Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Angela Widgeon


Brand Management, Instagram, Social Media, Target Corporation, Visual Social Semiotics


Advertising and Promotion Management | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Graphic Communications | Marketing | Mass Communication | Public Relations and Advertising | Social Media


With new technology arising, brands must be able to adapt to them. This thesis will break down brand management, using David Aaker's framework, of the Target Corporation to see if they are using modern resource, Instagram effectively. This thesis will also look at how the theory of visual social semiotics, applied to communications, is used to decipher intended meaning. Brand management embodies a company and people are driven by what a brand portrays. People are driven by values, emotions and quality within a brand. People associate products with memories, celebrities, attributes and symbols. Brands are more than just a name. A qualitative content analysis was used to look at themes and engagement to see if Target is managing their brand through their Instagram. Instagram is fairly new in the digital age, which means there has been little research that explores semiotics in new media. The @Target Instagram account was analyzed by looking at five dimensions of Instagram activity, which include included photos/videos, captions, likes, hashtags and comments. These dimensions were then analyzed in terms of Aaker's brand equity assets: awareness, loyalty, quality and brand associations as well as his identity core and extended identity core: product, organization, person and symbol. Target utilized their brand equity assets through their Instagram campaign and stayed true to their identity core and extended identity core. This study also found that visual social semiotics helped create an effective brand personality. Target used visual images and text in order to emphasize a point.