Opening Value Theory to the Brand

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Rethinking Marxism

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

This essay explores the value form of branding as it can be understood through an interpretation of Marx's value theory in the tradition of Resnick and Wolff. It argues that a brand is best understood as a fictitious value form—a construct that allows expected future revenues to circulate as current values. In combination, consumers’ communicative work about a brand and their payment of a price premium at the cash register make the brand intellectual property with a positive money equivalent. The brand's value form bears no necessary relationship to the paid advertising, marketing labor, and unpaid communicative work of consumers that went into its creation but is rather found to be in proportion to the expected future payments of the price premium. The brand's money equivalent can now potentially be realized, but no productive labor has yet been performed and no labor value has been realized, making the brand a fictitious value form.