Semiotic analysis of packaging or websites

What is semiotics?

Semiotics is the study of the meanings conveyed by signs and symbols.  These signs and symbols can be shape, texture, colour, sound - anything actually.

Key concepts are:

  • Meaning is contextual.  What the colour red means in (say) a traffic light is likely very different from the meaning of red in a national flag, or a logo. The first thing the semiotician does is to identify all the potential signs in the packaging or whatever she is analysing, and the context in which it appears.
  • Meaning comes to us through difference. For consumers, the meaning of a brand is what it means relative to other brands. One brand will seem 'more natural', 'cheaper', 'more old fashioned' than another. 
  • Meaning can be conventional. There is nothing intrinsic about red that makes it mean 'stop'. It s something that people in our culture have learnt.

It can answer questions like: how natural, sustainable or premium is your packaging or branding?

'Natural' can be conveyed in different ways that we call 'codes'.  Some of these codes convey a different kind of natural - such as wilderness or artisan craft. Some of these coses are contemporary, some are becoming old-fashioned, and some are emerging.  The same technique is used for social media and website analysis.

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Check out these blog posts on semiotics

The semiotics of Christmas

The magic and absurdity of Christmas

What cookbooks and magazines can tell us about Christmas in Australia

Four different expressions of wellness

Tags: Semiotics, Rituals, Discourse Analysis, Cultural insight, Narratives, Myths

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