The Secret Power of Stickers
In this article, we want to dive a little deeper and explore stickers’ social and psychological meaning to explain why they are such a powerful and influential marketing tool that can help you grow your brand.
To do that, we will jump back to the early twentieth-century social sciences when Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure coined the term “semiology.” Semiology describes the study of “the life of signs within society” (Source).
This goes back to the belief that signs and concepts structure social and cultural interactions to refer to the real thing. Language is the most basic structure of signs we use daily – imagine you would constantly have to carry the real thing around to communicate; that’s impossible. Instead, we have come up with a system of words (signs) that enable us to refer to such concepts, meaning we can speak about things that exceed our immediate surroundings as well as abstract ideas.
This graphic explains the two components of a sign: the signifier and the signified. The signified is the concept, say a cat. A cat exists no matter what you call it – cat, Katze, chat(te), gato, or Gatto – as a four-legged, feline domesticated animal. The words we use to refer to this animal are the signifiers. The connection between signifier and signified is culturally specific and enables us to form meaningful utterances within a community that speaks the same language.
In 1976, French philosopher and literary theorist Roland Barthes added a second layer to this process to explain how a sign can be culturally charged and differentiated from its inherent meeting. The four-legged feline animal we call cat can suddenly represent different concepts depending on the context, e.g., the culture to which it’s referred. A cat can then become a god-like creature, a pet, or even a symbol of witchcraft. Barthes refers to this second-level signification as connotation, evoking all the cultural codes activated when we speak about a cat or see the inscription “c a t.”
What has this got to do with stickers?
It shows how powerful a single sign is, and stickers give you access by turning your logo into a symbol. When used in the proper context, a sticker not only evokes your business but offers you the possibility to dip into the cultural associations stored in society and position your brand consciously within them.
Let’s look at famous street artist Shepard Fairey. You might not be familiar with him, but you will recognize the logo he created immediately.
Obey stickers have been around for more than 20 years to represent the clothing line established in 2001 and as a critical comment on the social and cultural establishment and the norms and rules it has created. The sign “OBEY” plays with the denotative meaning, evoking connotations of counter-culture movements and social criticism.
Stickers offer a low-cost, effective, alternative medium to spread such messages among many people. Fairey himself states that “[i]t is hard to believe that paper and vinyl with adhesive backing can do so much” (Source).
At Sticker it, we want to help you get your message across and reach as many people as possible with your ideas. We offer fast production so you can distribute your logo stickers effectively and tap into the secret power of stickers.