Through our experiences, education and environment the potential for differences in the way people see interpret symbols/logos is enormous. After a recent comment on one of my logo designs ( which I’ll get to in a minute ) I thought I’d take a look at how wildly opinions on symbols can vary.
The pentacle star is one such symbol open to various interpretations. Often associated with satanic practices, the pentacle star has had many meanings throughout history, the earliest of which dates back to around 4,000BC and is the Pagan symbol for the sacred feminine, the female half of all things.
The Swastika, made notorious in 1939 by Nazi Germany with their invasion of Poland. In western and European cultures this symbol is universally associated with one of the worst periods of modern history. Its root however are far less macabre.
Like the pentacle star, the swastika dates back to around 10,000BC. More recently, the swastika has been used in Chinese, Japanese and Hindu culture for around 3000 years and is still used today as a symbol of good fortune, blessings, luck, vitality and life.
The inverted cross is another symbol with wildly opposite meanings. To some, the inverted cross represents the rejection of Jesus, anti-Christianity and any number of other Satan related meaning.
Many Catholics on the other hand wear the mark as a sign of humility in honour of St. Peter who supposedly elected to be crucified upside down as a sign of respect for Jesus as he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same way. Not the way I’d choose to go, but hey…
Finally to the logo that prompted this post, and a little history on its origin. The above logo was designed for Donaldson’s Jewellers, a jewellery store in Coffs Harbour which specialized in rings.
John and Cheryl Donaldson are jewellers, they were referred to me by my father who is a jeweller and as you can imagine I saw a lot of jewellery during my upbringing. The stationery is printed in a metallic gold Pantone and between the lot of us we all see rings.
I recently received a comment on logo with the person in question seeing books. I must confess, during the design process books didn’t entered my mind, and presumably no one else’s.
When printed in its gold Pantone and/or on the front of the Jewellery store, making the connection to jewellery is obvious, and the graphic icon is always used alongside the company name “Donaldson’s Jewellers”.
For the purposes of this article I have not included the company name and shown only the graphic icon. Looking at it, it’s understandable that someone may see books when the logo is not viewed in full context, I wonder why I didn’t see it then… jewellery on the brain?
The first 3 examples obviously have a lot of history, if you know any other symbols with such wildly varied interpretations I’d love to know them.
What do you see? Leave a comment and let me know.