A Gestalt and Semiotic Analysis of Brand Communication on Disability Inclusion: The Case of Malaysia and The US
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) underscore the United Nations’ effort in advocating disability inclusion in education and the infrastructure of member countries. Brands can also play their role by promoting disability inclusion through their brand messages. Brand messages are powerful as they advocate causes and ideals that include disability inclusion through repetitive and omnipresent messages whose ultimate goal is to influence the target audience’s behaviour. This multiple case study compared brand communication from ten brands each originating from Malaysia and the United States using Saussure's model of semiotics. It was found that Common Fate is the fundamental gestalt principle in most brands’ communication on disability inclusion of both countries and that positive nomenclature was used as the signifier that underlined the organisations' positive perception of disability inclusion.
Our moral obligation is to include persons with disabilities (PwDs) in society, and brands can play their role by promoting the universal ideal of disability inclusion. This study was borne out of the intrigue in understanding how images in brand communication have been incorporating disability inclusion. Brand messages are ubiquitous and powerful as they can set the agenda on disability inclusion by giving it appropriate prominence. The proposed multiple case study will examine brand communication from ten brands, each originating from Malaysia and the United States. The criteria used to select the brands will be vital as confirmed by the industry in the case of Malaysian brands and the highly indexed brands deemed by the Disability Equality Index (DEI) for U.S. brands. Saussure's model of semiotic analysis will be used to examine the brand messages in terms of their communication on disability inclusion. The model of semiotics to be adopted is broken into components such as a sign, signifier, and signified, thus providing us with an insight into the sign in the form of websites by brands, the dominant symbols (signifier), and the interpretations of these symbols (signified). It was found that Common Fate was the key gestalt principle found in the communication on disability inclusion by all brands in Malaysia and the US and that positive nomenclature was adopted as signifiers that promoted the organisations’ positive perception of disability inclusion.