How do we know that it’s McDonalds, it’s not because of their delicious cheeseburgers or due to 34000 stores worldwide but something more complex, it’s the semiotics at play. What is Semiotics, well it’s the study of signs and sign-using behaviour defined by Ferdinand de Saussure, as the study of “the life of signs within society, a sign-system” while Peirce defined a sign as “something which stands to somebody for something, and can never have a definite meaning, for the meaning must be continuously qualified”.
The link below will explain more about semiotics
Saussure made distinctions between the two inseparable components of a sign, the signifier (a set of speech sounds or marks on a page) and the signified (concept or idea behind the sign). His theories are considered fundamental to structuralism especially structural linguistics. With applications in the fields of aesthetics, anthropology, psychoanalysis, communications, and semantics and used by most influential of these thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Any image can be analysed in reference to the connotation the imagined meaning created by the viewer and the denotations what is actually present, shown below is my deconstruction of a controversial ad.
Here is a visual interpretation of my ideas:
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For all you a visual learner here is what I mean by my connotations.
The media knows the power of semiotics and in my area of study, advertising this is clear as it is used to develop a product line design language, culturally coherent/incoherent product concepts, deconstruct brand archetypes to inform positioning within the message and provide a qualitative dimension to market opportunity assessment.
Our perception and reading of a sign or image is affected by many things including our ideological position (our culture, beliefs, values, interests) thus the same message can be read in many different ways. For example the colour white in western cultures symbolizes purity and is worn by the brides at weddings but in the Indian colour white is worn by the mother to mourn her daughter’s death. Sometimes a certain view can be influenced or manipulated by the media due to expressing a biased view of a topic, the source of discussion in my next blog, so tune in, but for now, that’s all folks.