Design Code-X

Market Red

Image for Market Red

KFC logo

The CODE-X series catalogs a vast codex of source codes (aka “signs”) extracted from past audits.

The object of study in semiotics is not the signs but rather a general theory of signification; the goal of each “audit” is to build a model demonstrating how meaning is produced and received within a category or cultural territory. Signs on their own, therefore, only become truly revelatory and useful once we’ve sorted them into thematic complexes, and the complexes into codes, and the codes into a meaning map. We call this process “thick description”; the Code-X series is thin description.


MARKET RED” NORM: Red as the focus point for mainstream consumerism — a red cape waved in front of us, the bull. Many of the dominant staples — fast food, retail, packaged foods, snacks, etc. — have captured enduring fan bases by waving the red flag.


From a 2022 study of the colors red and black, on their own and in combination, as found in US branding and culture. Part of a global study in which our friends at the UK agency Creative Semiotics invited us to participate; we also worked with Adam McGovern.

Tags: CODE-X, Color Meaning