Monday, August 8, 2011
What makes a symbol powerful is the body of knowledge behind it. Taken out of context, a symbol is essentially without meaning. This can be seen even today in our modern world. Each year, patent offices worldwide process countless requests to patent particular symbols. Once society recognizes a symbol, it becomes a powerful tool in the world of marketing and advertising.
Graphic artists are highly paid to conceive of symbols that will resonate with people and gain the attention of the buying public. This only happens because that symbol brings to mind the whole idea of the product -- what it can do for us, how it tastes, or why we need it. Around this symbol, a product or line of products is marketed.
In the past, though, symbols were created for another reason. They were used as a means of encoding information in a way that could be conveniently remembered and recorded. In fact, this is exactly how both spoken and written language developed. Words represent objects as well as ideas. At first words were only spoken. Later, pictorial images were used to represent these words. In some cases, such as the English language, the images have become so abstracted from their original meaning that it is no longer possible to see the relationship. This is not true of the Chinese language. Its symbols can still be traced to original meanings.
The Chinese have proven themselves adept at creating highly abstract systems of symbols that encompass large bodies of knowledge. History also attests to their remarkable ability to integrate new symbols and new ideas into an existing system of thought. The Chinese system of traditional medicine, for example, is based not only on concepts and techniques arising from within their own culture, but also on ideas from many foreign lands, including India and Tibet.
** Marketing Mishap
Gerber-the leading brand in infant food, manufactured in the U.S. has a widlety known adorable Gerber baby on all its products including it's bottled baby food. However, when launching its brand overseas to Japan, due to the lack of reaserch, Gerber's marketing team failed at observing Japan's market thourougly. Gerber soon learned that products sold in Japan at supermarkets are labeled not with letters but with a photo of what is contained in the package. When Gerber baby food first hit the shelves in Japan, it was to the horror of many bewildered Japanese consumers that Gerber bottle contained baby parts. The company pulled the product off the shelves and has since then redirected their marketing team to be more multicultural.