Semiology in ISIB

On13th, November, the sophomore from Institute of Swiss International Branding(ISIB) started their first semiology course,the professor is Ilaria Niccoli from Italy.

At first, Ilaria introduced the concept of semiology and the importance to learn it. Semiology is the study of meaning. Semiology plays an important role in design and branding. 

Then, she demonstrated some practical examples and exchanged ideas with students to deepen the understanding of semiology.

In the class, exchanging ideas and sharing are the main parts. Professor Ilaria created a great atmosphere to let everystudent have the chance to show their ideas and understanding of semiology. 

After the the end of class, students had a preliminary knowledge of semiology. However, the concept of Semiology might still not familiar to students, so we sorted out some notes to help the students to understand.

What’s semiology?

Semiologyis is the carrier of meaning.

What’s semiology research?

Semiology is the study of meaning.

What is “signifier”and “signified”?

Saussure looked semiology as the combination of signifier and signified. Signifier is the representant, signified is the indicated object. The signifier is the pointing finger, the word, the sound-image. The signified is the concept, the meaning, the thing indicated by the signifier.

Like rose, the image of rose is signifier, the love is signified, add them two, then we get the symbol of love.

So, why ISIB students should study semiology? What Semiology can help to study branding? Look at this case below, then you will know.

In 1978, Swedish Absolute Vodka prepared to enter America, the TBWA advertising company realized that the advertisement can’t follow the trend, it must break the traditional model of wine advertising.

Actually, people always connect "Sweden" with Volvo cars and hot tubs. But what’s the symbolic characteristics of Absolute Vodka? The bottle neck of Absolute Vodka is short-shouldered, the glass bottle is completely transparent, so the bottle and the word "Absolute" become the exclusive symbol of Absolute Vodka.

"Absolute"in Swedish is a brand name, but "Absolute" in English is full, complete. The creative idea of print Ads focus on the bottle, and add“Absolute Vodka”to it.

When we analyze the past 20 years adversting of Absolute Vodka, we found that there are 3 stages of it: Iconic symbol → Signs→Symbolize. And we find its degree kept deepening constantly and information keep becoming more extensive. 

The first stage: Design of advertising

The image appearing advertising was the real bottle, and conveyed the information of brand, build the brand image by designing.

The second stage:Design of advertising

The advertising in this stage didn’t use the real glass bottle but other images. 

The shape and size of the bottle is preserved, the replacement of bottles - signs, fully reflects the excellent quality of brand, such as landmarks, sports and so on.

The image of Absolute Vodka impressed U.S. consumers with 4 years of excellent sales performance.

The third stage: Design of advertising

Absolute Vodka launched a series of advertising on the theme of cities, arts, shows, fashion, movies, literature, current events and more.

Absolute City Series turned from praising vodka to using unique perspective to observe things, breaked the simple description of the product, made it become a humanization design.

Besides, Absolute Vodka combined with arts, let artist describe the absolute vodka in their eyes, added new features to it - popularity. Absolute vodka became a more fashionable, successful, advanced and popular symbol.

So,building a brand means building a "Semiology System", a super brand is a great semiology system, brand starts from semiology or become a symbol, even both.Tha product contains the value of consumption, symbol explains and strengthen its value, improves consumption and gives product life.

Brand impacts the view and behavior of consumers by advertising, or we can say symbol. Even they know that symbol is meaningless and fake, consumers are willing to pay for it. From that we can conclude that it’s great important to study the semiology for those who learn branding.