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SEMIOTIC
S
OF BRAN
D
BUILDING
S U D I O S U D A R S A N
L E V E L T H R E E B R A N D C O N S U L T A N T S
A VISUAL PRESENTATION: CASE OF THE MUTHOOT BRAND
Copyright © 1988-2014, IGI Global - All Rights Reserved. No part of this presentation may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, IGI Global, 701 East Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA 17033 USA
Originally written as chapter titled Semiotics of Brand Building: Case of the Muthoot Group for Advances in Marketing,
Customer Relationship Management, and e-Services (AMCRMES) book series published by IGI Global Hershey, PA.
FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY
THE PERENNIAL QUESTION OF
PHILOSOPHY ‘WHY STUDY SIGNS?’ IS
ANSWERED BY THE SCIENCE OF SEMIOTICS.
FROM AN ANIMAL’S CRY TO BRAND LOGOS
TO SYMBOLISM AND SYMBOLIC MEANING
FALL WITHIN THE SPHERE OF SEMIOTICS.
TATTOOS ARE NOT MERE ORNAMENTAL.
✦
TATTOOS OF BRAND LOGOS ARE MORE THAN JUST STAMPS OF ALLEGIANCE.
✦
THEY ARE HERALDIC EMBLEMS OF
CUSTOMER NOBILITY, SIGNALING
THEIR ZEALOTRY TO THE TRIBE.
✦
✦
✦
✦
✦
THE CONTRIBUTION OF
BRAND MEANINGS AND
PERCEPTIONS TO PROFITABILITY
✦ ✦
✦
TESTIFIES TO THE POWER OF SYMBOLIC
✦
✦
REPRESENTATION TO
✦
CAPTURE THE HEARTS AND
M E R C E D E S - B E N Z
D I E S E L
A P P L E
✦
L E X U S
✦
A M E R I C A N E X P
G O O G L E
✦
M A R L B O R O
✦
C O C A - C O
✦
MINDS OF CONSUMERS BY SIGNS.
✦
✦
SEMIOTICS IS THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY
OF PRODUCTION AND USE OF SIGNS.
SYMBOLIC BEHAVIOR CAN BE
OBSERVED IN CULTURAL
PHENOMENA WITHIN SYSTEMS OF
SIGNIFICATION THE WORLD OVER.
✦
BRANDING IS ONE OF THE CRITICAL SITES ON THE
BATTLEFIELD OF THE PRODUCTION OF MEANING.
SINCE A BRAND IS A SYSTEM OF SENSORY SIGNS THAT INCITES
CONSUMERS IN A SYMBOLIC PROCESS, WHICH THEN CONTRIBUTES TO
TANGIBLE VALUE, SEMIOTICS IS THE KEYSTONE OF BRAND BUILDING.
THROUGH THE ACTION OF SIGNS, BRANDS ACCOMPLISH A PERCEPTUAL PRESENCE IN
CONSUMERS; ENVISAGED AS A MENTAL REPRESENTATION AND EMOTIONAL CONNECTION.
BRANDS BECOME SYMBOL TRIGGER
IN RECONSTRUCTIVE MEMORY IN
THE CONSUMERS’ BRAIN.
LET’S NOW HURL INTO THE POST-GRADUATE DEPARTMENT
OF SYMBOLOGY TO UNDERSTAND HOW SEMIOTICS WORKS.
This section outlines the development of
sign study from its classical precursors
to contemporary post-structuralism so
that marketers, brand owners and
brand custodians can better understand
the systems of signification.
Human beings are peculiar species; they are
driven by a keen desire to make meanings
throughout their life on earth. As homo
significans, meaning-makers, a human is a
creature who gives sense to things.
The most distinctive trait of humans is
that only they, throughout terrestrial
life, have two separate although, of
course, throughly commingled,
repertoires of signs at their disposal:
the non-verbal— demonstrably derived
from their primate ancestry—and a
uniquely human verbal overlay. The
definition advanced here presupposes
a message producer (source), and a
message recover (destination).
I see a
silhouette on the
chest X-ray of
patient.
Cancer?
How important are sign systems?
✦
On the continuum from cave
paintings to social media updates,
the need to communicate has
created an infinite sensory
palette of visual and verbal
expression, unfolding the
mysterious and
elusive power
of symbols.
Ancient Vedic traditions used visual tools to
serve as centering devices and/or as symbolic
compositions of energy patterns, which were
then adopted for worship or meditation.
