Semiotics and Branding

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This research paper is based on the topic of semiotics and its features and its connection with the branding. It is researched from the works of Peirce and Laura who have investigated how realistic and to what extent semiotics can be applied in the analysis of brands. The article has described how semiotics is used to create and maintain emotional concepts which are used to establish brand communities. The process of brand creation has been focussed, and the values that form the symbolic layer of the brand, as well as the unique artefact of the brand, are usually merged in order to create a sign or statement. The article has continued to discuss the nature of the brand communities, their fragility, the requirements for individuals and firms can participate in the brand communities through the use of such brands and how individuals tend to forget or leave the brand communities within a short time, after they change the brands.


Semiotics is defined as how meaning is generated and how it is communicated. The origin of this term is in the professional study of the way symbols and signs both visual and verbal have been used to create meaning. Semiotics has also been seen as a way of viewing the globe and being able to understand how the topography and cultural beliefs have an impact on the people without or knowledge. The human thoughts and actions are often controlled by the set of complex cultural beliefs and agreements that usually depend on to ability of the humans to understand and interpret the meanings with ease. Semiotics is essential and should be easy to instantly interpret them without too much struggle and interpreting them without even thinking hard about it example the reactions we get after seeing the street lights. These signs have been made by the cultural interventions over a period of time, and they are usually adopted since childhood and their reactions are usually unconscious because they are adopted without formal teaching and through culture their meaning is understood (Oswald 345). By interpreting the symbols and signs, it enables one to be able to traverse the topography of the surrounding and the society we live in and relate to people we live with.

When creating commercial products or services often referred to as brands, it is a concrete characteristic that involves marketing and advertising in .while studying branding, semiotics becomes a major interest given that the brand is usually a product that is often labelled with symbols, and the sign systems that they use are often not in sync with the usage of the product.  Branding has become so intertwined with semiotic that it looks like it’s the feature of semiotics. The function and maintenance these semiotics, changes the knowledge that has become a social sense that changes the product and makes its meaning singular. With reference to a semiotic framework, branding is therefore built to supplement the process of establishing an agreed meaning that is common for the products through the complex relationship between the makers of the brand and those that interpret the meaning to the target user group. This process of change is often referred to as grafting because it uses all the symbols that are required for the product and they are printed in such a way that they cannot be differentiated from each other and thus become a normal and regular reference of the brand to the product all the symbols used on the products. Even if work has been done with semiotic proper as a certain reviewer said that there is very minimal work that is done on giving meaning to the brands giving from a peircean point of view. (Peirce 240).

Defining Brands Semiotically

When turning a merchandise into a brand transformation, it turns into an indication that something supports something else other than just itself alone; which taps inside social meaning system which rule lifestyles, designs, values, beliefs, and others brands. Therefore, a brand is viewed as a symbol in the semiotic sense of that word while term branding is a process symbolising the sense of the product for users. Alternatively, branding process involves individuals  at discourse levels and cognition, both as individuals and social societies, or more particularly, target business groups or structures. It is therefore defined as the process through which a product becomes imbued with a specific group of meaning values which are, in pieces, manufactured into it by the brand maker and in large quantity, appointed to it as an impact of the uses and experience of its consumers, even though these often may have differences from the brand maker`s intentions. Therefore, brands are symbols impacting form a cognition and discourse system that is implanted in a large manner and unconscious negotiation of meanings within the brand makers, by whom can be reffered to as utterers,  and consumers, who can be called interpreters. This interplay can be a method that crystallizes during actual brand use  and is referred to as an inner branding process. The figure below summarizes the branding process in semiotics (Oswald 347).

The branding process is composed of a continuous negotiation process that happen between the actual use of the users of the brand (the interpreter) and the intended use of the brand maker (the utterers). The moment a product gets introduced to the market segment, in which it was intended for, the response it receives is based on the previous marketing done to the potential consumers and this usually forms the basis of the meaning of that brand. In the producer’s perspective, the brand is defined based on whether the product has potential market chance, whether the consumers are willing to adopt the products and whether the consumers will use the product for the intended purpose without modifications to the original one (Peirce 240). Finally, the producer needs to know whether the consumers also understand and accept the product as a brand.

A consumer group is usually defined as the group of people who use or advocate the use of a particular brand irrespective of whether they know one another or not. The members of that group are usually brought together by their common interest or for a common benefit which is the specific brand attracting them. As such, a consumer group under semiotics can be defined as a dynamic user group in a social system in which there are different types of people who are held together by the brand and can walk away from the brand in their own time and choice. It is therefore very difficult to identify a specific consumer group or market segment.

