The Communication section, in Marks of Exellence, speaks the of idea that trademark communication exceeds the realm of graphic design, breaching into other relative aspects of study, such as semiotics. The social role and interacting systems (semiotics) of a sign is communicated through the language of graphic design via symbols, letters, and words.
Communication is a transport of meaning, or a social interaction through message. Semiotic manipulation focuses interest on the sign produced. As Charles Sanders Pierce stated," a sign is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity."
As Shannon and Weaver's Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948) proclaims, there are three apparent problems that arise with trademark communication; the signal, message, and influence. The Signal deals with a symbol's accuracy (is it visible enough?), while it's precision of meaning is handled via message (is it understandable), and influence is displayed by the mark's effectiveness (will it create the desired effect). For example, the Montblanc Pen Co. trademark was designed to represent the snow-capped summit of Mt. Blanc through a rounded six-tipped white star on the tip of the black pen. This proved a conflict in similarity with the star of David symbol.
Noise is noted as anything that hinders the correct decoding of a message. There are generally two types of noise. Engineered noise relates between the trademark and the surrounding visual environment in which it exists. Opposite that, semantic noise is created between the similarities of a trademark and it's competition. The audience will naturally react in different opinions.
The image of Mercedes-Benz' logo as a hood ornament conveys a multi-transferable (dimensional) mark. Trademarks are a visual phenomena due to the transferability through several channels by different media forms. These channels exist physically by which the signal is being engaged. The technical means of transmission through acts/presentational and works/representational media. Constraints and biases do exist in the different formats. Cultural regionality is one example of these constraints.
Trademarks can retain a primary visual phenomenon along with a secondary audible quality. These phenomena create the context of a trademark. Dimension and perspective also shapes context. The temporal relationship of drinking is present through the context of spatial stages of consumption in Cassandre's iconic Dubonnet poster.
Another function of the communication vehicle is linguistics. In 1960, Jakobsen's communication model created a linear model of the Shannon and Weaver theory by relating factors of context, message, addresser, addressee, contact, and code. The double function of language is either referential or emotional. Referential language is thought of as objective and calls for attention, whereas emotional language is subjective; further inviting participation. Linguistics covers referential (dealing with the message and the referent), emotive (dealing with the addresser and the emotional message), conative (message and effect on addressee), poetic (message and it's characteristics), phatic (communication; establish/continue), and metalingual (understood clarity of communication) subfunctions as well.
Signs interact through different layers and interpretations based on the physical sign itself, it's symbology and the reaction the sign generates.
Beyond the physical, communication can function in code; a semiotic system of signs incorporating relations and meanings which can be objectively and/or subjectively referenced. Logical codes are either paralinguistic (ideas instead of sound), practical (instruction/coordination), or epistemological (classification/calculation). Expressive codes are interpretive and emotional.
Trademarks operate in subjective or objective modes. Each mode can exist with the other in variation through three fields of communication. Indication refers to a single being, Induction to action, and representation through knowledge.
All signs are conventional in the sense that the level of meaning is determined by that convention's strength. Motivated conventions are natural, whereas arbitrary signs require understanding beyond literal connotation; both existing in degrees. Symbols simply are non-figurative communications, linked arbitrarily to the objects. Icons are linked in similarity with the object, and can be conveyed through images (representation of real object), diagrams (showing structural schematics), and metaphorical (shared conceptual qualities with the object). Indices are physically connected to the object through designations (acquired meaning through relation of location) and reagents (effect via casual association with the object). All of these elements aid the relationship between the sign and what it stands for.
Trademarks carry multiple meanings. Distinction describes a referral function, meanwhile description through categorization and attribution are emotional references. As Paul Rand states, "A trademark is created by a designer but made by a corporation." The quote is as genuine as it is true. Furthermore, semiotic subject matter is the production of meaning. The purpose of a mark's meaning can be broken down through the control of visual identity, external identity, internal identity, rationalization, economics, business goals, encoded meaning, individualization, categorization, attribution, aberrant decode, performance based, and wild decode.
'Form follows function', as Sullivan once said. This idea definitely applies to graphic design as trademarks allow immediate identification, while invoking values of visibility, application, competition, legality, simplicity, attention, decency, color/grey reproduction, vehicles, holding power, description, tone, fashion, timelessness, graphic excellence, marketability, medium, pronunciation, nonverbal sounds, discretion, and favorability.