The semiotics of branding

Image by Annie Spratt


Companies begin as a collection of ideas, and the sum of those ideas begin to form their brand. 

A brand is based on a design that uses a trademark image and colours that relate to a specific demographic. With the internet and proliferation of social media platforms, consumers today are bombarded with products and services from all around the world, meaning that brands are more reliant than ever on their message being assimilated and acted upon rapidly.

Language, signs and symbols are tools which brands can use to communicate their story, advertise their products and make a connection with their audience. It is vital therefore that brands consider how to create from a visually and culturally pleasing aspect, and consider decisions around how semiotics may have an impact when delivering the entire brand package. 

What are semiotics?

Semiotics are described as the scientific study of signs and symbols in a culture. Everyday life is ingrained with a multitude of signs and meanings, and these help to connect human beings with groups. The role of semiotics and language as a cultural system can help determine how humans naturally make connections, and derive meanings from their surroundings. The same thought can be implemented to explore how different demographics respond to certain brands. It is therefore important for brands to determine the precise way their products can stand as symbols that reflect and enhance their potential audiences’ daily lives.

Semiotics create deeper meanings

Adopting semiotics into your brand architecture builds layers of meaning through related symbols, colours and language.
Audiences identify with traits that brands communicate, and this can have an influence on whether they purchase products or services.

Once you know what you want to say about your brand, you can begin to gather visual cues to use in delivering that message through your visual identity. Creating a brand that can be deconstructed and decoded is key to symbolic brand communication, and will help to grow audience association and engagement in the long-term.

Create culture rather than respond to it

The best brands constantly evolve to influence or create culture, rather than just respond to it. Brands should conduct ongoing research to identify emergent cultural, social or technological trends and markets. With this knowledge they can learn to adapt and effectively communicate their brand message and marketing strategy across multi-channel platforms.


Logos are a great place to start incorporating semiotics. Thinking about the colour of your brand symbol is the first step in ensuring you are targeting the right audience. Blues are often associated with reliability and trustworthiness, meaning they make a popular choice for financial businesses. Greens have connotations of health, ecology and peace, and therefore resonate with environmental or humanitarian organisations.


Semiotics can also include the shapes you choose for your logo. Shapes communicate emotion, highlight areas of interest and organise information. Rectangles or squares are considered to be stable, familiar and represent solidarity, security and equality. This makes them a popular choice for financial institutions. Circles represent a whole, relate to celestial objects or represent experience or warmth.


Understanding through experience is a key aspect of semiotics. Whilst signs and symbols differ between cultures, insights into different societies can give a brand the opportunity to define a language that really connects with diverse audiences.


Semiotics can help brands in a number of ways; they make innovations that naturally fit into society, they uncover ideas and insights that do not necessarily arise from traditional market research, and they help brands create culture rather than just respond to it.

Audiences love to uncover ideas and find meaning, therefore incorporating semiotics into your brand development will ensure you are memorable, innovative, identifiable and trusted.


Ready to explore how Semiotics can help establish your brand? Talk to us!


Share this