The nature of the leveraging communication involving connotateurs in corporate advertising
The generation of a commodity’s symbolic value can be achieved by means of artificial pre-designation. But the communication of this symbolic value, it is believed, must depend on other symbols in order to achieve a kind of leveraging communication, or the so-called the conspiracy of meaning. In advertising-based communication, in particular, in order to carry out this kind of leveraging communication, it is necessary to locate a corresponding connotateur within the system of signs to realize the transfer and the dissemination of the meaning. A critical point is that, in all circumstances, this mechanism of generating meaning cannot be separated from particular historical and cultural contexts. In the communication of the sign, only when the encoder and decoder are located in the same or approximate symbolic domain can the meaning be successfully communicated. Otherwise, variations would occur in the decoding process, with the possibility of not only ruining the desired communication effect but also even triggering all kinds of misunderstandings. This rule underlies the genesis of the symbolic value of commodities, and, without exception, it also underlies the construction of the brand image and the corporate image. In order to successfully make use of connotateurs to achieve the leveraging communication, it is imperative to minimize variations in decoding.
In our preceding discussions, the notion of “connotative signification” has been mentioned. When the signifier (the plane of expression) of the connotative signification “is composed of a number of denotative combinations, that is, when it is jointly composed of a number of signs (signifiers and signified bound together), the signifiers of such connotative significations are called connotateurs.”34 To understand the idea of connotateurs more effectively, we can try to recall the idea of “similar items” in mathematics that students in primary or middle schools are exposed to. They all belong to an “aggregate” concept rather than constituting a single factor. Therefore, in order to make up a “connotateur,” it is necessary to have two or more “items” (that is, a sign consisting of a number of denotative combinations), and there should be similar structures or functions among those items. When they congregate as a cluster, they will be able to produce new significations, achieve the transplanting of meaning and accomplish the communication of meaning. This is exactly what is meant by the so-called “leveraging communication,” in which the communicator accomplishes the communication of one thing by relying on the force of another or accomplishes the communication of both by relying on the force of one another.