Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Symbols, Signatures, and Signs

An artist signing his painting.
Advertisers use symbolism to encourage viewers to relate to their products and help them remember. The purpose of these symbols is to “endear” the item or store to potential buyers. It seems to be working.

Who can forget Apple’s logo: the apple with the bite taken out of it, or Target’s red bull's eye, or McDonald’s golden arches. We look for these symbols on the highway when we want something to eat. We file these symbols away in our minds and think of them when it’s time to shop or to make a purchase.


On my morning walk, I saw a parked car with a small chrome fish on the trunk. Immediately, I recognized the owners as Christian, at least in name and desire to share their beliefs with others.

According to tradition, ancient Christians, during their persecution by the Roman Empire in the first few centuries after Christ, used the fish symbol to mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. The fish was formed from the Greek word: Ichthys. The lines for the word formed an actual fish.

According to one ancient story, when a Christian met a stranger on the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company. Current bumper-stickers and business-cards use of the fish hearkens back to this practice.

According to the Huffington Post, Religious symbols are a way to unite members of a common faith tradition, and to indicate to others the religious tradition they represent. Take their quiz and see how many symbols you can identify by clicking on the links above and below.

Artists place their signature on every painting. Some of them are unique and unlike any other. Sometimes a symbol is created that becomes that artist’s trademark; remembered and identified. Here are a few famous artists’ signatures that have become classics.

And who can forget the signs of the Zodiac. Even though many frown on the practice of using horoscopes or signs to predict life events, they are all around us and difficult to avoid. The use of these signs is condemned in the Bible, yet I’ve known many Christians who playfully peak at their daily predictions as they would read the funny papers and then quickly forget them.

Many famous people, even Presidents and their wives have been known to rely on their horoscope predictions for determining a good date or time for decision making. Personality traits are identified for each sign and almost anyone can see themselves in their birth month as we all share many human traits in common.

I am a Leo; my sign is the Lion
As a marketing ploy, having an identifiable logo or sign can promote your business. A trademark that people recognize or a name that evokes feelings of satisfaction is a real plus!