We are all unknowingly everyday lab rats in the art of semiotics, and most of us don’t even realise!
Well, that’s kind of the point. We all react to signs around us without having to think about it. Do you remember your journey into work? How many signs did you react to without having to consciously process the outcome?
Signs on your dashboard, road signs, traffic reports, indicators of other cars, emergency vehicles, weather report, etc. Signs can also be verbal, images, sounds, gestures and objects.
Can you ever remember studying what all these signs mean and how you should react to them? OK, maybe yes for the highway code, but for others I’m sure not.
My kids have certainly learnt a lot of hand gestures as I drive them to school most days, and my driving is not great! They also know the meaning of all of these, even though I have never taught them!
Semiotics has evolved over the years, and if you want to know its history then please just look up ‘semiotics’ on wikipedia. Today it is the methodology for researching and analysing consumer behaviour and brand communications.
To help you market to your audiences you must understand the environment you are working in, the culture of your audience, and understand the impact that your brand can have on this.
Semiotics is a process, it can take months of repetitive advertising for your your message to be semiotic. It may be a repetitive tune, logo, slogan, pop up ad or alert that eventually you can recognise instantly without even getting the whole message (or sign/meaning).
Semiotics is nothing new, it was first recognised in 1632, but has been defined more appropriately over the years. I feel if we are doing our job, and truly understanding your audiences, then meaningful signs exist organically.
Businesses can struggle to do this; they have become numb to the signs because they see and hear their own messages every day – but your audiences.
We are semioticians… but not as you know it!