Semiotics in branding


SEMIOTICS is closely related to the field of linguistics which for its part is related to the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behaviour. It is the study of how meaning is created.

In branding semiotics can be a tool to identify, evaluate and exploit the cultural myth which exists at the heart of most successful brands.

If marketers are able to identify the rules of meaning that consumers have devised to encode and decode symbolic communication they can make better use of advertising, design and packaging. For example the colour gold is a symbol of wealth and authority. It is expected that if gold is used in the packaging of a product it must signal the fine quality it bears.

It is considered as vulgar in marketing if an inferior product is packaged in gold. Anything that is packaged in gold must be a superior product. The fragrance One Million is packaged in gold. Undoubtedly the fragrance must live up to the package that it comes in so that it does not deceive the consumer.

Esteemed researchers postulate that brands act as communicative sign devices at four levels.

  • Brand as a Utilitarian Sign
    This is when the brand communicates reliability effectiveness and economic performance. The brand Mazda may very well fit into this category.
  •  Brand as a Value Sign
    This is when the brand is noticeable for the value consumers place in it. Obviously consumers will place more value in owning a Mercedes-Benz than in owning a car with perceived less value.
  •  Brand as a Socio Cultural Sign
    This is when people wear particular colours to signify their allegiance to a football team. Another example is when people use certain brands to keep up just because the people they think highly of, use that brand.
  • Brand as Mythical Sign
    This is when the brand is identified by just a sign or symbol. A popular brand that is easily identified by its symbol is the Nike brand. In brief these are the semiotics in branding.

On a different note, I had reason to visit Mater Dei Hospital over the last ten or so days and I was greatly impressed with the service levels I experienced at the hospital. Other medical institutions would do well to learn from the Mater Dei Hospital Brand.

Every staff member treated both patients and visitors with great respect and with a smile. This brings joy to an experience that is otherwise tense and stressful. On doing a little bit of research I discovered that the hospital undertakes constant training of their staff to ensure that each person who has an encounter with the institution has a remarkable experience. Well done Mater Dei Hospital. May your flag fly high!

Another business that scored firsts with me this week is Lloyd Banks Hair Salon. I am in awe of how the proprietor goes an extra mile in ensuring the best service for his clients. There is no doubt that he takes his clients seriously and knows that it is in them that he gets return on investment. It is a service that I would recommend without hesitating. Undoubtedly my loyalties continue to rest with that brand. Well done Lloyd Banks.

It was my hope that I would continue and conclude with the article Branding as relationships. Maybe it would have been appropriate in a day that celebrates relationships like this one, but as any writer will tell you, inspiration does not follow a specific path and sometimes the writing instinct is inclined to other subjects more than others.

It is my hope that you enjoyed this piece just as much. I appreciate the feedback I continue to receive every week and I hope the column continues to experience growth in the number of its followers.

Till next week keep reading the red publication and remain Brand Savvy.