Early precursors of semioticians in the Western
World include Plato (428-348 BCE) whose
‘Cratylus’ ponders the origin of language; Aristotle
(384-322 BCE) considers nouns in ‘Poetics and
On Interpretation’. The word ‘semiotics’ comes
from a Greek root, seme, as in semeiotikos, an
interpreter of signs. Semiotics is the analyses of
signs or the study of functioning sign systems.
The quintessential sign was the medical symptom for the Stoics.
It’s a sign!
Fever!
Medical symptom!
Leading European proto-semiotician,
John Locke (1632-1704) examined
the signifying process as a basis for
logic in his seminal essay ‘Concerning
Human Understanding’ (1690).
Ʃƞμιωτικῄ And, perhaps, if they were distinctly
weighed, and duly considered, they
would afford us another sort of Logick
and Critick, than what we have been
hitherto acquainted with.
The Third Branch may be called
Ʃƞμιωτικῄ. or the Doctrine of Signs;
the most usual whereof being Words,
it is aptly enough termed also Logick;
the business whereof, is to consider the
Nature of Signs, the Mind makes use
of for the understanding of Things, or
conveying its Knowledge to others.
John Locke,
“Of the Division of the Sciences
{beyond the Speculative and the
Practical},” 1690
Ludwig von Bertalanffy draws a thin line
between realistic conceptualization (symbol
making) and utter derangement
(schizophrenia at worst) to state that both
depend upon the fragile boundary of an
adequately true cultural framework or what
consensus accepts as the truth of that
framework at a certain moment in history.
The two primary traditions in
contemporary semiotics in the 20th
century stem from the Swiss linguist
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and
the American philosopher Charles Sanders
Pierce (1839-1914). Semiotics involves the
study not only of what we refer to as
‘signs’ in everyday speech, but of anything
which ‘stands for’ something else.
Often hailed as the founder of semiotics,
Ferdinand de Saussure was born into an
academic family in1857 in Geneva,
Switzerland. At age 19, he went to the
University of Leipzig to study languages;
later he published ‘Primitive System of
Vowels in Indo-European Languages’.
Following completion of his research
thesis, Saussure left for the École
Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris,
France where he taught Sanskrit and
became more interested in languages of
history than general linguistics.
Saussure defined linguistic sign as a two-
sided entity, a dyad, consisting of signifier
and signified. The signifier was the
material marker and the signified was the
mental concept the signifier enkindled.
Carrot
SignifierSignified
According to Saussure, linguistic sign was not a
link between thing and name, but a
psychological recognition between sound
pattern (signifier) and a concept (signified).
Phono centricity was the hearer’s
psychological impression of a sound, as given by
the evidence of senses. This sound pattern or
the material element was a representation of
sensory impressions, and thus be distinguished
from the other element, a more abstract
concept, associated with it in a linguistic sign.
Bait
F TIG
The signifiers /G/I/F/T/ engenders is a mental concept
of a present; a thing given willingly without payment.
But, for Germans ‘gift’ means ‘poison.’
So agreed rules govern the
conventional relationship of the
signifier and the signified. Language
is not complete in any speaker; it
exists only within a collectivity.
The fact that language is a system
(langue), it can be thought of a
communal cupboard, housing all the
possible different signs which might
be pulled out and utilized in the
construction of an instance of
parole, individuals acts of speech.
Consequently, language is entirely a
socio-cultural phenomenon.
Like language, symbols also
connote disparate set of meanings
in different cultural groups.
Americans who live in the
New England area give pine as
response when asked for an
example of a tree; those in
Florida mention palm trees.
Because culture is built on natural language, culture
may be classified in its conceptualization of the sign.
Across the Atlantic, around the same time
as Saussure, pragmatist philosopher and
logician Charles Sanders Pierce
(1839-1914) formulated his triadic model
of the sign, drawing upon the cognitive-
philosophical approach. Pierce’s semiotic
framework focuses on the analyses of
meaning interpretation.
✦
Sign/Representamen
Interpretant
Object
The form which the sign
takes (Sign Vehicle)
The sense aspect of the
sign (Referent)
Beyond the sign to which it
refers (Referent)
Sign/Representamen
Interpretant
Object
The realm of firstness is
understood by feeling. Eg.
Feeling evoked by music.
