Fundamentals of brand semiotics
According to Paul Cobley and Litza Jansz- Signs function as a code between individuals and they trigger or “unlock” previous experiences. In a nutshell, a human being functions as a “homo significans,” that is to say, as a meaning-maker who uses signs to receive, understand, and convey information.
Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols as
elements of communication.
It also includes the analysis of language, gestures, symbols, attire as stereotypical system of communications.
It is said to be developed in the first half of twentieth century in France and Italy. This branch of science deals with people’s interpretations and the meanings of signs.
This century, seems to augur the significance of semiotics to create better and bigger brands. A sign (S) refers to an object (O), so for example a half bitten apple refers to a revolutionary tech brand. Similarly, a three white stripes represent a pioneer sporting brand. In brand semiotics, the sign/s has to be interpreted by consumer- the interpretant (I).
The relationship between a sign and an object (S- O) is called semantics. The relationship between a sign and an interpretant (S- I) is called pragmatics. The relationship between the signs (S- S) is called Syntax.
A sign can be related to an object in three ways:
1) Iconic signs: are non abstract signs which represent the utmost similarity with the actual object. This can either be in the form of drawing or photograph. Picture of the product in any commercial,’the packshot’ is the iconic sign of the product.
2) Indexical signs: signifies an object or event because of the obvious connection with the object. Like, in the event of a broken window pane we tend to look for stone on the floor. That means we try to seek the causation of the event. Indexical signs can be treated as symptoms with a definite causation. This is the reason why sport brands always use slim models as indexical signs in their commercials, only to relate their brand with looks and fitness.
3) Symbolic sign: These are the signs which are related to an object, event or community based on a agreement or convention. Like a red sphere on white background symbolizes Japanese culture, tradition, language as well as anything and everything Japanese. Another example of symbolic sign is the peace logo.
The symbol originally designed for the British nuclear disarmament movement is now widely used.
Any advertisement may contain either of these three signs for the advertised product or the brand. Any advertisement with the original product image is an iconic sign. It is indexical signs if one can draw product attributes from those signs. Any advertisement with the logo or the brand name mentioned in it is an example of symbolic sign.
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