Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Semiotics - can it make you more popular?

Did you know that on average shoppers take just five seconds to locate and select a given product, generally at a distance of from three-to-six feet? And that more than 60% of the shopping decision is made in the store? (Source: SDMIS Study, OgilvyAction)

This article (shorted) from Branding Strategy Insider about semiotics will help us understand a little more about how to package a product to make it popular in the shelf beauty contest:  

Visibility is measured by contrast and the physiological driver that creates contrast is color. Color is one of the brain’s three visual pathways and, since we process every object within view simultaneously, color is the mechanism that places emphasis on certain areas. In addition to enhancing on-shelf visibility, the appropriate use of color can increase brand recognition by some 80%, while also serving as an important brand identifier.

Memorable shapes also initiate a cognitive process of evaluation and brand preference. Shapes often determine the first impression of a product while metaphorically communicating key benefits and advantages.  In combination, color and shape combinations can signal quality, while enhancing perception.  For instance, symmetrical shapes pair well with passive colors… triangular and diamond shapes with active colors. Color /shape combinations can also communicate brand personality, so like color, the use of shape in brand identity and design plays a role well beyond on-shelf visibility.

Symbols are a nearly instantaneous means of communicating meaning – think about the Nike® swoosh, the CBS® eye, or the Starbucks® siren. Associations derived from symbols become imprinted in consumers’ minds through repeated exposure, and shoppers intuitively gravitate to familiar symbols to help them navigate the shelf.

Research has shown that a package cluttered with claims fights for attention and creates shopper conflict. The best approach is to focus on a single competitive point of difference that distinguishes a brand from its’ competition. As previously discussed, colors, shapes and symbols all enhance on-shelf visibility, illicit an emotional reaction, and aid in the final purchasing decision. So it stands to reason, that the more words one adds to the design, the less the opportunity to use color, shapes and symbols effectively."

The article and tons of others around Internet tell us THAT semiotics matte, but doesn´t say much about HOW you are supposed to design the products. What does the colours and shapes mean? Which symbol to use for which message? What will changing the type from blue to red mean in terms of targeting and sales? Will Gen Y like green better? Should you use big shapes for beer and small for shirts? I don´t know. I would assume the cultural connotation always changes, and you need to do new research constantly to figure out how a specific market interpret a shape or a symbol in the time they live in. Influenced by other logos, events and phenomenon we will see "orange" differently.

I keep looking for general rules, perhaps meanings inbuilt in our DNA?. If you have an answer, please let me know!

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