OPERATIONALIZING THE CHANDLEREAN SEMIOTIC PROCESS: INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

Theoretical literature is agog with various semiotic deconstructive approaches (see for instance Oswald, 2012; Berger, 2010; Bianchi, 2011; Noth 2011; Barthes, 1967, 1973, 1988). While many of these have been operationalized to understand the working or process driven nature of semiotics, there is little evidence that other approaches such as Chandler’s D.I.Y. semiotic analytical process, which is equally based on Saussure’s (1960) dyadic signifier and signified sign model, have been brought to life, especially in business and management studies. This study fills this gap by providing a detailed analysis of the stage by stage processes through which meanings evolve from the deconstruction of First Bank’s corporate advertising text through Chandler’s semiotic process. The importance of pursuing this exercise is that researchers are given further insights into the process driven nature of meaning generation and deconstruction. This paper has been divided into four parts and this constitutes the first. The second examines the meaning of semiology and its criticisms. Service design process

The third discusses how meanings are generated through the deconstruction of First Bank’s corporate advertising text using Chandlerean ten stage deconstructive processes. Finally, the paper ends with a review of issues discussed.

Semiology is the study of signs (Chandler, 2002; Noth, 1995). It is often deployed by linguists and structuralists a way of interpreting how signs, within a given context, interrelate to create meanings. In recent times it has been used by brand constructionists to interpret how body copies and images encoded in advertising texts create meanings (Silverman, 1997, 2000, 2001). It is about the use of signs and objects to interpret or produce meanings for things (Marvasti, 2004). Semiotics was employed because it is not limited to what was originally referred to as signs in everyday speech, but also to anything that stands for something else. This instrument was used because it is concerned with the interpretation of everything that can be taken as a sign, (Eco, 1976) i.e. words, images, sounds, gestures and objects (Chandler, 2002). Thus, semiotics was useful in interpreting corporate identity advertising texts to produce meaning for the concept of corporate identity. Although semiotics has been used in the past to analyze speeches, it has, however, been used recently in marketing and business studies (Umiker-Sebeok, 1987) to interpret corporate and product advertising messages (Bignell, 1997). Similarly in this paper, semiotics is adopted to deconstruct how First Bank Nigeria Plc, one of the two largest financial institutions personifies (Propp, 1928/1968) itself through corporate advertisements.

Furthermore, semiotics was deemed appropriate for this study given its ability to dissect and examine cultural codes sensitively to unearth interpretational subtleties (Merris, 2001; Leiss et al., 1986) as conveyed in corporate advertisements. The greatest attractions to this instrument is its concern with the making of meaning in many perspectives, perhaps most obviously in the form of corporate advertising texts, which bring together words and visual images (Chandler, 2002).Although semiotics may give insight into how banks have been constructing the concept of corporate identity. However, it is however sad to note that there is no guarantee that the analysis of the same texts by external editor (using the same semiotic approach) will produce similar results, (Bauer and Gaskell, 2005). This accounts for the reason why, until the present date, there has been no universal agreement about the scope and methodology of semiotics. Semiotics has been perceived as a loosely defined critical practice rather than a unified, fully-fledged analytical method or theory, making it susceptible to subjective interpretation and grand assertions. Consequently, this instrument has been applied dubiously to anything and everything, trespassing on almost every academic discipline (Chandler, 2002). This makes the use of the instrument to be treated with suspicion of intellectual terrorism (Sturrock, 1986).