A brand can only be successfully identified with a certain group of consumers only after the consumers show traits or behaviours that prove that they have accepted the brand and they can identify themselves with the brand as well as recognize the values that the brand has. This can only be possible through creation of memory systems for the brand centre. The most important sign of any consumer group is usually the semiotic center which is the symbol that holds together all the components of the brand. The fundamental sign plays a big role too in the semiotic branding process as it acts as the link and hub that renders a sence of community in a sensible fashion. When a brand has gained acceptance in the community, a semiotic relationship is establised between the brand users and the brand makers. However, this bond is very fragile and is usually based on semiotic understanding which means that if the brand maker breaks the code that has been built, the relationship is interrupted and might face risk of breaking up (Oswald 349).  Acceptance of the brand also relates to the capability of this brand to attract or draw other consumer groups, which is known as inner branding. However, if the competitors tend to threaten the level of acceptance of the brand, or the brand makers fails to promote it effectively, the brand users who are its advocates may join together in order to protect it. This is because the consumers get so attached to the brand that they are inclined to protect it during difficult times.

According to the previous studies, a sequence of a whole commercial and advertisement is offered and is usually based on a common theme dubbed as I would rather die than switch trying to advertise a cigarette that was once displayed. Another example is the Coca-Cola Company where it is the brand name and also produces a soft drink with the same name. Brand is a shared memory that is like all the other symbols. With this reason, the consumer might react negatively if certain brands decide to change their logos. An example was when the Coca-Cola Company wanted to reintroduce a new design for their companies and this resulted to massive opposition from the consumers of the Coca-Cola products. This is usually because of the shared memories that it shares with the community and the brand and this shows a fundamental concrete sign that constitutes to a strong community thus cementing the ideas of peircean sense.  Through the process of building up ideas and values into a product, it becomes the ultimate objective of branding (Peirce 240).

Through the creation of a systematic meaning that relatable to the singular kinds of individuals customers is sally the central system in branding. This form of a social process where a brand should be achieved first and then a brand name created. The products can be differentiating from others. The legally accepted name for a certain brand is trademark. The trademarks are usually protected by their manufacturers and the organizations to avoid theft by other wannabe corporations. Some of the trademarks have gained world-wide recognition in terms of their disclosure. Such examples include; aspirin, escalator, cellophane who have also gained wide currency. The brand names of most of the products appear on the product containers, and on advertisements. A brand is usually much more than just a product and this is usually evident because of the rise of negative persons who are always in opposition of certain products for their own selfish gains. As much as negative publication might damage a company’s reputation, it sometimes adds to the benefit of these companies as they can share the thought s and come up with a superior product that meets all the preferences of the critics (Oswald 351).

According to Pierce, the simeotic way of branding suggests the following points:

  • There is always something that is usually integral in the brand that is way beyond its status or the power to gain attention for itself.
  • The view also suggests that the brand is usually able to generate a sense of togetherness within a community, if they share the same brand and the same memories of the brand.
  • It also states that branding is a complicated semiotic process that takes into account both the emotional and also the rational thought out process
  • Peircean view also dictates that it can generate a shared interpersonal memory that is system based on the sign value.

The Sense of Community

When a group of people within a community re able to interpret sign activities and are united around the same ideas of government that brings them to continued speeches that are aimed at disclosing the values that are portrayed by the group basic sign constitutes what sense of community is. The sense of community is personalized to making its own. This is known to explain that so much within that community can be shared example maybe cultural beliefs, set of values and interests or even taste and preferences. For the sense of community to be effective, there has to be a build-up strong foundation of communication within the groups of people. This sense of community symbolically forms the central verve for the community; many of the communities will work and operate round this because of the presence of a sense of understanding and maybe mutual respect. The sense of community is created by an essential symbol that is appealing to promoters and advocates (Peirce 240). A research conducted has found that the sense of community is based on two meanings;

  • The feeling of own around a particular community which is a symbolic sign that makes and bonds together the community and maintains the bond as one.
  • Also defined as a general feeling that can either be part of the community that they can build on or that which can leave the community and not cause any disruptions. Or any community to be able to use signs and symbols, the people around that community should possess the power of sense of community because of the fact that  these signs and symbols will be subjects of the community and will form the basis of communication within the community.

These symbols cannot be adopted if the community does not embrace the value of being together as a community. Sense of community was established to help understand how a brand which is a fundamental sign of something can bring out meaning that is based on the cultural symbolism that connects products in the human daily life. The early years before 1970, the logos on clothes and other garments were secretly hidden inside collars or the pockets of the garments but in recent years this symbols and logos are the first thing you see when purchasing a product and these images evokes, images of fame, grace and thus comes with nobility. These symbols have become relatable in the recent years and people are always looking forward to show these symbols as they give the person a sense of class which the society will base according to the price they consitutte. The recent genration cll this types of garments that have these symbols significant as designer clothes and when one wears a designer clothe they are said to be of a high class (Peirce 240). This kind of brand is a sense of community set up that they society shares amognst them. These brands make them loyal to such logos where everybody wants to wear them.