The realm of secondness is
brute facts which arise to
form linkages. Eg.
Strumming of guitar
The realm of thirdness is
the mental element. Eg.
Music triggered thoughts of
boyfriend before his death.
✦
✦
✦
At the level of sign/representmen (firstness)
1. Qualisign
2. Sinsign
3. Legisign
SIGN
Qualisign	 
Representamen made up of a quality
(for e.g. color red)
Sinsign	 
Representamen made up of a
existing physical reality
(for e.g. road sign)
Legisign	 
Representamen made up of a law
(for e.g. referee sign)
At the level of object (secondness)
1. Icon
2. Symbol
3. Index
Object
Icon	 
Sign relates to its object in some
resemblance with it
(for e.g. photograph)
Symbol	 
Sign relates to its object by means
of convention
(for e.g. flag)
Index	 
Sign relates to its object in terms of
causation
(for e.g. Statue of Liberty for
freedom)
At the level of interpretant (thirdness)
1. Rheme
2. Dicent
3. Argument
Interpretant
Rheme	 
Sign is represented for the
Interpretant as a possibility
(for e.g. mental concept)
Dicent	 
The sign is represented for the
Interpretant as a fact
(for e.g. descriptive statement)
Argument	 
Sign is represented for the
Interpretant as a reason
(for e.g. proposition)
Icon
The number two
Index Symbol
Longhorn cattle Heavy rock music
Astronaut Moon Science & Technology
In any given transaction, a source is necessarily
coupled by means of a channel to a destination;
the variety of such passageways is
constrained by the specific sensorium of each.
CODED ICONIC
MESSAGE
NON-CODED
LINGUISTIC MESSAGE
The myths which suffuse humans’ lives
are insidious because, they seem natural.
They call out for detailed analyses which
semiosis can deliver. Conversely, they can
abundantly assist brand owners and
custodians to create myth surrounding the
brands in the minds of their consumers.
It’s a
great logo The lion signifies
the power of
Hollywood
For Claude Levi-Strauss, an
anthropological phenomena such as
kinship systems can be studied as
meaningful in their structural relations.
The prohibitions on marriage which
exist - the most obvious taboo on
incest - are not the result of simple
biological predeterminations. They
represent a signifying cultural system.
Claude Levi-Strauss argues who
married whom is bound by
meaningful system of exchange,
possibility and difference which
is not dissimilar to the rules
enshrined in language.
How aboutyour cousin?
Don’t marry
your sister!
Semiotic square is the elementary structure
of signification, marking off the oppositional
logic that is at the heart of both narrative
progression and semantic, thematic, or
symbolic content. It can prove to be an
influential tool not only in narrative theory but
also in the ideological positioning of brands.
Contrary
Corollary
Contradictory
I abandon traditional anthropology and
traditional linguistics that consider
merely terms. I apply Straussian
semiological notion of structuralism so
that brand owners and custodians can
begin to think of brands as frames of
references, relations between the
terms in the reference points.
I amalgamate Saussurean linguistics,
Peircean semiotic triad, Freudian
unconscious, and Straussian
structuralism to advance semiotics in
the context of brand building. I
present the application using the
Muthoot Group in the third section
of this slide deck presentation.
✦
How can semiotics
help in brand building?
The final section historically
plots the brand-building
voyage of the Muthoot Group,
applying semiotic concepts and
methods to establish a model
of brand to extend the
scientific understanding of
brand differentiation and
consumer perceptions.
A CASE IN SEMIOSIS OF BRAND BUILDING
✦
In 1887 during the days of
British-colonized India,
Muthoot established a
business supplying rations to
large British-run plantations.
Trained elephants hauled logs.
Though Muthoot’s line of business
evolved in the 128 years, the brand
possessed supreme integrity that
corroborated its fidelity in advancing
values espoused by sociocultural,
symbolic, and ideological aspects.
1887
1934
1971
2000s
The Muthoot leadership champions the core values of trust through four generations.
Carved out of the semiosic ubiquity, semiotics explicates how Muthoot’s twin-elephant logo
stands as a visual shortcut for a specific referent (financial product or service) that culminates
as cardinal instruments of interpersonal and/or group persuasion (trust, security).
CONNOTATION
DENOTATION
Connotation is what is implied;
connotative meaning is more
variable, figurative, and subjective.
Denotation is a definitional,
literal meaning (objective).
