Using semiotics in marketing
Dr Rachel Lawes kicks off AQR's 2020 webinar series by demystifying the world of semiotics through an informal chat with Grey's Matt Gladstone prior to her new book launch.
Applying semiotic thinking to qualitative and marketing challenges can feel a bit like trying to apply Kant's Transcendental Idealism to doing the weekly shop. It has a reputation for being some mysterious and complex process that should only be attempted by those with a PhD to their names, and not us mere mortals from the world of market research.
Ive long been a believer that this isnt the case and have seen semiotics add great value to projects, from the most upstream ideation through to executional refinement of packaging or advertising. Finding the right language and framework to talk about this, however, can still feel a challenge when selling semiotics into clients.
Book that delivers
Thats why I really looked forward to listening to Dr Rachel Lawes introduction to her new book, Using Semiotics in Marketing: How to Achieve Consumer Insight for Brand Growth. And Im pleased to say it really delivered in providing a good lay persons definition of what semiotics is all about in the context of research.
I was particularly interested to hear Rachels views on the types of projects she sees semiotics adding most value and the wide range of ways it can be applied.
The comparison between early stage exploratory semiotics and an ethnographic deep dive into the cultural forces at play in a category isnt something Id thought of before, but certainly something I will consider going forwards.
The client side perspective of Matt Gladstone, strategy partner at Greys was interesting to hear, too. Its reassuring to hear semiotic thinking has lived beyond the debrief for clients as varied as the United Nations and McVities biscuits.
My appetite is now whetted for the book where I hope to glean further practical and effective advice on utilising semiotics for our clients.
Davies + McKerr
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, April 2020
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