These types of logos have a psychological power where many people especially those who own organizations who use these logos to exhibit and market their brands.  These logos are also used by non-commercial organizations for their advertisements and marketing. The most known and commonly used symbol is the peace sign which is mostly engrafted on chains and neck pieces, and many organizations have adopted the sign to show their support for peace around the globe. This logo has existed on the face of the earth for a long time. It was first used when a philosopher led a campaign that was duped against nuclear weapons that were to be used for war, in the early years of 1950. These logo spread across the globe and was later adopted by a film producer who depicted the sign in his film and it has now become part of the society where from the youngest the eldest know its meaning and use it often. The usage of these logos is a fundamental sign of the sense of community (Oswald 355-357).

Branding and Shared Memory

Branding has been largely described as an emotional construction, but its origin might beg to differ which is based on the meaning of the word. Branding has been licked to social memory which the researcher has urged it to be an unconscious process. Consequently the researcher does not conform to the fact that these brands come as a result of blank exposure to a certain brand in form of advertising. Branding is a socio-cognitive symbolic process that brings out a lucid dialogue which is based on the sense of the community. In reference to branding, for it to become a norm, it must involve the thought the products and its suggestions to the signs and the already existing social signs are the same. The final highlight of the success of the brand is the capability of it being able to capture the suggestions and so raising emotions that can interpret and create a notion for common sense which helps in acquiring a community brand for them to be able to create a conscious decision about the brand.  

The brand should be adequate in that it should be used as understanding notions of how ideas can be built. In a research conducted by some philosophers, they came up with the notion that when we share memories, deeper ideas are usually generated and by branding, it becomes difficult to bring them to the surface and thus becomes really difficult in trying to make them known by the world. This often inhibits the ideas of making branding difficult to exercise and also create a system shared memory.  When ideas are communicated within a societal setup, they should not be let to sink under; they must be always available for reference. The brand promoters should always be aware of these ideas and should always be to their defence.  Brands cannot be easily sunk to extinct as compared to advertisements and commercials as they are an idea that always lurks in the head and they are a setup symbol that cannot be easily sunk.  If a certain brand of product is efficient and relates to all the preferences that a customer wants, the community always remembers by their experiences while using it (Peirce 240).

Branding has recently become a cultural sight, where the community will relate to their experiences and mostly they will share these memories.  Branding does not often rely on products but also large corporations such as car manufactures as ford and IBM just to state a few.

 In correspondent with the branding events, the names have often repeated themselves all along from the traditional society to the modern. The idea in creating such an event is to get the brands to interrelate with their cultural understanding and views and also the sights. And also trying to make them fuzzy as a symbol that differs from other culturally interwoven signs of the (Oswald 345)


This article has tried to present a semiotic outline for knowing the key power to brand ideas in the current authority in this paper survey. The important issue is that the brands creates information or discourse systems including utterers(brand makers) and interpreters (brand users) within a system of meaningful negotiations and mediation which alternatively build a sense of society or brand ownership through the producers themselves. Alternatively, this whole discourse product is made  through the easy method of semiotic form of grafting  symbolising into goods, hence creating the two uncomparable (Peirce 240). Therefore, the product becomes an important symbol, meaning center of a  society of  users that become its lawyers. This full procedure has actually been refered to as an inner branding process in here since it does not leave outside traces which can be checked and studied (such as clues in a theft scene). 

Consequently, this leaves cognitive marks which may be built as legisins- signs which have social value. This is mainly because it is an ’’inside procedure’’ which allows brand users to be advocates for a brand.  The  brand later becomes  almost underaccumalate from the brand maker and hence grows a ’’life of  it`s own,” according to the view by the consumers who react less positive to converts in the product (for instance the Coca-Cola bottle design for less years in the past). The product however attracts attentions of the advocates through passing information of values same with values already present within the brand users. The product however generates a sense of community within humanbeings-a sense of abstract linkage  with other users of that product  in relation to these match (Oswald 360; Peirce 240). Therefore, it is the similarity of values which leads to creation and maintainance of brand and brand users in sense of community. In addition, there would be nothing to share and divide without the help of this main sense of community.


Works Cited

Laura Oswald. Developing Brand Literacy among Affluent Chinese Consumers; A Semiotic Perspective, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Wright Street, Urbana, IL 61801, 2009:342-365.  Print.

Peirce Charles. Semiotics and Significs; The Correspondence between C. S. Peirce and V. Welby, Hardwich, C. (ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1977. Print.

June 09, 2022
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