PRODUCT
EXPERIENCE
DENOTATION
Loan/repayment
Operationalizing gold
Perception of ubiquity
Consistent service
PRODUCT
Muthoot rapidly evolved from a
mere adjunct to monetary and credit
policies to an active participant in
the mainstream financial sector in
the new millennium. Launching from
the gold lending platform, Muthoot
expanded into other financial
segments ranging from money and
foreign exchange to shares and
commodity trading.
Recognizing that consumers prefer
a brick-and-mortar institution with
a wide national presence, Muthoot
rapidly increased its locations in
the length and breadth of India,
thereby successfully reaching rural
populations that do not have banks
to serve their financial needs.
TOTAL NUMBER OF MUTHOOT BRANCHES IN INDIA
ANNUAL INCREASE OF BRANCHES
DENOTATION
EXPERIENCE
Technology (mobile app, ATM)
Simplicity (speed of transaction)
Security (strong room)
Considering the immense potential of
the gold loan business and its ability to
serve the unbanked population of the
country, Muthoot has transformed the
perception of gold loan from a
distressed product to a lifestyle product.
Muthoot’s IT governance mechanism
encourages a set of behavior that goes
with its vision, mission, and values. It has
stayed ahead of the curve in terms of
automation and digital enablement.
Customers with Demat account are offered
online trading in equity shares and
derivatives with leading brokerage firms.
Muthoot fashioned itself as a bank.
The integrity of a bank is its safety.
Muthoot provided a secure
environment to safeguard the gold
deposited by building armored vaults
and strong rooms in every location it
served to claim protection from thefts,
fire, natural disasters, unauthorized
use, and other threats. Every branch
is installed with CCTV and a
surveillance system.
CONNOTATION
EXPERIENCE
Generations of trust
Entrepreneurial growth
Sponsoring IPL/ISL
CSR activities
Today, Muthoot for societal good addresses financial inclusion, medical
assistance to the lesser privileged, education for poor, and marriage
assistance among others to transform rural and semi-urban
communities of India in its triumphant march of the CSR movement.
Muthoot and Delhi
Daredevils joined
hands together to bat
for the cause of
education of the
lesser privileged
children in India.
Today, Muthoot for societal
good addresses financial
inclusion, medical assistance
to the lesser privileged,
education for poor, and
marriage assistance among
others to transform rural and
semi-urban communities of
India in its triumphant march
of the CSR movement.
For Muthoot’s efforts to
integrate India’s
marginalized into the
mainstream and pro bono
activities aimed at causes
of benefitting the rural
poor, women, and
children, Muthoot was
presented with the Golden
Peacock award, regarded
as a benchmark for
corporate excellence.
PRODUCT
CONNOTATION
Realization of personal goals
Customer stories
Jaya Gajawat ran a small boutique in Jaipur,
RJ for many years. Her fashion and design
sense was well appreciated by her clientele;
with her own customers’ encouragement,
Jaya dreamed of turning her shop into a big
store. She applied for a loan with Muthoot
to fund her expansion plans. In five minutes
she got the loan she need and today she’s
the owner of a large boutique.
In 2015 Muthoot published “One Hundred Tales
of Hope,” entrepreneurial stories of men and
women who realized their long-standing
dreams. 100 stories. 100 hopes. All fulfilled.
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SK
KOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH
Muthoot was conferred the Skoch
Financial Inclusion Award 2013
in resignation of the major
initiatives in the area of ‘access
to banking and financial services’
to the masses who has been
excluded from the country’s
banking network for decades.
CONNOTATION
DENOTATION
PRODUCT
EXPERIENCE
Realization of personal goals
Customer stories
Generations of trust
Entrepreneurial growth
Sponsoring IPL/ISL
CSR activities
Technology (mobile app, ATM)
Simplicity
Friendly and consistent service
Security
Loan/repayment
Operationalizing gold
Perception of ubiquity
Speed of transaction
Though both denotation
and connotation can both
be used to describe
imagery of form or
function of a brand, they
have different contexts
and orders of signification
represented in a semiotic
2x2 framework.
EMOTIONAL
SOCIAL
CULTURAL
FUCTIONAL
To create memorable stories in the
collective nation’s culture, the
augmented definition of brand
embeds the the extremely successful
microanalysis of individual
consumption of brand into a new
analysis of cultural interaction.
IS THIS THE WAY CONSUMERS SEE YOUR BRAND?
