Abstract The use of graphical representations of objects for their visualisation on computer screens is becoming increasingly common, as much in e-commerce as in the product design process. In this context, the reliability of the type of representation used to transmit the physical or functional features of the objects to the viewers is vital. In the case of products with a great symbolic value, the representation format must also be capable of arousing (as much as possible) in the user the same psychological feeling, the same emotions that the real product induces. This is of crucial importance in mature markets with a large variety of products that address the same need, because in such markets the purchase decision can depend on the user's perception of the object. The aim of the present work is to determine, by means of a case study, how different ways of representing a product can affect the ability to transmit the product's symbolic value to the observer. The perception associated to a computer loudspeaker and four different ways of graphically representing it, namely photography, static infographic image, three-dimensional navigable model and three-dimensional navigable stereographic model, have been analysed using the Differential Semantics Method. If the results of the real product are compared against the different types of representation, it can be observed that the representation mode has a significant influence when transmitting the concepts that compose the product semantic space. These differences are more significant in static representations than in dynamic or interactive ones. Nevertheless, there is a majority of concepts that the product is able to transmit in the same way independently of the type of representation, so the decision to use more advanced representation models will rather depend on the application, the type of product and the firm's expectations. Relevance to industry Knowledge about the possible limitations of product representations to effectively transmit the message intended by designers is important in the early phases of product design projects, as well as in marketing and sales strategies, e-commerce planning and website design.