Symbols are pretty powerful. That’s why brands have, or at least try to have, an instantly recognisable logo. That is preferably associated with positive messages. There are brands I like. When I see the Amazon logo I think ‘trustworthy, value’. When I see the H of Honda I think ‘reliable, precision engineering’. When I see Clarks logo I think ‘comfortable, hard wearing, mature’.
There are brands I don’t like, or have reservations about. To me, Apple means ‘control freak, extortionate’. Archos reeks of ‘cheap, nasty’. It wasn’t always so with Archos. Brand messages change. BP wasn’t always ‘pollution, oil slick, Gulf of Mexico’. It is now.
There’s one logo which is particularly powerful. It elicits particularly strong messages. Genocide and fascism being top of the list. But it still has some ‘positive’ feeling. Efficiency and unity. They are pretty overwhelmed by the former though. But context is everything. I was quite surprised to see Hitler dolls and memorabilia at several markets in Mexico City.
But the war doesn’t have the same meaning to Mexicans as it does to Europeans and their northern cousins. It’s just local context. Likewise, the Hammer and Sickle have become popular additions to fashion. The horrors of communism aren’t the same for everyone. But then, the logo isn’t worn as a show of support for communism, usually. The British flag, the Union Flag is most definitely a brand. See the logo on this page to your right.
The Union Flag isn’t a positive symbol for everyone. For millions around the world, the Union Flag is their Swaztika. It’s understandable, as the British Empire claimed, potentially, as many victims as the Nazis and Soviets combined. To a lesser extent, the Stars and Stripes is not a positive image. Just goes to show, you can’t please all the people, all the time.
The images below come from my recent trip to the Military museum in the Dorchester Keep. It’s a fascinating trip through history, culminating with a fine view from the top of the building. Well, it would have been a fine view if it hadn’t been chucking it down. The prize exhibit, amongst the many model soldiers, medals and memorabilia, was Hitler’s desk.
It was taken from the Berlin chancellery at the end of the war. It still had some of his stationery in it. He’d spent many a morning and afternoon sat at that desk, doing his thing. I touched the desk. Stuck my grubby mitts around the protective glass and gave it a good rub. Just trying to get a feel for the history. To get some context. I can’t buy from Adolf, and his products only come second hand these days. But I can touch and imagine.