Mon, Jan 24

DSGN 3100: Barthes and Myth

Today's objectives

  • Review assignment
  • Review readings
  • Myths and code
  • Assignment 2 prep


Agenda: Class 3


Connotation, denotation and other concepts


Barthes: Mythologies


Barthes: The New Citro├źn


Barthes: The Rhetoric of the Image





Denotation, Connotation and Myth

Creating Effective Brand Names: A Study of the Naming Process for background on practical aspects of naming.


Assignment 2

Assignment 2: Mapping connotations

Names are signs. Like many signs, they have both denotations and connotations.

This assignment is about connotation and codes.

Take a walking survey of the environment - choose a place - street, store or other site, and choose a category - cars, buildings, businesses, packaged food, or any type of product or other element. If you are confined for any COVID-related reasons, contact me privately and we can find an alternative.

The names need to have connotations - products that have, for example, numeric identifiers, will not work well for this, nor will products that use predominantly denotational names. Products where the name is an important part of the products's character - perfumes, cosmetics, wines, beer, energy drinks, watches, cars and other "aspirational" types of products work well for this assignment.

Record 20 names of the items of the type you have chosen. For each name, note two to four connotations of the name.

brand map of them based on the names - a bestiary, to use Barthes' term. A bestiary was a type of book popular in the medieval era, that combined images of animals - both real and imagined - with their mythical attributes.

Choose 2 axes for your brand map. For example, one axis could be mass appeal<->niche and the the other comfortable<->challenging. You will need to choose your axes carefully.


Make sure you map based on the connotations of the names , not the products themselves. Connotatitive values of names are what is most important here. Think about why the names are appropriate. What conventions are there about naming in this category? What qualities are the names trying to convey. In Barthian terms, what myths are these names supporting?

Then, group the names into ones that have similar connotations, or are based on similar "myths".

Once you have grouped and displayed your data, summarize your findings. What possible "codes" for your product or category can you suggest?

Present your findings for on-screen use - as a Keynote or Powerpoint presentation, or PDF for on-screen use. Make sure to include a title page with your full name as the first page or slide. Keep your connotation graphic to a single page.

Presentation format
  • Page 1: title page
  • Page 2: list of names+connotations
  • Page 3: group by connotations
  • Page 4: possible "codes" or "myths"
Late assignment penalties

For this assignment, late submissions will be penalized at 10% of the total mark (that is, if an assignment is graded out of 10, you will lose 1 point per day, starting on the due date.)

A 1-hour grace period after the assignment due time will be given to avoid any technical issues related to internet speed resulting in late assignment penalties.

The best approach, however, is to submit work early.

Due 6 PM, Feb 7. Upload the PDF file to Brightspace.