Symbols Are the Cornerstone of Human Communication

Symbols have long served to communicate what we want or how we’re feeling. They can also serve as a means to promote status. That was the function of the alligator on polo shirts in years past, and it’s the purpose of logos on running shoes today. No matter how carefully you try to spell things out, a symbol can be a faster way of expressing your message.

It’s a More Efficient Form of Communication

A logo can be more eye-catching and give people a bigger heads-up than a printed sign with text. For example, the symbol for radioactivity, a circle divided into six alternating sections of yellow and black, is easier to spot than a label marked “WARNING: RADIOACTIVE!” In addition, symbols can be easily read upside down or right side up. The Nike swoosh needs no explanation. This well-designed, internationally known symbol is part of the lexicon of athletics.

Symbols Keep Us Safe

One of the most effective symbols put to work to keep children safe is the Mr. Yuk sticker and character. After it was noted that children didn’t understand what a skull and crossbones meant, this was created in 1971 as a new method for marking poisons. The phone number for Poison Control is designed into the logo. Regardless of their age, this symbol can quickly communicate threats to kids digging around in the cupboard. Some symbols encourage us to proceed with caution and to do a little research. The NFPA 704 Diamond Label is widely used as a quick way to identify and communicate hazardous materials.

Symbols Change and Fade Over Time

During the Great Depression, vagrants who found a kind word and a meal at a home would draw a cat on the fence or gate of the household to let others know that they’d find help there. Native American tribes of the Mississippian region used a broken cross to symbolize cultural aspects important to them, including the sun and fire. This symbol has also been used by the Navajo tribe, and it was found throughout ancient India, symbolizing the Hindu god Vishnu. Unfortunately, the broken cross was later appropriated by the Nazi Party in Germany, and it has lost all other symbolic importance.

If you are trying to give a new definition to a symbol or build logo recognition, just remember that it will take time. You will need to make sure that it provides an easy reference and connection to the name and reputation of your business. Even children too young to read know that several letters in a variety of colors means Google, so if you choose to include letters in your symbol, make them memorable.

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