✦
✦✦✦
✦
✦✦✦
✦
✦✦✦
SEMIOTICS CAN AMPLY HELP.
Sudio
David
Pearl
Illustrations: Pearl Salhotra
Proofreader: David Upright
Production: Dharmesh Samraj
ss@iSudio.com
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SEMIOTICS OF BRAND BUILDING

  • 1. SEMIOTIC S OF BRAN D BUILDING S U D I O S U D A R S A N
  • 2. L E V E L T H R E E B R A N D C O N S U L T A N T S A VISUAL PRESENTATION: CASE OF THE MUTHOOT BRAND Copyright © 1988-2014, IGI Global - All Rights Reserved. No part of this presentation may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, IGI Global, 701 East Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA 17033 USA Originally written as chapter titled Semiotics of Brand Building: Case of the Muthoot Group for Advances in Marketing, Customer Relationship Management, and e-Services (AMCRMES) book series published by IGI Global Hershey, PA. FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY
  • 3. THE PERENNIAL QUESTION OF PHILOSOPHY ‘WHY STUDY SIGNS?’ IS ANSWERED BY THE SCIENCE OF SEMIOTICS. FROM AN ANIMAL’S CRY TO BRAND LOGOS TO SYMBOLISM AND SYMBOLIC MEANING FALL WITHIN THE SPHERE OF SEMIOTICS.
  • 4. TATTOOS ARE NOT MERE ORNAMENTAL.
  • 5. ✦ TATTOOS OF BRAND LOGOS ARE MORE THAN JUST STAMPS OF ALLEGIANCE.
  • 6. ✦ THEY ARE HERALDIC EMBLEMS OF CUSTOMER NOBILITY, SIGNALING THEIR ZEALOTRY TO THE TRIBE.
  • 7. ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ THE CONTRIBUTION OF BRAND MEANINGS AND PERCEPTIONS TO PROFITABILITY ✦ ✦ ✦ TESTIFIES TO THE POWER OF SYMBOLIC ✦ ✦ REPRESENTATION TO ✦ CAPTURE THE HEARTS AND M E R C E D E S - B E N Z D I E S E L A P P L E ✦ L E X U S ✦ A M E R I C A N E X P G O O G L E ✦ M A R L B O R O ✦ C O C A - C O ✦ MINDS OF CONSUMERS BY SIGNS.
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10. ✦ SEMIOTICS IS THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF PRODUCTION AND USE OF SIGNS.
  • 11. SYMBOLIC BEHAVIOR CAN BE OBSERVED IN CULTURAL PHENOMENA WITHIN SYSTEMS OF SIGNIFICATION THE WORLD OVER.
  • 12. ✦ BRANDING IS ONE OF THE CRITICAL SITES ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE PRODUCTION OF MEANING.
  • 13. SINCE A BRAND IS A SYSTEM OF SENSORY SIGNS THAT INCITES CONSUMERS IN A SYMBOLIC PROCESS, WHICH THEN CONTRIBUTES TO TANGIBLE VALUE, SEMIOTICS IS THE KEYSTONE OF BRAND BUILDING.
  • 14. THROUGH THE ACTION OF SIGNS, BRANDS ACCOMPLISH A PERCEPTUAL PRESENCE IN CONSUMERS; ENVISAGED AS A MENTAL REPRESENTATION AND EMOTIONAL CONNECTION.
  • 15. BRANDS BECOME SYMBOL TRIGGER IN RECONSTRUCTIVE MEMORY IN THE CONSUMERS’ BRAIN.
  • 16. LET’S NOW HURL INTO THE POST-GRADUATE DEPARTMENT OF SYMBOLOGY TO UNDERSTAND HOW SEMIOTICS WORKS.
  • 17. This section outlines the development of sign study from its classical precursors to contemporary post-structuralism so that marketers, brand owners and brand custodians can better understand the systems of signification.
  • 18. Human beings are peculiar species; they are driven by a keen desire to make meanings throughout their life on earth. As homo significans, meaning-makers, a human is a creature who gives sense to things.
  • 19. The most distinctive trait of humans is that only they, throughout terrestrial life, have two separate although, of course, throughly commingled, repertoires of signs at their disposal: the non-verbal— demonstrably derived from their primate ancestry—and a uniquely human verbal overlay. The definition advanced here presupposes a message producer (source), and a message recover (destination). I see a silhouette on the chest X-ray of patient. Cancer?
