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Title: Identity, lifestyle, and face-mask branding : a social semiotic multimodal discourse analysis
Authors: Wang, Y 
Feng, DW 
Issue Date: Jun-2021
Source: Multimodality & society, June 2021, v. 1, no. 2, p. 216-237
Abstract: The massive introduction of face-masks across the world after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how they are designed and branded. Instead of merely focusing on functional qualities, face-mask producers have started to draw upon symbolic values in their branding discourse. Against this background, the present study investigates how face-masks are branded in Hong Kong by analyzing the design, packaging and websites for face-mask products, as well as the design of offline franchised stores using a social semiotic approach. Analysis of the multimodal data of four leading Hong Kong brands, with a focus on the use of verbal evaluation, iconography, typography, color, and materiality, reveals three symbolic meanings that are used in face-mask branding: (1) professionalism, which refers to the representation of face-masks as a symbol of advanced technology, (2) Hong Kong identity, which includes evoking pride in the past economy and exploiting the cultural symbol of the Lion Rock, and (3) fashion lifestyle, in which face-masks are associated with the values of stylishness, individuality, and luxuriousness. The exploitation of symbolic values and multimodal design in face-mask branding reflects the influence of the neoliberal ideology in the highly marketized Hong Kong society.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic
Emotional branding
Multimodal analysis
Hong Kong
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.
Journal: Multimodality & society 
ISSN: 2634-9795
EISSN: 2634-9809
DOI: 10.1177/26349795211014809
Rights: This is the accepted version of the publication Wang, Y., Feng, D. (William), & Ho, W. Y. J. (2021). Identity, lifestyle, and face-mask branding: A social semiotic multimodal discourse analysis. Multimodality & Society, 1(2), 216–237. Copyright © 2021 (The Author(s)). DOI:10.1177/26349795211014809.
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