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Iconic Brands and Materiality: Lenovo Reflective Essay

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Updated: Sep 7th, 2021

In his works, Daniel Miller develops a theory of materiality according to which individuals tend to express their values or attitudes through the acquisition and manipulation of material objects (Miller ac cited in Borgerson 2005, p. 440). Normally, they do it by buying the so-called iconic brands that are a part of a certain culture.

In other words, products do not serve only functional purposes; they also help customers express their identities and maintain relations with other people (Borgerson 2005, p. 440).

In this paper, I would like to speak about such a brand as Lenovo that can also be regarded as iconic brand in Chinese culture. In particular, I intend to discuss this product is related to the behavior of my relatives and friends. It seems that such a discussion can throw light on the behavior of many consumers.

At first, it is necessary to explain such a concept as iconic brand. One can say these material objects are recognizable within a certain culture and they are usually favored by consumers who live in a particular country or region (Clark & Clanton 2012, p. 141). The consumption of such goods signifies that a person belongs to a specific community or culture (Kravets & Orge 2010).

According to Douglas Holt (2002) such goods become a part a person’s identity. Furthermore, such products have to reflect cultural ideology of the country at a certain time (Holt 2004 p. 109; Simon 2011, p. 189). These are the most important attributes of iconic brands.

This discussion of iconic brands partly confirms Daniel Miller’s theory of materiality, especially the belief that goods or products are closely tied to a person’s social relations and self-expression.

Lenovo is one of the material goods which are recognized by people, who live in China, and there are several reasons for this popularity. In particular, one can speak about the high quality of their products like, especially tablet or laptop computers. One can say that they offer a good ratio of price, quality, and functionality.

To a great extent, brands like Lenovo show that Chinese companies can successfully integrate into the world market and compete with the most advanced companies (Cooke, Parrili, & Curbelo 2012, p. 227). Moreover, such technological products illustrate the creativity and efficiency of the Chinese people.

These are some of the reasons why Lenovo can be regarded as an iconic brand. It has to be admitted that Chinese customers can also buy products of other manufacturers. Nonetheless, technological solutions offered by Lenovo also enjoy significant demand in the country.

At this point, it is necessary to discuss the materiality of this brand. According to Daniel Miller, the primary cause of individual consumption is to underline personal values or individual differences (Miller 2008). For instance, by consuming products, people strive to show that they can make good choices (Miller 2008, p. 37; Saad 2007, p. 49).

Similarly, I can tell that in China, many people purchase the products of Lenovo in order to emphasize that they value efficiency, productivity, or excellent performance. This example shows that the possession of a certain material object is supposed to reflect some character traits of the owner (Wooliscroft, Tamilia, & Shapiro 2005, p. 81).

Many of my friends own the products of Lenovo and in this way they try to underline their technical suaveness and knowledge of hardware. To a great extent, these products have become a part of my friends’ identity.

Additionally, in his works, Daniel Miller stresses the idea that material objects are often used to emphasize the power of status of an individual (Miller 2009, p. 79). The most up-to-date products of Lenovo can also be regarded as a means of emphasizing ones status in the community.

In some cases, these products serve to underline the purchasing power of an individual. Thus, material goods can be regarded as symbols that serve to express a personal identity (Goldman, Gates, & Brewer 2004, p. 40). In some cases, they are needed to show the prestige of an individual. Lenovo products also play such a role.

Apart from that, the researchers of consumption argue that iconic brands have become an inseparable part of gift-making (Schroeder 2005, p. 32). The products can also be used for such purposes. For instance, I can mention that one of my close relatives gave me a Lenovo laptop as a birthday present.

Again, this case demonstrates that material objects are important for maintaining social relations with other people. Thus, Daniel Miller is right in pointing out that material goods is closely tied to the social relations of an individual.

On the whole, these examples indicate that material objects can be closely related to people’s values, attitudes, and beliefs. Moreover, such objects are closely related to people’s social relations. In most cases, such material objects are iconic brands that are recognized by people who live in a certain country. Lenovo is also an iconic brand that is recognized in China as well as other countries.


Borgerson, J 2005, ‘Materiality, Agency, and the Constitution of Consuming Subjects: Insights for Consumer Research’, Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 32 no. 20, pp. 439-443.

Clark, T & Clanton, D 2012, Understanding Religion and Popular Culture, Routledge: London.

Cooke, P., Parrili, M., & Curbelo, J 2012, Innovation, Global Change and Territorial Resilience, Edward Elgar Publishing, New York.

Goldman, C., Gates, S., & Brewer, A 2004, In Pursuit Of Prestige: Strategy And Competition In U.S. Higher Education, Transaction Publishers, New York.

Holt, D 2002, ‘Why Do Brands Cause Trouble? A Dialectical Theory of Consumer Culture and Branding’, Journal Of Consumer Research, vol. 29 no. 1, pp. 70-90.

Holt, D 2004, How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding, Harvard Business Press, Boston.

Kravets, O. and Orge, O 2010 “Iconic Brands: A Socio-Material Story’, Journal of Material Culture, vol. 10 no.2, pp. 205-32.

Miller, D 2008, The Comfort of Things, Polity, New York.

Miller, D 2009, Stuff, Polity: Cambridge.

Saad, G 2007, The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption, Routledge, London.

Schroeder, J 2005, Visual Consumption, Routledge, London.

Simon, M 2011, ‘Brands In Context’, Journal Of Advertising Research, vol. 51 no. 19, pp. 189-194.

Wooliscroft, B., Tamilia, R., & Shapiro, S 2005, A Twenty-First Century Guide to Aldersonian Marketing Thought, Springer, New York.

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