Decoding culture for brands: Semiotics 

How to use semiotics

  • Use semiotics to assess how your brand communicates - its language, colour, shape, symbolism.

  • Use semiotics to decode consumer culture

  • We use semiotics for sensory meaning, ie meaning created through visual images and through sound, touch, taste, aroma, and texture.

  • Use semiotics on its own, or as part of a qualitative research project

  • Semiotics uses visual imager analysis to reveal  how ideas are represented in culture.

Why use semiotics

Let’s say that you want to know how people’s ideas of ‘freshness’ are changing?  You can ask people, but in our experience they will struggle to give you more than you know already.  This is a cultural issue, so you need to use cultural analysis.

Semiotics: some examples

  • The semiotics of female ageing and menopause

  • Understanding 'italianicity' from an Australian perspective

  • Cultural variations in notions of freshness

  • Sensory semiotics to assist packaging design for foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals

  • Visual representation of the older 'retiree' market

  • The best semiotic analysis goes beyond lists of codes and territories.  The best semiotic research tells you what these codes mean in human terms.

 Semiotics: our experience

We have worked with semiotics since the 1980's. We conduct semiotics projects in Australia for international clients. We innovate and use semiotics in contemporary ways. 

Susan Bell has spoken at conferences and webinars on semiotics and published papers on semiotics in peer-reviewed academic journals. 

We are across all the major theories and know how to apply them to commercial marketing issues in ways that are easy to understand. We draw on a wide range of semiotic theories and models such as narratives, myths and rituals, as well as the residual/dominant/emergent code classification.

Some things to know about semiotics

  • Semiotics can be 'top-down' or 'bottom up'. Ask us to explain what that means!

  • Sometimes, the insight comes from focusing on symbolism and ritual.

More about semiotics in these blog posts

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

Decoding the meaning of the Christmas meal


Tags: Semiotics, Rituals, Discourse Analysis, Cultural insight, Narratives, Myths, Female ageing, Syllabell