Semiotics – when and why you need it

Living in today’s world means interacting with a multitude of content on any given day. Whether it’s on social media, traditional media, or anywhere else, this content shapes our culture and the way consumers think. This is the playing field brands must navigate and thrive in.

Semiotics allows us to decipher that content. But most importantly, it’s a tool which can be used to help brands communicate more distinctively and more effectively, by providing a structured approach to make sense of the culture they exist in.

That’s not to say semiotics is the right solution for every business question, but used in the right capacity, semiotics can help to reimagine or breathe life into a brand.

So, when is it right to use semiotics?

1 / Your brand identity is in flux

Semiotics can allow you to conduct a rigorous brand audit. Semiotics can extract meaning from every choice made by a brand, from advertising campaigns through to packaging choices and even the brand name itself. By taking a holistic view, semiotics can help to refine and strengthen who the brand is and what it stands for – sharpening the core brand essence.

And for those brands with a water-tight essence, semiotics can be a useful tool. Take Google for example and the animations they superimpose over their logo. The famous the ‘Google doodle’ allows Google to visually represent a special date/ event, whilst simultaneously communicating a deeper, more inherent message: that Google is a modern, fun and human brand.

2 / You feel out of touch

Like people, brands can be guilty of being a little too inward focussed. They can lose perspective on what’s happening outside of themselves, and not just in relation to the competition. By analysing the codes that occur in and around a category and seeing how these evolve over time, semiotics is able to identify those individual codes brands need to express to stay relevant today and those more emergent ones that’ll make them stay relevant in the years to come.

3 / Your communications are failing to hit the mark

Are you finding you’re not seeing the impact you wanted from your last campaign? Perhaps you’re trying to increase penetration by going after a new demographic? Or you’re finding inspiration is lacking and you’re relying too heavily on category convention? Here is where semiotics can be invaluable. Semiotics allows you to tap into the resonant cues of your audience, bringing them into your communications. It can also provide rigour and rationale for creative choices, providing reassurance should the brand wish to try a new creative direction, whilst knowing it’s remaining true to its essence.

This is only a snapshot into the kinds of business challenges which semiotics can help with. If you want to hear more about how semiotics can help optimise your business ambition, do get in touch!