Saturday, July 30, 2011

Identity Is Often Created Through Symbols

Angus Hyland (right) and Steven Bateman edited a book called "Symbol" that just came out this year (June 2011). Symbol is a catalog of symbols, a visual dictionary of more than 1,300 images, each of which conveys different meanings to different groups, cultures and nationalities.

Hyland and Bateman packed 300 pages with a classification of symbols, grouped together in categories and sub-categories identified on the basis of their visual characteristics. For every one of the categories they provide a detailed description and several examples of how the image is applied and used.

Books about logos, trademarks and symbols are popular and plentiful in book stores and online. Hyland and Bateman's book look at symbols only, so there are no typographic and image marks like UPS; Dole; MetLife; Exxon or Coca Cola.

The 1300 symbols in the book are divided into two sections: Abstract and Representational that are subdivided into categories like stripes (fifteen examples) arrows (twenty-five) radiating/circular (twenty-three) sun (fourteen) birds (thirty-two) or hearts (twenty-two).

In the photo on right, Hyland physically demonstrates how the iconic Woolmark logo is a Moebius strip. Considered one of the best logos in the world, the Woolmark accreditation mark was designed by Italian graphic artist Francesco Saroglia, and launched in 1964 in Britain, the US, Japan, Germany, Holland and Belgium. There was a need for a single universal image for wool quality and the Woolmark symbol can only be used on products made of 100 percent wool.

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