Accentuating institutional brands: A multimodal analysis of the homepages of selected South African universities

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 10
  • Abstract:

    In seeking to disentangle themselves from the constraints of apartheid, South African universities have immersed themselves in an identity modification process in which they not only seek to redress the past, but also to reposition their identities as equal opportunity and non-racial institutions. In this paper, we investigate how the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University have used visual and verbal semiotics to re-design their identities on their homepages to appeal to diverse national and international clients. Using Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA), we show how the multi-semiotic choices work together on the homepages to give the universities differentiated, competitive, powerful and attractive brands. We conclude that the homepages blended cultural semiotic artefacts, historical, global and transformational discourses, and architectural landscapes to construct different brand identities that, in turn, rebrand the universities from edifices of apartheid education to equal opportunity institutions.