This prediction can be read in the Trend Report 2016 of Wijs. “The question is whether the meaning of symbols in logo, corporate identity and visual communication always coincides with the values that the brand wants to convey”, writes David Gillain (p. 27), general manager at Android (Antwerp based creative agency). Companies are increasingly aware that imaging is communication indeed, and that it better be well done.
For several decades, science and technology penetrates firmly into the marketing practice. Little is left to chance. Market analysis determine the values that a company wants to radiate. Psychological profiles of target groups and their specific needs are established on the basis of scientific studies. In the implementation of corporate identity, logo and advertising the technological innovation is phenomenal. Design is now done almost entirely with specialized software. But the manner in which a design is created left unchanged: through same old gut feeling. Most designers still cannot explain why they choose certain colours, shapes and symbols.
Whether intended or not, all products and visual communication say something to the observer by their shape, colour, layout, texture, through language structures that deal with meaning, called semantics. Perceptions are encoded and decoded unconsciously, classified according to structures typical of the nervous system and the brain. We sense this when comparing sign systems, for example a colour, a sound and a shape can be called ‘sharp’.
The design method that City of 8 has developed to give meaning and arouse emotions with images, is based on research supported by empirical findings from cognitive psychology and genetic semantics. The designer gets a grip on the basic carriers of meaning, called semantic markers, from which imagery is composed and with which meaning is given. The method connects body language, colours and combinations of colours, shapes and materials, symbols and metaphors. Moreover, it allows the designer to logically link specific parameters of imagery with emotion and personality traits.
Design semantics does not replace gut feeling. On the contrary, it strengthens the intuition and better supports it. Early ideas that come about unconsciously, will be better understood and developed more targeted. On the other hand, the semantic design method of City of 8 can be used as a tool for analysing visual design. A designer who attended a workshop at City of 8 testifies: “Thanks to the training Design Semantics you get a scientific background / support and, when in doubt, you can start looking for the right solution, or combinations of colours, shapes and textures. It is important that both (gut feeling and design semantics) are needed, complement each other perfectly and are therefore inextricably linked.“
Design semantics is the missing link between, on the one hand, company value, market strategy, target group needs and on the other hand, the technical implementation of a logo, corporate identity, packaging, website, advertisement, etc. The proposed method has a solid scientific base. The theory meets three key conditions: it is a logical system, it can be explained evolutionarily and it has a neurophysiological basis.
Curious what design semantics could mean for your business?
Contact Inez Michiels for information on training programmes, brainstorm interventions and advice formulas.