Semiotics at Ten

Sue Burden, director at IFF Research discusses how semiotics can be used within market research for visual branding benefits

In April 2008, the BBC switched to a red globe on a white background – in the west we see white as innocent and pure, giving the BBC news visuals quite a different context. It is now more “Red Cross” than “black shirts”, and more in harmony with its brand mission.

Of course, semiotics is only one factor in brand success, but understanding the unconscious communication landscape and how to use it to your brand’s advantage is something more and more marketers are appreciating. Recent examples of the successful use of semiotics include Waitrose deciding on the colours for their various store departments, pram manufacturers turning push chairs into desirable designer “must haves” and brands like Guinness optimising their advertising. It’s a technique that transcends sectors, audiences and cultures – and an opportunity for any brand manager seeking to engage customers at a deeper level.

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