  • 20. How important are sign systems? ✦
  • 21. On the continuum from cave paintings to social media updates, the need to communicate has created an infinite sensory palette of visual and verbal expression, unfolding the mysterious and elusive power of symbols.
  • 22. Ancient Vedic traditions used visual tools to serve as centering devices and/or as symbolic compositions of energy patterns, which were then adopted for worship or meditation.
  • 23. Early precursors of semioticians in the Western World include Plato (428-348 BCE) whose ‘Cratylus’ ponders the origin of language; Aristotle (384-322 BCE) considers nouns in ‘Poetics and On Interpretation’. The word ‘semiotics’ comes from a Greek root, seme, as in semeiotikos, an interpreter of signs. Semiotics is the analyses of signs or the study of functioning sign systems.
  • 24. The quintessential sign was the medical symptom for the Stoics. It’s a sign! Fever! Medical symptom!
  • 25. Leading European proto-semiotician, John Locke (1632-1704) examined the signifying process as a basis for logic in his seminal essay ‘Concerning Human Understanding’ (1690).
  • 26. Ʃƞμιωτικῄ And, perhaps, if they were distinctly weighed, and duly considered, they would afford us another sort of Logick and Critick, than what we have been hitherto acquainted with. The Third Branch may be called Ʃƞμιωτικῄ. or the Doctrine of Signs; the most usual whereof being Words, it is aptly enough termed also Logick; the business whereof, is to consider the Nature of Signs, the Mind makes use of for the understanding of Things, or conveying its Knowledge to others. John Locke, “Of the Division of the Sciences {beyond the Speculative and the Practical},” 1690
  • 27. Ludwig von Bertalanffy draws a thin line between realistic conceptualization (symbol making) and utter derangement (schizophrenia at worst) to state that both depend upon the fragile boundary of an adequately true cultural framework or what consensus accepts as the truth of that framework at a certain moment in history.
  • 28. The two primary traditions in contemporary semiotics in the 20th century stem from the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and the American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce (1839-1914). Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer to as ‘signs’ in everyday speech, but of anything which ‘stands for’ something else.
  • 29. Often hailed as the founder of semiotics, Ferdinand de Saussure was born into an academic family in1857 in Geneva, Switzerland. At age 19, he went to the University of Leipzig to study languages; later he published ‘Primitive System of Vowels in Indo-European Languages’.
  • 30. Following completion of his research thesis, Saussure left for the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, France where he taught Sanskrit and became more interested in languages of history than general linguistics.
  • 31. Saussure defined linguistic sign as a two- sided entity, a dyad, consisting of signifier and signified. The signifier was the material marker and the signified was the mental concept the signifier enkindled.
  • 32. Carrot SignifierSignified According to Saussure, linguistic sign was not a link between thing and name, but a psychological recognition between sound pattern (signifier) and a concept (signified). Phono centricity was the hearer’s psychological impression of a sound, as given by the evidence of senses. This sound pattern or the material element was a representation of sensory impressions, and thus be distinguished from the other element, a more abstract concept, associated with it in a linguistic sign. Bait
  • 33. F TIG The signifiers /G/I/F/T/ engenders is a mental concept of a present; a thing given willingly without payment.
  • 34. But, for Germans ‘gift’ means ‘poison.’
  • 35. So agreed rules govern the conventional relationship of the signifier and the signified. Language is not complete in any speaker; it exists only within a collectivity.
  • 36. The fact that language is a system (langue), it can be thought of a communal cupboard, housing all the possible different signs which might be pulled out and utilized in the construction of an instance of parole, individuals acts of speech. Consequently, language is entirely a socio-cultural phenomenon.
  • 37. Like language, symbols also connote disparate set of meanings in different cultural groups. Americans who live in the New England area give pine as response when asked for an example of a tree; those in Florida mention palm trees.
  • 38. Because culture is built on natural language, culture may be classified in its conceptualization of the sign.
  • 39. Across the Atlantic, around the same time as Saussure, pragmatist philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Pierce (1839-1914) formulated his triadic model of the sign, drawing upon the cognitive- philosophical approach. Pierce’s semiotic framework focuses on the analyses of meaning interpretation.
