This essay uses semiotics and complexity theory to examine processes of sign formation. Simplicity and complexity, construed as differences in configuration of elements, are then applied to sign formation. Sign formation is understood as the effort of one entity to gain the attention of another entity. Examples such as signs of wild animals also show that the signifying functions of signs always happen in time. Simplification of commercial signs can be interpreted as the use of lowest common denominators in human transactions. Analysis of interaction between large numbers of humans and behaviour shows simplification of sign formation and illuminates social-cultural and political processes including the dynamics of violence.