What Is Semiotics?

Semiotics is the study of how meaning is created and communicated by utilizing visual and linguistic “sign systems." You may think of a sign system as a language which rather than being pared down to words alone, also consists of other “signs” such as images, symbols, sounds, facial expressions, bodily gestures, objects, spatial relations, etc. In fact one of the founding figures in semiotics, Dr. Charles Sanders Pierce, also hailed as the father of pragmatism, observed that as people “we think only in signs”.

Since human beings are by nature social creatures, our survival is dependent on our ability to instinctively assimilate these complex sets of cultural conventions and recognize them instantly.

One classic example is of the traffic light. We are trained since childhood to understand the meanings of the various colors and react to its visual cues on a subconscious level. However, the meaning of a green, yellow, or red light or any sign in general exists only within the construct of these recognized cultural conventions known as sign systems. This means that viewing and interpreting signs is essential to navigating our way through our lives.

With this understanding, it is possible that every cultural phenomenon may be studied as a part of communication and therefore be reapplied for greatest effect.


Uses of Semiotics in Advertising

Since the late 1960’s semiotics has played an increasingly greater role in advertising by conveying an advertiser’s intended message through the use of culturally relevant (and continually evolving) signs and symbols. By understanding how these signs impact consumers advertisers gain many advantages such as:

  • Insight into the motivation and behavior of consumers

  • On target branding

  • Relevance to key demographic

  • Improved clarity and increased reception of public facing communications

The DMG Creative Solutions team is well versed in the application of semiotics and a number of corresponding theories and disciplines within the arts and social sciences. We are eager to put our knowledge and expertise to work for you crafting unique deliverables which will convey your intended message by appealing to the needs, desires, and emotions of your target audience on a subcognitive level. Contact us today for a free consultation.