Advertising agencies are frequently the focus of sociological studies investigating the ways in which commodities are imbued with meanings, and the impacts of these efforts on consumer activity. However, advertising agencies face increasing competition from other symbolic intermediaries, of which branding consultancies are some of the most successful. This paper explores the nature and significance of branding by focusing upon three key themes: first, its history and relationship to the design industry; secondly, its everyday practice and efforts to translate brand values into material, as well as visual, form; and thirdly, the forms of knowledge drawn upon in its decision-making processes, and their relationship to its broader power and influence. These themes are addressed through a combination of historical analysis and empirical material drawn from interviews with branding professionals, and are framed with reference to the literature on cultural intermediarie
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