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What is Semiotics?
Semiotics is a research method for understanding how culture shapes people's values, beliefs perceptions and behaviours.
It does this by 'decoding' the implicit meanings of the symbols, messages and information that people are exposed to on a daily basis - what they read and see in the news and media, what they watch on TV, what they encounter from brands and other organisations and what they hear and share with family, friends and colleagues.
Semiotics draws on a range of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, narrative analysis and marketing, to help brands and organisations develop messages, brand identities, and narratives that communicate meaning and influence consumer behavior - what we call 'recoding'.
It's also used to look at the bigger picture context of social and cultural change that drives people to adopt new behaviours and beliefs, so is a perfect tool for understanding emerging trends.
Unlike other animals, humans are particularly susceptible to absorbing and internalising culturally shared information. We are culture sponges.
As historian Yuval Noah Harari explains in his book Sapiens, culture is humanity's killer adaptation that has enabled us to adapt to virtually any environment, change that environment to suit our needs and ultmatly take over the world (for better or worse).
One of the other side-effects of our culture-prone species is the evolution of the imagination - the ability to think of alternatives to the way things are, to conceive of better ways of doing things and shift values and beliefs. While tradition is humanity's anchor, people always have their eye out for things that will help them live fuller lives.
With semiotics we tap into this potential to help brands and organisations develop unique and compelling propositions and stories that make change possible.
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