Constructing Symbols and Collective Identity

March 26, 2015Comments Off on Constructing Symbols and Collective Identity

Trace the history of almost any flag.

Clearly the colours and design weren’t put together by accident. They reflect something about the country’s history and its members. The challenge isn’t to create a cool design, but to accurately reflect the history of those the flag represents.

At our SPRINT USA workshop, I asked all 20 groups of 5 people to design themselves a flag. It was a difficult assignment. They have a blank page and four members they've just met.

Most groups resorted to something funny, it's the safe option. 

Symbols help create a sense of collective identity. The best symbols reflect the history of the group. It's hard to do a symbol at the beginning, because it has nothing about the group history to reflect. Far better to wait a year or so and then introduce symbols which best reflect the history of the group. 

Next time we’ll do a flag at the end. I suspect even with a day’s history they’ll be able to put together a flag much easier. We can even let members offer their ideas and vote on them too. 

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