This is a key aspect of Semiotics: the study of signs. We've already explored denotation, connotation and myth. Now we need to learn some more semiotic terminology to help identify how meanings are created in media texts.
Semiotics: icon, index, symbol notes
These terms were coined by the American philosopher and scientist Charles Sanders Peirce in the 1800s.
An Icon has a physical resemblance to the signified, the thing being represented. A photograph is a good example as it certainly resembles whatever it depicts.
An Index shows evidence of what’s being represented. A good example is using an image of smoke to indicate fire.
A Symbol has no resemblance between the signifier and the signified. The connection between them must be culturally learned. Numbers and alphabets are good examples.
Source of these definitions: Vanseo Design Blog
A brief introduction to icons, indexes and symbols:
Icon, index, symbol: blog task
Create a new blogpost called 'Semiotics: icon, index, symbol blog task'
1) Find three examples for each: icon, index and symbol. Provide images or links.
2) Why are icons and indexes so important in media texts?
3) Why might global brands try and avoid symbols in their advertising and marketing?
4) Find an example of a media text (e.g. advert) where the producer has accidentally communicated the wrong meaning using icons, indexes or symbols. Why did the media product fail? (This web feature on bad ads and marketing fails provides some compelling examples).
5) Find an example of a media text (e.g. advert) that successfully uses icons or indexes to create a message that can be easily understood across the world.
Complete for homework if you don't finish this during the lesson - due next Monday.