Applications, implications and limitations of the semiotic square for analyzing advertising discourse and discerning alternative brand futures
Keywords:structuralist semiotics, advertising account planning, semiotic/veridictory square, brand personality, semiotic trajectory of signification
The semiotic square has been heralded as one of the foremost semiotic devices for analyzing multifarious textual genres, from literature to advertising to broadcast news. By virtue of its ability to account for how semio-narrative structures transform into concrete discursive structures, thus paving the way for fleshing out virtual possibilities inscribed in achronic narrative structures, it attains to translate what appears on a surface textual level as loosely connected narrative sequences into a coherent metatext. At the same time, it manages to furnish a trajectory of alternative scenaria for streamlining future actantial possibilities of a brand’s becoming with its past by overlaying axiological frameworks and establishing complex homological equivalences among their constituent terms, thus nurturing interpretive coherence among variable advertising executions. This paper aims to lay out the distinctive usefulness of the semiotic square as a positioning platform, viewed as a dynamic, rather than static portrayal of a brand’s alternative futures, as well as to compare and contrast its heuristic value vis a vis existing models in advertising development. Its applicability will be discussed in the light of actual case studies, while addressing implications for the ongoing management of a brand as a living and constantly mutating text. However, given that no method is free from limitations, the paper will also adopt a critical outlook towards the validity of the semiotic square for analysing advertising discourse and moreover for utilizing distinctive typologies that emerge from the process of reducing the signification of a text through the semiotic square, while rendering redundant the richness of a surface textual structure. The exposure of the limitations of the semiotic square will in turn feed into a potential recontextualization of the focus of its application from semionarrative to discursive structures, thus contributing to the potential closure of ad textual meaning.
How to Cite
This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.