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Understanding the Science of Symbols

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

We’re all busy people. We’re also all inherently lazy. Our brains are hard-wired to search for shortcuts, which is of course fundamental to purchase decisions. Despite layers and layers of content, narratives and neat packaging, ultimately any brand’s function is to create a shining beacon at point of purchase - making that decision easier for our mostly un-engaged consumer.


One of the most powerful tools we have in marketing is brand semiotics. Semiotics are all the signs and symbols in a given culture that interact with the signs and symbols embedded in a brand whether communications, packaging or product and shape consumer understanding.


We can code these semiotics to create a clear picture of any brand’s market position, competitor threat and growth opportunity. By mapping residual, dominant and emerging codes we can spot saturation as well as market gaps; helping to carve out differentiation. By then applying this to consumer behaviour and decision making, only then can we develop effective branded shortcuts.


Semiotics should always be rooted in human experience. Take the recent colossal rise in the CBD Oil market. Lack of new understanding left a legacy of irresponsible recreation, but the market evolved as a ‘miracle medicinal’ by adopting health and wellbeing cues. Moving forward and to efficiently differentiate, brands should look to ‘self sophistication’ - emerging as a more positive positioning with a self-enhancing proposition, to adopt a more sophisticated narrative. These cues will help with the CBD diffusion of innovation towards an everyday, every-person product.


Whether your brand is in an emerging or saturated market, better understanding the semiotics at play can unlock dormant growth potential.