• Scott Sinclair

The power of persuasion using symbols and logos.

Updated: Jan 16

Symbols can encapsulate an entire movement, Inspire, motivate and create a sense of belonging. Like a flag, banner or badge of honour, they represent the tribe. A symbol is one of the most important tools in a brands armoury. Its power can be pervasive and say more than a thousand words.

Image by Nick Fewings


For those old enough to remember the end of the eighties there was a brief and culturally powerful musical movement called Acid House. This musical phenomenon was a fusion of Detroit Techno, Chicago house music and the Balearic house which paved the way for modern electronic music we know and love today.

Like all great musical movements, they normally work in conjunction with art or graphics in some shape or form. The smiley face – everyone has seen it right?! That friendly little yellow symbol was synonymous with Acid House. I remember being 16 years old in my last year at school. I went on a shopping trip to London one Saturday and bought loads of acid house badges in Carnaby Street. With a collection of vinyl and my army jacket adorned with a couple of smiley badges I thought I was the bee's knees when I returned to school the following Monday!

I was obsessed with this little logo. Not only because it was the emblem for my favourite type of music at the time but because primarily it was simplistic, bright, emotive and represented anti-establishment fun. I later learned that the smiley symbol itself was originally created in 1963 by graphic designer Harvey Ross Ball who created the symbol for the State Mutual Life Assurance Company (now Allmerica Financial Corporation) in Worcester, Massachusetts. I guess he would have never imagined the logo being used for a drug-fuelled musical movement.

Two fingers

Like all great symbols, simplicity is key. Perhaps because I am familiar with the logo from a musical movement I am biased – but I really don't think it was right for its intended purpose. Maybe things were different back in 1963 and this type of graphical execution was fitting for a State Mutual Life Assurance Company?

However, when it came to the Acid House movement it was perfect. The bright yellow symbolised 'youth' vibrance, energy and love. The simple linework for the mouth and deep black eyes created a never-ending smile. The overall effect was innocent – and that's what made it great, alluring and evocative. However, the Acid House scene wasn't innocent. It was a lawbreaking movement that was drug-fuelled. The drug of choice was either acid but mainly ecstasy or MDMA as it is now known. And that's the main reason this cheeky little symbol worked so well. It symbolised being off your face with that big cheeky grin to one audience and to authority it said we're innocent in a subliminal way as it stuck two metaphorical fingers up to the establishment.

Tribal power

This is just one example of how powerful a symbol can be and how it can work on many levels. A symbol like photography can say a thousand words. Take Liverpool FC or Swindon Robins for example. My son is mad about Liverpool. At the age of 6, he has a duvet cover, curtains and numerous football kits with Liverpool FC's logo all over it. I witnessed the power of symbol when I took him and a few friends to Swindon Town on Saturday for his 6th birthday. I experienced first hand the power of that symbol as the tribe, one fan after another waved scarfs in the air as the Swindon's robin pranced up and down the side of the pitch.

We speak your language

Based 8 miles North of Swindon Source Creative Agency is perfectly situated between Cheltenham, Bristol, and Cirencester at the heart of the Cotswolds. We're not fuelled by acid or ecstasy but we're fuelled by a passion to create stunning creative campaigns across multiple channels and applications.

We understand the power of the symbol, how to tap into the tribe mentality driving home that award-winning narrative that resonates with customers and drives sales. We also understand how to motivate and inspire sales staff through internal communications and sales incentive campaigns.

At Source, we pride ourselves on having that BIG creative agency thinking minus the egos. We have a wealth of experience in Creative Ideation, Branding, Graphic Design, Websites, Digital and Print Design. We are versatile, adept and more importantly not only do we speak your language, but we also listen.

If you would like to take your creativity to the next level then get in touch today.

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