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Are your image selections in step with the values that the brand should convey?
With the help of semiotics - the science of symbols and how they are interpreted - you can build a stronger brand. We have enlisted the help of a real expert in the field, semiotician Karin Sandelin from TNS Sifo. Join in our Semiotics school - it's time for the final class!
What's it all about?
An image always represents something more than what it visualizes, and a semiotician can explain why an image is perceived in a certain way and why it evokes certain emotions. Karin Sandelin is an experienced semiotician who works at TNS Sifo, Sweden's largest market research company. Karin does semiotic analysis and makes recommendations for customers in a variety of industries, ranging from the financial industry and television to the government and parliament. She says:

"We interpret everything around into something that has a meaning for us. In today's image society your marketing signals values and meanings you might not be personally aware of. The colors, shapes and images you use convey who you are and tell what you offer, guided by cultural codes."
Pictures build an identity
An image can be seen as a recipe. Each ingredient carries a significance that affect the overall expression. If an ingredient is removed it changes the "taste" in the same way as when you add something. What happens, for example, when we change a color image to black and white?

The image's meaning is also affected by the context, such as an adjacent headline or color. What the picture tells us is ruled by the culture we live in, and is changeable in both time and space. By being aware of what the picture symbolizes in the here and now, you can signal a consistent and clear identity. If you allow semiotics to play a larger role in your visual communication, you will be able to build a stronger brand.
Want to refresh your memory? Here you will find Semiotics school Part 1
SEMIOTICS SCHOOL PART 2 Take advantage of the insight of the images' meaning
How hard can it really be to choose a good portrait?
It may be a little harder than you originally thought. If you think about semiotics when selecting images, there is something more to consider. But it is worth the extra effort because with the right image selections you will support the values you want to communicate and thereby strengthen the brand.

We asked semiotician Karin Sandelin to comment on three different types of portraits, and explain what the portraits communicate and why.
SAFE STABILITY
"The shape of the picture has a horizontal focus which provides stability and tranquility - which in itself conveys a calm and reliable expression. The woman thus appears to be passive and static, she is standing by reflecting still water which in turn symbolizes nature's slow and predictable movements.

The earthy colors, dark and quiet, together build values of melancholy, profundity and sentimentality."
OPEN, WELCOMING
"Here the picture is cropped to depict the subject at a conversational distance, relatively close but not provocative or confrontational. It signals availability and proximity. The proximity is symbolized also by the underlying greenery and lifelike sunlight, a familiar feeling rooted in nature as you experience it."

"Their bodies, faces and eyes are turned towards you, and the eyes, mouths and clothes are open, providing additional accessibility. The naturally messy hair, the lack of makeup, and everyday garments further contributes to normal authenticity and says 'we are in your world, at the same level'."
SELF-CONFIDENT AUTHORITY
"Visual communication has a power language of its own that is preferably used when you want to express something as exclusive and one of a kind. It may be distancing, 'you have to come to me,' and of symmetry with a clear central figure. By treating the subject as a work of art you highlight its importance and relevance."

"The expression carries obvious mannerisms, styled and staged in a constructed environment. The depicted person marks another restrained distance by closed body language and face, enhanced by the highly polished details and the absence of color."
Would you like to review your communications from a semiotic perspective?
Finally we asked Karin Sandelin for her best tips for those of you who want to consider the semiotic perspective in your communication:

Determine what values you want to convey. Or get some help to define them. Here in the newsletter we just scrape the surface, there is of course a great advantage to getting help to tailor the imagery and anchor it in the present mode and the desired mode.

How do you communicate the desired values? Inclusive? Traditional/Innovative? Dynamic? Rebellious?

Start looking at pictures that express those values. It may help to also select images that do NOT communicate properly. By seeing the contrast you'll know what not to select!

Make a visual language guide! How do we talk using images?

Good Luck!

PS. Keep an eye out in future newsletters where you will get tips on how to make a visual language guide and what it should contain.
THE TIP
WELCOME Visit us on Pinterest
Inspiration is a well-worn word, yet it is oh so important.

We've all sat through a tangled image search like it would never end. We do not know exactly what the picture should look like, we just know that we have not yet found the right picture.
Visit us at Pinterest to find new strength.

Pinterest's arrangement with boards allows you to quickly scan the images. Really great pictures that you did not even know existed. It's very inspirational!
DIAGNOSTIC TEST Find two faults...or more?
Now that Semiotics school is over, we think it might be fun to test your knowledge! Which of the images indicate values that run counter to the other? The correct answer will be in the newsletter May 12.