Okay, I did not ask Chris Arning if he has become rich with his Creative Semiotics boutique consultancy in the UK. Not rich enough yet, I’d suppose, if he is still in business — but then, running a semiotics consultancy and having clients pay you for doing what you love could be a great thing too. Especially when your clients include giants like BBC, Unilever, and Pepsico.
Last week Chris ran an intensive course on commercial semiotics for students at the University of Tartu — one of the few institutions in the entire world that teaches degree programmes in semiotics. At the end of the course, we sat down to talk about using semiotics commercially, selling the semiotic approach to clients, and setting up and promoting one’s consultancy business.
To start with, commercial semiotics operates in the field of branding and marketing. Usually clients turn to Chris with strategic brand management issues. They typically want to evaluate the performance of their brand, need to reposition their brand and take it to new markets, or they want to develop new products. Semiotics helps businesses understand the context that surrounds their brand and, more importantly, make decisions on the basis of this information. Continue reading