Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Semiotics task - comparing two images

Through a semiotic analysis of brands and advertising campaigns, we can see how images are manipulated to convey complex meaning, which requires cognitive thinking to be able to read the meaning.
Fig i - Apple logos.

Take the Apple logo for instance; the company name was already Apple, so it made sense to use an apple as the symbol for the main form of branding. It started as a complex logo, many people regard this to be Sir Isaac Newton sat under a tree where he supposedly began his discovery of gravity, another explanation is that is actually pays homage to Alan Turning who committed suicide by eating an apple laced with cyanide. This explanation makes more sense as Turning is considered as one of the fathers of the computer.
The apple idea continued and Regis McKenna simply used an apple symbol in rainbow co1ours with a "bite mark', the mark was used to signify the concept of seduction of customers, derived from the Adam and Eve story, denoting how Eve was tempted by a snake to eat the forbidden fruit - an apple. The meaning behind this was rumoured to signify Turning being homosexual and reflecting the “Gay Pride" rainbow flag. These days the bite mark is also recognised as a "byte mark” referring to computers.
There was a monochrome theme that then replaced the rainbow colour scheme.
The silvery chrome finish in the new Apple logo is consistent with the design scheme of the computers and is a clear signifier that the company wishes to be seen as a modern, sleek brand.
Fig ii - I Love New York logo - Milton Glaser 1977.

Compare this to the “I Love NY” logo, designed by Milton Glaser in 1977. It's a relatively simple logo but has such impact around the world and many people buy into this brand as they want to be associated with the city – it connotes a fresh, young, fashionable place that appeals greatly to the younger generations today and has become a large part of American pop culture creating more than a brand and becoming an icon for the city. Although it is a brand used to promote New York City, it is shown as a symbolic logo rather than an indexical one. The red heart denotes love and over time it has become a signifier of representing the word love rather than heart, and the red predominantly signifies the passion felt for the city and also blood running through the heart of the people who love the city.
Every American state has their own state code and obviously New York's is NY, the state has been shortened to its state code to carry on the theme of shortening words - like love. It also means that there are four elements to work with which can be contained in an invisible square which is considered to symbolise the state line and how people love that state, that area. It also works purely on the fact that the red heart is located in the top right corner, which reflects the location of New York City itself.

Both examples have applied a semiotic approach well and when looked at more closely, it is clear the intentions behind each of the designs.

Semiotics seminar

  • The social 'science' of understanding meaning. (Meaning constructed through a shared knowledge / language / cultural codes.
  • 'Codes' - found in all forms of cultural practice and RELY on shared knowledge - i.e. red can signify love a rose - romance / love etc.
  • Ferdinand de Saussure's theory - 1916 - 'Structuralism'.
    Bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary (random) - people naturally assign meaning.
  • Charles Sanders Peirce's theory:

  • 3 catergories of signs that Peirce identifies:
    - ICON - directly references objects (photos - iconic signs)
    - INDEX - (an inferred) direct link between sign and object . (INDEXICALLY) use a sign but no direct link.
    - SYMBOL - no logical link between sign and object (pure learned meaning).
  • Roland Barthes's theory: