Code-X (19)
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Codebreaking, Semiotics

british airways

Call this cultural code: British Process.

Definition: Process is to premium-ness as provenance is to luxury: Instead of gloating over a brand’s distinguished history and authentic pedigree, the brand geeks out over how brilliantly designed its product is… how painstaking its high-tech process. If the brand is British (or “British” in the case of British brands that have been acquired by non-British companies), all the better — because British boffins are (in America’s collective unconscious) perfectionists.


Notes on this code: Dyson, for example: The company’s founder is portrayed as a relentless, perfectionist genius. The brand’s communications foreground diagrams and cutaways.

dyson 2



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Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based semiotic culture and brand analyst. He is editor/publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age science fiction imprint HILOBOOKS. In addition, Josh is co-author of several books, including (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) the family activities guides UNBORED, UNBORED GAMES, and the forthcoming UNBORED ADVENTURE. In the ’00s, Josh was an editor and columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE's IDEAS section; in the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT.