chapter  20
Images With Messages: A Semiotic Approach to Identifying and Decoding Strategic Visual Communication
ByJanis Teruggi Page
Pages 16

Strategic communication is the “purposeful use of communication by an organization to fulll its mission” (Hallahan, Holtzhausen, van Ruler, Vercˇicˇ, & Sriramesh , 2007, p. 4). It provides particular information, inuences desired attitudes, and encourages specic behaviors. This chapter focuses on how one can identify strategic approaches in an organization’s visual communication and decode it from a critical perspective. Visual theory oers ways to recognize and understand how strategic intent may inuence construction of a visual image’s form and content, embedding it with a dominant ideology and guiding receivers toward a preferred reading. This essay will review theories that help explain the various ways a visual image might be designed and experienced. It will then apply one theory, semiotics, to analyze a specic artifact located in public common areas of Abu Dhabi city, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Here government-inuenced signage reinforcing Emirati identity is integrated into people’s everyday patterns of living. Particular contexts of the UAE as a 40-year-old fast-developing nation bounded by Islam, authoritarian rule, tribal cultural norms, and a majority expatriate population are considered. Applying semiotics to visual communication as a sense-making tool oers a way to look at how an image structures thought, and how it moves the viewer to nd some unity and meaning.