  • 40. ✦ Sign/Representamen Interpretant Object The form which the sign takes (Sign Vehicle) The sense aspect of the sign (Referent) Beyond the sign to which it refers (Referent)
  • 41. Sign/Representamen Interpretant Object The realm of firstness is understood by feeling. Eg. Feeling evoked by music. The realm of secondness is brute facts which arise to form linkages. Eg. Strumming of guitar The realm of thirdness is the mental element. Eg. Music triggered thoughts of boyfriend before his death. ✦ ✦ ✦
  • 42. At the level of sign/representmen (firstness) 1. Qualisign 2. Sinsign 3. Legisign SIGN
  • 43. Qualisign Representamen made up of a quality (for e.g. color red)
  • 44. Sinsign Representamen made up of a existing physical reality (for e.g. road sign)
  • 45. Legisign Representamen made up of a law (for e.g. referee sign)
  • 46. At the level of object (secondness) 1. Icon 2. Symbol 3. Index Object
  • 47. Icon Sign relates to its object in some resemblance with it (for e.g. photograph)
  • 48. Symbol Sign relates to its object by means of convention (for e.g. flag)
  • 49. Index Sign relates to its object in terms of causation (for e.g. Statue of Liberty for freedom)
  • 50. At the level of interpretant (thirdness) 1. Rheme 2. Dicent 3. Argument Interpretant
  • 51. Rheme Sign is represented for the Interpretant as a possibility (for e.g. mental concept)
  • 52. Dicent The sign is represented for the Interpretant as a fact (for e.g. descriptive statement)
  • 53. Argument Sign is represented for the Interpretant as a reason (for e.g. proposition)
  • 54. Icon The number two Index Symbol Longhorn cattle Heavy rock music Astronaut Moon Science & Technology
  • 55. In any given transaction, a source is necessarily coupled by means of a channel to a destination; the variety of such passageways is constrained by the specific sensorium of each.
  • 57. The myths which suffuse humans’ lives are insidious because, they seem natural. They call out for detailed analyses which semiosis can deliver. Conversely, they can abundantly assist brand owners and custodians to create myth surrounding the brands in the minds of their consumers.
  • 58. It’s a great logo The lion signifies the power of Hollywood
  • 59. For Claude Levi-Strauss, an anthropological phenomena such as kinship systems can be studied as meaningful in their structural relations. The prohibitions on marriage which exist - the most obvious taboo on incest - are not the result of simple biological predeterminations. They represent a signifying cultural system.
  • 60. Claude Levi-Strauss argues who married whom is bound by meaningful system of exchange, possibility and difference which is not dissimilar to the rules enshrined in language. How aboutyour cousin? Don’t marry your sister!
  • 61. Semiotic square is the elementary structure of signification, marking off the oppositional logic that is at the heart of both narrative progression and semantic, thematic, or symbolic content. It can prove to be an influential tool not only in narrative theory but also in the ideological positioning of brands. Contrary Corollary Contradictory
  • 62. I abandon traditional anthropology and traditional linguistics that consider merely terms. I apply Straussian semiological notion of structuralism so that brand owners and custodians can begin to think of brands as frames of references, relations between the terms in the reference points.
  • 63. I amalgamate Saussurean linguistics, Peircean semiotic triad, Freudian unconscious, and Straussian structuralism to advance semiotics in the context of brand building. I present the application using the Muthoot Group in the third section of this slide deck presentation.
  • 64. ✦ How can semiotics help in brand building?
  • 65. The final section historically plots the brand-building voyage of the Muthoot Group, applying semiotic concepts and methods to establish a model of brand to extend the scientific understanding of brand differentiation and consumer perceptions.
  • 66. A CASE IN SEMIOSIS OF BRAND BUILDING
  • 67. ✦ In 1887 during the days of British-colonized India, Muthoot established a business supplying rations to large British-run plantations. Trained elephants hauled logs.
  • 68. Though Muthoot’s line of business evolved in the 128 years, the brand possessed supreme integrity that corroborated its fidelity in advancing values espoused by sociocultural, symbolic, and ideological aspects. 1887 1934 1971 2000s
  • 69. The Muthoot leadership champions the core values of trust through four generations.
  • 70. Carved out of the semiosic ubiquity, semiotics explicates how Muthoot’s twin-elephant logo stands as a visual shortcut for a specific referent (financial product or service) that culminates as cardinal instruments of interpersonal and/or group persuasion (trust, security).
