Volume 34, Issue 3/4, 2018
Applied Brand Semiotics
Life’s a Circus
A Case Study of the Branding of Camper Shoes
Branding relies on coherence, which is in turn based on conceptual agreement. The various elements that make up a brand must work together, as must the brand respond satisfactorily to the expectations of its addressees. This article examines the case of Camper shoes, considering it a positive example of how a brand, when structured by metaphorical mappings within an adequate source domain, meets the expectations of its addressees and ensures the desired coherence in brand communication. Camper’s communication strategy is influenced by two conceptual metaphors—LIFE IS PLAY and THE WORLD IS A STAGE—mapped within one of the dominant metaphors in this market segment: CLOTHING IS SPORTS. Though many clothing brands are guided by the super-ordinate metaphor of sports, the sub-domains vary: tennis in the case of Lacoste, sailing for Gant, aerobics for Uniqlo, chess for G Star Raw and horse riding for Barbour. Camper is related to circus acrobats and performing clowns. Hence, the conceptual domain of CIRCUS is systematically mapped onto that of CAMPER, and the metaphorical entailment of the source domain CIRCUS constructs the target domain CAMPER. This study analyses the lexical, visual and spatial metaphorical entailments employed by Camper in order to demonstrate how these create a consistent chain that tightly binds its entire discourse and makes the brand discourse coherent.