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Critical analysis of visual material provides an excellent insight to the social and cultural formation of a particular period. By analyzing visual language, representations and signifiers, one can gain a comprehensive understanding of significant paradigms that dominate any given time. This essay will explore various examples of advertising strategies and corporate identity within the field of financial corporations, to illustrate how they reflect the style, philosophical tendencies and cultural formation within the context they are produced. Critical analysis of these visual examples will provide an analytical conclusion to theorise the notion of a significant shift from the postmodern consumer culture and will provide a platform with which to characterize the cultural formation of the contemporary period.

The postmodern period, from the end of World War Two to the mid 90s, was a period dominated by capitalist ideologies and permeated by the consumer culture. By the mid 80s, the western world in particular was at the height of an “apocalyptic genre” (Docker, p.104) of advanced consumer capitalism, and the likes of advertising and branding had infiltrated society to extensive lengths. Inevitably, advanced consumer capitalism resulted in a society that was somewhat dictated by mass corporations. This was an age where globalization was deemed paramount to an organizations success and the global reach of a corporation was a representation of power and accomplishment. Companies wanted to promote themselves as having global recognition in order to imply success and stability. This concept can be seen in figure 1, where Australian owned bank Westpac is aligning themselves with a globally recognized event, World Expo 88. This action in itself reiterates the notion that global recognition is a measure of success and is reflective of the overall attitude of corporations in the postmodern period. The headline, reading “who can you bank on to serve the world?” provides further emphasis that corporations are answering to a consumer ideal when referring to their global positioning. Figure 2 further illustrates Westpac’s global stance, with the logo’s positioning line reading “Australia’s world bank”.

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