Are we running rtoday Essay

This work aims to demonstrate that textual and visual signs are among social semiotic resources which contribute to the theme of self-presentation in corporations’ websites. Specifically, the intentional outcome of this study is to outline the varying ways in which the theme of corporate identity is consistently conveyed. It analyses the data extracted from the Nike website, to be more specific, from its ‘About Us’ section, applying multimodal frameworks outlined through the years by several authors, acknowledging image, word, colour and other numerous semiotic modes, through which social meanings of homepages are coded. 1. INTRODUCTION Since the 1990s, technology has rapidly developed, and social media and computer-mediated interactions have become daily practice in several societies. Traditional forms of language and communication found in the media have shifted from being one-dimensional and highly text-based to being highly multimodal. For this reason, a multimodal approach is indispensable if we want to analyze communication today, because it allows not only to look at situations with written and spoken language but also with respect to image, gaze, colour, layout. This work will use sociolinguistic and multimodal frameworks in order to analyse the official homepage of Nike and, to be more specific, its “About Us” section in particular, and how its online identity has been shaped. Nike is a famous American multinational corporation, that is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, and worldwide marketing and sales of footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and services. It is the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment. This is most likely the reason why Nike was chosen as the case of study for this kind of work. Furthermore, with the growth of online communication, professionals have understood that working on the homepage of corporation’s websites could be an opportunity to extend their reach to a more significant number of customers in relation to the constant presence of an affective-emotive component in those elements that contribute to the corporate identity’s building process. The purpose of this study is to substantiate the hypothesis that the Nike website and its structural organization in terms of language, images and, colours, have identifiable patterns of usage in order to create a sense of community, which can have social and practical implications for the customers and for the identity of the company itself. 2. BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY 2.1 Background The contemporary landscape of communication has been completely shaped, marked by a profound change in the uses, forms, and functions of the language. The place and role of the latter in inscribed communication are changing in digital forms of communication. Texts and images are taking on new functions and relationships. Technological developments have led to a particularly significant change: image is more and more taking the place of writing at the center of the communicational stage. As also stated by Petroni, one consequence of this is that it is increasingly difficult to still considering writing in isolation from the multimodal set in which it is embedded. (Petroni, 2011) This evolution has determined various methods of communication that surpass the written word. The way we understand messages as they are presented to us through different and evolving platforms is something that will likely be continually learned and developed as the advancements in technology continue to progress and evolve. For this reason, there is a recognized theoretical background that has established the term Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), a topic that has been examined by many prominent researchers in the field of linguistics as soon as the advent of hypertext and the World Wide Web, where “corporate websites have become through the years more and more powerful tools for promoting corporate identities and building relationships with audiences” (Topalian, 2003) (Pollach, 2005: 285). Recent studies on web communication have also focused on how websites employ specific means and features to build their corporate identity. For instance, Petroni (2011) has identified the main characteristics of a hypertext (granularity, multilinearity, nonsequentiality) analysing the core concept of multimodality and tested criteria for assessing the usability of websites explicitly referring to the concept of entropy. Moreover Gatti (2013) proposed an analysis of the metaphorical schemata used to build corporate identity through the structuring of texts history and memory based. Pollach (2005) developed an evaluation of usability, credibility and utility involved in self-presentation of twenty corporate websites. The work carried out below was conducted by regarding these studies as the principal base of the analysis’ method. 2.2 Methodology The subjects chosen as the unit of analysis are those sections presenting the company that most frequently include outlines of the company history (e.g., entitled “About Us”), values, vision, mission statements, since Gatti defines them as “part of the identity-centred communication that shapes the corporate culture.” (2013: 69) In order to analyse these features, it will also used a Kress and Van Leeuwen framework (2001), an established technique that analyses the visual modes of images and video, which can help to identify how participants use images to relate to each other and to the viewer. Because of Nike’s layout is structured around the image, the focus on the visual mode results as very important. Furthermore, the four modes namely writing, image, layout and colour, are the principal modes that this kind of study will focus on. For this reason, sentence structure, lexical choices, vocabulary and technical features would be considered in the language-level or text-based analysis, while image, layout, and colour will be also explored in the data in terms of visual components, image-writing relation, and interactivity. In addition, significant communicative indications as metaphor or personification would be also considered in the work of analysis. This approach will investigate both linguistic and non-linguistic (visual) features, that occur within the multinational’s self-identity construction process, in relation to their lexical denotation and how their use contributes to portraying Nike in a certain way. 3. RESULTS 1. Layout In terms of layout, at first glance, it is significant to note that the website is high multilinear and nonsequential. In fact, each image posted by Nike on its website’s homepage and “About Us” section is often a single picture, even those included in a commercial, but it “does not exclude the sequential and linear structure of written words”. (Petroni, 2011: 37) Furthermore, when focusing on the structure of the layout, it is possible to notice that all the sections are arranged following a high granularity. This make the website extremely interactive and “enable companies to enter into a dialogue with their audience.” (Pollach, 2005: 296). Contextual navigation includes, for example, link collections labelled “Read more” allowing visitors to freely search for the information they are looking for (figures number 2 and 3).

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