Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. It investigates how meaning is created and communicated. Semiotics can be seen everywhere; Road signs, logos, games, advertising and branding.

There are 3 types of semiotics:

  • Iconic – This type of sign looks like what it is representing. We can easily understand these because they use well recognised shapes and images that we already understand e.g. a portrait or instructional illustration.
  • Symbolic – This sign does not look like exactly what it is representing but its meaning can be easily learnt and remembered in order to understand their meaning e.g. logos, flags, some road signs.
  • Indexical – This type of sign is one that is connected to or suggests something else that is usually associated with it e.g. smoke suggesting fire, and arrow suggesting what it is pointing at.

Some examples of semiotics:


Iconic (A Christmas tree) / Indexical (Christmas)

The shape of a pine tree is an iconic shape seen in a lot of festive designs. The use of green also makes it more recognisable as a tree. We know it to be a Christmas tree because it is mostly seen on product designs at and around christmas and so we assume it to be festive.


Iconic Symbolic (Logo)

These game die each show different symbols and images that are designed to be recognisable as there is no text to explain each of them. This is done with symbolic shapes and symbols such as the explosion, the factory and the stick character. Other iconic images include The Joker face and the Gotham city scene, both recognisable from the Batman comics, cartoons and movies. Another iconic symbol used here is the Batman logo. There is no obvious title or name to suggest that this is a Batman themed product but it is shown by the very iconic and recognisable logo and the character shown on the packaging.



This book cover shows symbols that are commonly seen around public bathrooms and other public facilities representing female and male. The way the symbols are placed, tells a story to the reader and suggests the events of the story with few words.


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