The rise of ‘#’ Hashtag

I am fascinated with how four lines, that once denoted a number now symbolise a campaign, a protest, a call to action. The # hashtag has become a noun, a verb that can be conjugated, an adjective or adverb that adds meaning, a polarising political slogan, a viral social movement – and an indication of brand engagement.

Yes, # hashtags, serve a function – aiding topic search on social media – but at Semple we also use hashtags to add brand personality. When we posted a story about my new design, a Semple Palace Coat with #semplepalacecoat on social media platforms people replied with phrases such as ‘Sempley Stunning’ or ‘Semple Fabulous.’ This follower-generated content was amusing: it gave permission for people to play with my brand name.  

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Many years ago I studied for a Masters in Semiotics at a well-known British university. Semiotics, the science of signs, is a fascinating intellectual pursuit that looks for meaning in every day objects. Today, businesses ask me to give a perspective from a semioticians point of view. I have an acute ability to observe people, notice their patterns of behaviour, review documents analysing the use of language, remembering relevant details and presenting insights. I can sometimes see patterns where others just cannot.

When people who can’t make sense of me ask how do I run a bespoke womenswear business in the heart of Covent Garden, London, work in the British legal justice system and advise global FTSE 100 companies on leadership development, I say it’s because I have an attention to detail. I am meticulous, painstaking in my research, careful in my decisions, precise. I’m the sort of person that notices LinkedIn ‘likes’ and social media engagement and I say ‘thank you’ privately.

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I guess the # is now viewed as a shorthand that does not require much explanation and there lies the challenge. It’s a discussion for another time. For now, please note that at Semple we use  # with detail.