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The Superpowers of Semiotics

hanser_semiotics [1]What makes smileys sympathetic, stars superior and surfaces seductive? Why we think, or even enjoy the feeling of romance while we see the Eiffel Tower? And of bargains when we notice a product tagged with a yellow-red printed price-label? And why are we usually emotionally opinionated about the company’s logo design, but far less engaged while reading the company’s balance sheet?

On 29th of June, in our very last session of the IE Marketing Club before summer break, Christoph Hanser, an MBA candidate and graduate in graphic design, was providing us a quick introduction into the world of visual communication and the science of semiotics. After a short introduction, the story starts with the cultural shift from the written word to an abundant use of nowadays digital imagery. In this interactive session we were discovering about the relation between image, emotion and imagination, and getting insight in decoding the cause and action by analyzing multiple visuals.

Although we live in an age of ever-increasing images, the cognitive processes behind our image-driven culture are commonly unknown.

As our presenter was highlighting, semiotics, the science on meaning of symbols, however provides surprising insight into the hidden aspects of visual communication and the suggestive power of those non-verbal, implicit codes. This suggestive power derives from the simplification and emotional connection, when we subconsciously process images and visuals, and the relative effort we have to consider processing more logical communication codes, like written words or numbers. Therefore, understanding non-verbal communication and semiotics became an important aspect for contemporary marketing. Nevertheless, we need to ask ourselves if we use those ‘superpowers’ wisely and do not walk down the slippery slope of suggestive manipulation, that could lead to misleading promises and consumer dissatisfaction in the long run.

We hope that everyone enjoyed our last Club session and looking forward to welcome you after some refreshing summer break.