How We Work

Our unique methodology surfaces deep, rich insights and inspiration — and it is customizable for each project.

Why Use Semiovox?

Take a step back, and consider the big picture. What are the ideas, values, and higher-order benefits that define your brand? How to communicate these in highly engaging, relevant ways?

Our US-based and global audits help world-class brands and companies — from a wide range of product and service categories — define and elevate a brand personality, identify differentiated positioning opportunities, optimize advertising for relevance, and design breakthrough packaging.

Once we’ve helped your team — and agency partners — agree on new brand guardrails, you can write design and marketing briefs, and develop consumer-facing stimuli, with utmost confidence.

Semiotics 101

Semiotics is a study not of consumer beliefs, desires, attitudes, nor the consumer’s habits, behaviors, and practices — but of the category and culture “codes” helping to shape and guide consumers’ intuitive decision-making process around how relevant and engaging a particular brand is. As culture changes, habits and conventions change… and the meaning of codes changes. Brands that fail to keep abreast of these shifts will lose mindshare among consumers.

Whether the goal is positioning and repositioning a brand vs. its competitive set, refocusing a brand’s identity and optimizing communications accordingly, extending a brand to new products, customers, and markets, or designing breakthrough packaging, Semiovox’s audits produce actionable tools — e.g., cultural and category codes, code and brand maps, brand identity keys, and more — that decrease a brand’s risk of competitive attack and consumer disconnect.

Powerful Methodology

Whether our research input includes brand communications, social media, pop culture and journalism, retail environments, consumer interviews, or other stimuli, our analysis will find the signal within the noise… and output insights and inspiration that consumer research alone cannot.

Semiovox’s local network is composed of US-based semioticians, trend spotters, and pattern hunters with over 20 years’ experience analyzing the unspoken codes of North American brands and culture. On global projects, we collaborate with a worldwide network of culture experts in order to surface highest common factors and differences.

Our follow-up empathetic consumer research, and our strategic and activation workshops, ensure that our audits’ learnings are validated — and immediately actionable, for all brand stakeholders.

Analysis-Informed Workshops

We have 20+ years’ experience running brainstorming workshops designed to transform the rich learnings from our semiotics-powered audits and consumer research into “go-do” action items.

We typically invite both the client team and marketing/design agency partners to participate in half-day or full-day f2f strategic workshops, during which we aim to answer questions such as:

  • Where does our brand play, within the category or cultural space under consideration?
  • Within that space, what opportunities do we see to reposition and/or elevate the brand?
  • How far from our current positioning is too far to shift, without alienating our consumers?

Our activation workshops can take place during the second half of our day together, or else we can schedule it for a week or two later — in order to give all stakeholders an opportunity to discuss. The goal of an activation workshop is to address tactical considerations, such as:

  • What verbal and visual cues are ownable by our brand?
  • Which codes should we activate against, in our packaging, advertising, etc., in order to reposition and/or elevate the brand, differentiate its positioning vs. the competition, and future-proof?
  • What aspects of our brand heritage should we enhance, and which should we jettison?
  • In order to avoid sending mixed messages, which verbal/visual cues should we avoid?

If these workshops end in consensus around strategy and tactics, then Semiovox’s final deliverable is a set of brand guardrails and a POV on next steps, intended to guide the client’s writing of design/marketing briefs. The guardrails report is also valuable for evaluating agency deliverables.

If strategy and/or tactics are still under debate, then we can develop consumer-facing stimuli representing the opportunities in question. Semiovox can conduct consumer research, or consult with the client’s research agency.

Analysis-Informed Consumer Research

Semiovox offers a variety of semiotics-powered qualitative consumer research modules, which we deploy as needed in order to augment, validate, challenge, and build on our audits’ learnings.

For best results, we recommend conducting a semiotic audit first — as early in the process as possible. After a client/agency strategic and/or activation workshop, we can develop consumer-facing stimuli representing the territories and codes in question. Semiovox can then conduct consumer research in order to help understand which opportunities make the best sense. By conducting the semiotic audit first, we can quickly identify interesting opportunity areas and “sharpen the pencil” before asking questions of consumers; you’ll get better results, this way.

Typically, we recruit forward-thinking consumers from across the country (or across global markets), through our sister agency, Consumer Eyes; or mainstream consumers through a research partner. Using a password-protected online platform, we interact with consumers over the course of 4–5 days, asking them to engage in both in-home and in-store exercises. The client can follow along in real time. Screener and discussion guide to be developed with approval of the client, in advance.

We can also conduct f2f and in-home research, either through our sister agency, Consumer Eyes, or through another research partner.

If timing is an issue, we can also conduct research — whether online, in-home, or shop-alongs — in parallel with the semiotic audit. We’ll then interpret the results of the consumer research through the lens of what we’ve learned about category or culture codes, and combine the two studies’ insights and inspiration prior to the strategic and/or activation workshop.

We can also conduct semiotic analysis of existing consumer research output, including:

  • Answers to interview questions, whether written or video
  • Materials created during focus group exercises
  • Pinterest boards and liveblogs, etc., created by consumers
  • Photos uploaded by brand fans to social media platforms