Semiotics is usually used to decode, whether it is images, words, or concepts. However, this research through practice explores how to ‘encode,’ and specifically encoding visual messaging using semiotics, by appropriating the theories used in semiotics and applying them to ‘advertising tools and techniques’ to encode branded messaging. Some of the thoughts from the following theorists are applied to the tools and techniques used in advertising: Roland Barthes and his views on popular culture; Kress and Van Leeuwens’s theories on the grammar of visual design; Canadian Marcel Danesi’s semiotic interpretation of advertising and branding, along with Stuart Hall’s observations on encoding/decoding, and Eco’s perspective on sign production. This case study deals with a personal brand named El Crayolas that was created and encoded from 2013 to 2015 in Mexico City.
For this case study, the personal brand was encoded using both digital and analogue methods. El Crayolas was encoded using specific signs, codes, and emergent codes which were placed into various visual communications. This branding was broadcast as content on: social media, exhibited through contemporary art practice, and broadcast on advertising billboards.
This ‘research through practice’ presents the process used to ‘encode’ using signs, codes and emergent codes to create a personal brand named El Crayolas, and asks the question ‘Can semiotics be used to encode a personal brand by appropriating advertising tools and techniques? ‘ The case study also explores the concept that designers can be empowered to create more effective design if they apply semiotic theory to encode their design projects.