For my presentation I have looked at one of Peterborough's oldest and biggest manufacturer, The Quaker Company, More specifically the outside and inside of the building. As I was driving towards the building I thought, what was so significant about the Quaker building and how could a picture of a Quaker be so significant in today's culture. I also thought that this whole image of Quaker could not be that overwhelming. However, with great embarrassment I was completely mistaken. This one business and more specifically building has so many signified meanings and linguistic meanings that I did not anywhere to start from.
When I stood at the foot of the hill of the Quaker building I was overwhelmed by the enormous size of it and how it sits on a hill overlooking the north end of downtown Peterborough. I started to think that this is the signifier, it's big and it's on a hill. Now if you think about this for a minute you begin to realize that simply the size and position of this building has many meanings which are of course subconsciously.
The Quaker building has many meanings and therefore the signified list is very long, but first we will look at the signifier. The sign is the word Quaker, plain and simple, and the signifier is Q-u-a-k-e-r. However the word Quaker is not just a word, it means many, many things which is where the signified comes in. The actual building is huge, which gave me the feeling that they are a successful company and that their product must be all over the world. The building is also white brick. This, without even knowing it gives you a feeling of safety and purity (just as their products should be). Then there is the fact that it is situated on the top of a hill, when you put meaning to this, there is the feeling of greatness and domination. In my opinion these meanings or signified's work like a funnel, they all at first have nothing to do with each other, but when you put them together they all funnel into one thing, a marketing ploy to buy their product. My point is that they knew exactly where to place their building and what color to paint it for the sole purpose of selling their products. They knew what meanings people would pull from these signs and signifiers.
When looking at the word Quaker you get a feeling of comfort. It gives an impression of going back to past times where morals and family values were at the forefront of Quaker society. This feeling is supported with the literal meaning of Quaker which of course was a people of purity and religion. This sits very well with people, especially parents who are the main market of their products. All parents would like to think of their kids as pure and innocent. These are signified meanings associated with the word Quaker. Quakers major marketing technique is their image. They express their image through a sign system of pictures which have a lot of signified meanings. In Peterborough the Quaker building is on top of a hill towering over part of downtown. When looking up you see that very wise, happy Quaker face. Even though this is only their building they can still market their product. The sign system of a picture of a Quaker is a way of saying were a good, wholesome product like this man who is a Quaker who you can trust and who is pure and simple like our product. A person sees this and says (not literally), well if it’s made by Quakers who are good pure people then I guess it’s good enough for my children who are good and pure. The person doesn't actually say this. However, it is a sign system working subconsciously for the sole purpose of marketing. My point is that the picture of the Quaker is not there by accident. The colors of the Quaker are green and white. To me these colours represent purity and are an excellent way of saying our products is pure. When analyzing this company more, it becomes clear that they are working very hard to get the point across that their product is pure and wholesome.
They attack you from every angle, such as pictures, words, colours and even their building. Quakers linguistic sign system is not a simple letter like M is for McDonalds or a word such as great for frosted flakes. It’s a slogan, "You prepare them for life and we prepare them for the day". If you compare them to these other linguistic sign systems I have listed you notice that reading an M works like an image in your mind, however the slogan "You prepare them for life, we prepare them for the day" works on emotions. Both are very effective techniques, however the latter makes you feel a certain way, it makes you feel comfortable, which has a direct effect on whether you purchase their products or not. This is unlike McDonalds who uses the M as a way of being familiar with their products, so you can say, "ah there's the M it must be McDonalds." This linguistic slogan has a lot more meanings. Firstly, when giving it meaning you find it is meant for parents, because the biggest consumer of their products is children. Its main meaning however that if is you eat their products you will be prepared for the day, healthy and happy.
This linguistic system works very well for selling their products, because parents and grandparents alike can relate to this slogan. It is very familiar to them, because maybe they ate this product when they were kids or something familiar to it. Quaker in its marketing strategy is betting that this slogan will be familiar and hoping the emotions that are being felt will ride parents in to the grocery store to buy their products.
Quaker using semiotics in everything it does. It is very effective in taking a word or a picture or slogan and transforming it into emotions and meanings. This is how it bases its marketing techniques, on semiotics. Quaker the word means so many things as it has been around for so many years, I think the company Quaker has used it very responsibly and effectively in using Quaker the name and Quaker the picture.
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