Marketing insights: Anticipate how consumers might decipher colors, symbols

When we try to make sense of signs and symbols, there is an interplay between our outer world (our environment and cultural context that we live in) and our inner world (our mental ability to make sense of what we see, based on our existing knowledge).

When it comes to advertising, packaging design and marketing-related practices, it is important to keep in mind how consumers might decipher the codes that we put out there.

We need to consider the context in which people operate, and the meaning or value they place on particular signs and symbols.

Take, for example, the symbol of the bull in South Africa.

The local Bull Brand — a corned meat product — draws on particular qualities of the bull in its slogan “strong like a bull”.

Semiotically, the bull is both a sacred and profane metaphor symbolising wealth and social value in cultural practices (such as lobola negotiations), as well as a spiritual link between humans and ancestors.

We also see the bull appearing as a character in folklore, and it has even inspired songs and dance movements (some Zulu dancers have imitated mannerisms of the bull to signify their strength, courage...

Read the rest of this story from Marguerite Coetzee at

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