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Drawing on rich empirical material, this revealing book builds up a critical theory, arguing that brands have become an important tool for transforming everyday life into economic value. When branding lifestyles or value complexes onto their products, companies assume that consumers desire products for their ability to give meaning to their lives. Yet, brands also have a key function within managerial strategy. Examining the history of audience and market research, marketing thought and advertising strategy; the first part of this book traces the historical development of branding, whilst the second part evaluates new media, contemporary management and overall media economics to present the first systematic theory of brands: the brand as a key institution in information capitalism. It includes chapters on: consumption marketing brand management online branding the brand as informational capital. Richly illustrated with case studies from market research, advertising, shop displays, mobile phones, the internet and virtual companies, this outstanding book is essential reading for students and researchers of the sociology of media, cultural studies, advertising and consumer studies and marketing.