cult brands
  5. Lifestyle brands

Symbol-intensive brands are able to maintain a relationship with their clients that goes beyond the usual brand loyalty. Clients tend to become ambassadors, fans, champions, that find the brand fundamental or irreplaceable in their lives. Researchers have noted superior economic and financial performances in brands capable of engaging people or influencing a social context proposing an original point of view.[8][9]


  1. ^ Asheim, B.; Coenen, L.; Moodysson, J.; Vang, J. (2007). "Constructing knowledge-based regional advantage: implications for regional innovation policy". Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. 7: 140–157.
  2. ^ Cooke, P.; et al. (2005). "Research, knowledge and open innovation: spatial impacts upon organization of knowledge-intensive industry clusters". Paper presented at the conference of Regional Studies Association “Regional Growth Agendas”: 1–27.
  3. ^ Caves, Richard E. (2000). Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. Harvard University Press.
  4. ^ Roman, Martin; Moodysson Jerker (2011). "Innovation in symbolic industries: the geography and organization of knowledge sourcing". European Planning Studies. 19 (7).
  5. ^ Jones, Candace; Thornton Patricia H. (2005). "Transformation in Cultural Industries". Research in the sociology of organization. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. 23.
  6. ^ Saviolo, Stefania; Marazza, Antonio (2012). Lifestyle Brands - A Guide to Aspirational Marketing. Palgrave Macmillan.
  7. ^ Aaker, D.A. (30/09). "Beyond Functional Benefits". Marketing News. Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  8. ^ Jacobson, R.; Mizik N. (2009). "Valuing Branded Businesses". Journal of Marketing. 73 (6).
  9. ^ Ravasi, D.; Rindova V. (2008). Handbook of emerging approaches to organization studies. Sage Publications.