  • 71. CONNOTATION DENOTATION Connotation is what is implied; connotative meaning is more variable, figurative, and subjective. Denotation is a definitional, literal meaning (objective). PRODUCT EXPERIENCE
  • 73. Muthoot rapidly evolved from a mere adjunct to monetary and credit policies to an active participant in the mainstream financial sector in the new millennium. Launching from the gold lending platform, Muthoot expanded into other financial segments ranging from money and foreign exchange to shares and commodity trading.
  • 74. Recognizing that consumers prefer a brick-and-mortar institution with a wide national presence, Muthoot rapidly increased its locations in the length and breadth of India, thereby successfully reaching rural populations that do not have banks to serve their financial needs. TOTAL NUMBER OF MUTHOOT BRANCHES IN INDIA ANNUAL INCREASE OF BRANCHES
  • 75. DENOTATION EXPERIENCE Technology (mobile app, ATM) Simplicity (speed of transaction) Security (strong room)
  • 76. Considering the immense potential of the gold loan business and its ability to serve the unbanked population of the country, Muthoot has transformed the perception of gold loan from a distressed product to a lifestyle product.
  • 77. Muthoot’s IT governance mechanism encourages a set of behavior that goes with its vision, mission, and values. It has stayed ahead of the curve in terms of automation and digital enablement. Customers with Demat account are offered online trading in equity shares and derivatives with leading brokerage firms.
  • 78. Muthoot fashioned itself as a bank. The integrity of a bank is its safety. Muthoot provided a secure environment to safeguard the gold deposited by building armored vaults and strong rooms in every location it served to claim protection from thefts, fire, natural disasters, unauthorized use, and other threats. Every branch is installed with CCTV and a surveillance system.
  • 79. CONNOTATION EXPERIENCE Generations of trust Entrepreneurial growth Sponsoring IPL/ISL CSR activities
  • 80. Today, Muthoot for societal good addresses financial inclusion, medical assistance to the lesser privileged, education for poor, and marriage assistance among others to transform rural and semi-urban communities of India in its triumphant march of the CSR movement.
  • 81. Muthoot and Delhi Daredevils joined hands together to bat for the cause of education of the lesser privileged children in India.
  • 82. Today, Muthoot for societal good addresses financial inclusion, medical assistance to the lesser privileged, education for poor, and marriage assistance among others to transform rural and semi-urban communities of India in its triumphant march of the CSR movement.
  • 83. For Muthoot’s efforts to integrate India’s marginalized into the mainstream and pro bono activities aimed at causes of benefitting the rural poor, women, and children, Muthoot was presented with the Golden Peacock award, regarded as a benchmark for corporate excellence.
  • 85. Jaya Gajawat ran a small boutique in Jaipur, RJ for many years. Her fashion and design sense was well appreciated by her clientele; with her own customers’ encouragement, Jaya dreamed of turning her shop into a big store. She applied for a loan with Muthoot to fund her expansion plans. In five minutes she got the loan she need and today she’s the owner of a large boutique.
  • 86. In 2015 Muthoot published “One Hundred Tales of Hope,” entrepreneurial stories of men and women who realized their long-standing dreams. 100 stories. 100 hopes. All fulfilled.
  • 87. SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH OCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SK KOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH SKOCH Muthoot was conferred the Skoch Financial Inclusion Award 2013 in resignation of the major initiatives in the area of ‘access to banking and financial services’ to the masses who has been excluded from the country’s banking network for decades.
  • 88. CONNOTATION DENOTATION PRODUCT EXPERIENCE Realization of personal goals Customer stories Generations of trust Entrepreneurial growth Sponsoring IPL/ISL CSR activities Technology (mobile app, ATM) Simplicity Friendly and consistent service Security Loan/repayment Operationalizing gold Perception of ubiquity Speed of transaction
  • 89. Though both denotation and connotation can both be used to describe imagery of form or function of a brand, they have different contexts and orders of signification represented in a semiotic 2x2 framework.
  • 90. EMOTIONAL SOCIAL CULTURAL FUCTIONAL To create memorable stories in the collective nation’s culture, the augmented definition of brand embeds the the extremely successful microanalysis of individual consumption of brand into a new analysis of cultural interaction.
  • 91. IS THIS THE WAY CONSUMERS SEE YOUR BRAND?
  • 93. Sudio David Pearl Illustrations: Pearl Salhotra Proofreader: David Upright Production: Dharmesh Samraj