Language and Brands

  • Arthur Asa Berger


Brands rely on language to get their messages across. I begin with a discussion of Aristotle’s writings on persuasion in his book Rhetoric, where he talks about the different modes such as ethos, pathos, and logos. This leads to a discussion of trademarks, popular brands, and slogans, with a focus on Harley-Davidson slogans and the relationship of a Harley-Davidson slogan to American culture and history. I point out that a company’s slogan can connect with people at different levels and have multiple meanings, some of which function at a subliminal level.


Aristotle Ethos Pathos Logos Trademarks Slogans Harley-Davidson 


  1. Aristotle Rhetoric (Book I, Chapter 2) cited in McKeon, R. (Ed.). (1941). The Basic Works of Aristotle. New York, NY: Random House.Google Scholar
  2. Lanham, Richard A. (1991). A Handbook of Rhetorical Terms. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  3. Schouten, John W. and James H. McAlexander. (1993). “Market Impact of a Consumption Subculture: the Harley-Davidson Mystique”, in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. W. Fred Van Raaij and Gary J. Bamossy, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 389–393.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Asa Berger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication ArtsSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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