“Isology” of the signifying relationship between signifier and signified - the ultimate aim of constructing corporate image

“Isology” implies the exclusiveness and uniqueness of the signifying relationship as well as the extreme naturalization of the signifying relationship. The signified of a sign is supposed to be ambiguous and indefinite, aimed at multiplicity of meanings. But what “isology” endeavors to do is to deconstruct such a multiplicity by constructing a signifying relationship that seeks to remain indivisible in particular historical period. This is where the ultimate purpose of constructing the corporate image lies. An enterprise would try to inject the signified, the meanings that it wants to disseminate, into a multitude of fragmentary signifiers anywhere and anytime and to finalize the sign’s signifying relationship through deceptively gentle, lyrical and appealing narrative techniques. By resorting to a full range of communication strategies to reinforce this signifying relationship, the enterprise seeks to construct a relatively stable and well-defined corporate image and to make this image appear natural, objective and factual. With its unique charm, the corporate image keeps the consumers enchanted with the commodities produced by that particular company. For the consumers, while consuming its commodities, they are also consuming some sort of special meaning that has been created by the corporate image and they derive pleasure from a certain feeling. It has to be acknowledged that it is the unique charm of the corporate image that makes it possible for the final fulfillment of the symbolic value of the commodities. Therefore, the ultimate meaning of constructing the corporate image dwells in the effort to construct a stable and exclusive relationship of “isology” between the signifier and the signified and to facilitate the materialization of the symbolic value of the commodities.

The romantic taste of the “petty bourgeoisie” associated with Haagen-Dazs, the youthfulness and vitality associated with Coca Cola, the innovativeness and fashionableness associated with Apple products, the considerateness and credibility associated with Haier, all those unique corporate images have been frozen in the consciousness of the general public, and, during particular periods of history, the signifier and the signified of an enterprise’s symbol are welded into an indivisible whole. The result is that a particular signifier has to be chosen in order to express a particular signified and, vice versa, when one is exposed to a particular signifier, he or she would automatically select a certain pre-fixed signified. The existence of this “isology” of the signifying relationship might seem natural, as we would have the least intention to question the signifying relationship between an enterprise and its corporate image. Neither do we perceive any of the mandatory rules underlying this relationship. Nevertheless, in the construction of the corporate image, the “matching” of the signifier with the signified is informed by strong ideology. In the communication of the corporate symbol, the signifying relationship of a symbol must conform to the intention of the communicator in order for it to exist, and, under the forced inculcation by the mass media, the signifier of a sign is deprived of its ability and the means to randomly bind with any other potential signified. It may even be possible that its existing signification would be forcibly ignored because of the suppression by the mass media, therefore only the pre-designated signified could be communicated. In all the media of advertising, this mandatory designation has been covered up so well by all kinds of dazzling signifiers that it may seem extremely natural. It may take the form of those media that seems to have been removed from ideology, or it may take the form of a touching narrative of love and care, and it may even take the form of a self-presentation independent of anyone else. However, it is forever transmitting a certain message and conveying a certain meaning that the communicator has imposed upon the symbol. This is exactly the trick played by “isology,” submerging the forced nature of signification in a sea of natural appearances.

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