Opposites Matter (Introduction to Semiotics Part 7)

Jun 10 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

“The purpose of myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction”  - Claude Levi-Strauss

The Star Wars films are packed full of mythic oppositions and themes. This is quite deliberate (George Lucas was an avid reader of Joseph Campbell) and even the six part series with parts 4-6 made first, mirrors the structure of Homer’s Iliad. In the story there are oppositions between young and old (immaturity/idealism vs maturity/wisdom), Luke and the Emperor (common man vs authority figure), nature and technology, the Force and evil, Jedi and Sith (democracy vs totalitarianism), rebels and empire, freedom and tyranny, love and hate (the power of constructive vs destructive behaviour) and son and father (rite of passage based on separation). Read more »

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The Structure of Meaning (Introduction to Semiotics Part 4)

May 29 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

Signs of structure

Signs and meanings may be arbitrary in the sense that there is no direct connection between the signifier (the sign) and the signified (the underlying meaning), but they are rarely arbitrary in the way that they relate to other signs and meanings as Claude Levi-Strauss argued. Just thinking of energy drinks (see last article), there are clear and important (structural) connections between the colours, shapes, materials and words used in the category and the meanings they signify (energy, potency, stamina, power, etc). They do not just stand in isolation. Read more »

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Signs of Making Meaning

Dec 13 2011 Published by neilgains under semiotics

Making meaning

We are a peculiar species. For example, many of us continue to risk our long term survival for the pleasure of puffing on a stick of nicotine, while others make it very difficult to walk by wearing uncomfortable high heel footwear. Read more »

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7 Reasons to Use Storytelling in Research

Oct 31 2011 Published by neilgains under storytelling

“The point of a story can penetrate far deeper than the point of any bullet.”  - Laurence Nault

Getting to the point

There are seven basic plots in storytelling as we have seen over the last few weeks. These plots form the backbone of myths, fairy tales, novels and movies, and also of advertising, brand stories and how we can all communicate in business, including market researchers telling the story of their data. Here are seven reasons why stories will help you communicate ideas more effectively, helping you to build your story and helping your audience to remember the point of it all. Read more »

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The Quest (Plot #3)

Sep 14 2011 Published by neilgains under storytelling

The quest for the original plot

Writers such as Joseph Campbell and Robert McKee have identified the Quest (or variants of it) as the single original plot. The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey (and the Aeneid) all follow the outline of the Quest plot and are two of the oldest and greatest stories we know. Although only one of the seven plots outlined by Christopher Booker, it is an important one which appears frequently, sometimes combined with other plot structures, and often as a framing device for multiple individual stories which follow other structures. Read more »

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Symbols, Signs, Metaphors and Meanings

Sep 13 2011 Published by neilgains under semiotics

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind.”  - Geert Hofstede

A world of symbols

What makes us all so interesting to researchers and marketers is our enquiring mind, and nothing shows this more vividly than the web of beliefs and ideas that we have created to make meaning from the complexity of the world around us. A very important part of this framework is the vocabulary of signs and symbols that help remind us of our link to the world and each other. Read more »

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Herd Mentality (Consumer Understanding #6)

Mar 15 2011 Published by neilgains under consumer psychology

In the last post, we saw that humans are susceptible to social bias (or herd mentality).  Our mind does not work by itself alone, but through interactions with other minds in the immediate environment or more remotely through culture and shared values.  Much of what we do is under the influence of others, often without realising, with important implications for marketing and research. Read more »

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History and Storytelling

Feb 07 2011 Published by neilgains under storytelling

The sweep of history

In A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil McGregor offers a fascinating and inspiring sense of the progress of man and the sweep of history told through the individual stories of 100 objects from the British Museum (I saw many of the individual exhibits myself in two visits to the UK last year).   Although the scope of the series was vast, starting with a stone chopping tool from the Rift Valley in Tanzania, dated at around 2 million years old and finishing with a credit card and solar powered lamp and charger from today, it’s power lies in the unfolding of the individual stories of each object, placing them in their appropriate context and vividly capturing a moment in time.  I would strongly recommend anyone to listen to the podcasts which are still available at the BBC website (link in the first line) or to read the book. Read more »

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All Research is Problem Solving

Sep 06 2010 Published by neilgains under data

“In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence.  A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.”  - David Hume

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The Simple Secrets of Branding

Aug 29 2010 Published by admin under branding

I will let you into a secret. A lot of current thinking in brand and communications research is misplaced.  Most marketers and market researchers fail to take account of recent advances in psychology.  This presents a great opportunity for many companies to get ahead of the competition.

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