‘Double distinction’: an analysis of consumer participation in Apple branding

  • Chloe Peacock

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis aimed to understand the relationship between the Apple brand and Apple consumers. It presents an historical semiotic analysis of a selection of the Apple brand from 1978 to 2009 and in-depth interviews with Apple consumers. The interviews were then analysed thematically, looking at the ways participants employed Apple in the construction of identity. The thesis extends theoretical critical approaches to branding with the inclusion of participant interviews. Approaches to branding consider the role of consumers in brand production and ownership, but this thesis moves focus beyond abstraction to interrogate how much of consumer participation is predetermined by the brand. This was achieved by actually examining the ways in which brand consumers articulate the brand. In doing so findings showed that Apple consumers distinguish themselves from non-Apple consumers, but significantly they made a second distinction. For the first distinction, Apple consumers articulated emotional investment, superior aesthetic taste, and feelings of being part of an exclusive community. The second distinction is an articulation of uniqueness within the Apple community. This is achieved through creating a sense of critical distance from consumption via individual lifestyle and taste.
Date of Award1 Mar 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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