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 cultural and brand semiotician, and co-principal of the agency SEMIOVOX LLC. He is editor and publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age sci-fi paperback imprint HILOBOOKS. He is author of (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY (2008) and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY (2011); and he is co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY (2007) and SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS (2012). With Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Tony Leone, Josh produced the popular family activities guides UNBORED (2012), UNBORED GAMES (2014), and UNBORED ADVENTURE (2015), not to mention two UNBORED activity kits from MindWare. 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. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons.