Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Swastika: a great logo for terrible people

This post will not contain any images of Nazi's, their emblem or anything to that visual cue—but I think my point is already half proved how strong of an icon the Swastika is because you can already picture it in your head.

Science fiction Hitler
It's not a safe subject to touch on, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while—I mean it's hard to speak in favour of anything that involved our history some mere 70 years ago. I'm not going to explain how I disagree with the atrocities of past nor will I apologise for my point of view; I realise that for many people the Swastika will stand for everything they hate and every rational fear that shakes their bones, but it is something that existed, and should we spend the rest of the future pretending it didn't, then will will only be doomed to repeat ourselves.

Firstly, the Swastika as we know it is little more than rather clever plagiarism; it certainly wasn't a great idea of the German empire and the facist camp so believed. It's roots are thousands of years before Hitler got rejected from art school, used as symbol for good fortune in and around Hindu and Buddhist sacred spaces. With this meaning, it's no wonder it was idealised through bastardisation into the sharp, powerful symbol for a race striving for purity and exuberant fortune.

If you can get your brain based colouring pencils out, we can now explore what makes this twisted cross so imposing. Let's start with it's blood red outer circle, mathematically perfect in proportion, housing the inner blade sharp edges of the cross. With each arm extending to a strict 90 degree angle, turning to point their razor edges at the encompassing blood stained circular housing. Ironically, the similarities between this can the Japanese flag drew clear when the two fought under the banner of the Axis, flying this emblem of hate into the eyes of violent history.

As much as I hate it's existence, it's undoubtably a great logo, burning your skin and boiling your blood with the power it expels from it's weight of ignorance and blind hatred. It's arguable that is power and stance as a 'great' logo comes from the fear it demanded, whereas if the German empire had fallen on it's face before it could take it's baby steps into the wrong side of the history books, it would instead be seen as the sign of the failed and stupid. I think if we just look at how it's constructed, it'd be a hard battle to convince otherwise that the strict, harsh angles denote anything other than strong design, thrusting it into comparison with the modern heavyweights of iconic logo design.

I write about this because I find that even today, with our developed society that expels the ideology of cultural racism and genetic purity, this once loved icon is still gripping people with fear for where it once stood. Perhaps you wouldn't shriek to see it in a museum but say you visited a friends house and it hung upon their living room wall; then think how you'd feel. As we hold such value with logos of brands it's not surprising we imbue such fear into this twisted logo, but my thoughts are that we shouldn't allow it such power.

As someone that develops branding and logo for my chosen profession, I see the value and worth in the logo, the icon. But I don't believe it should ever be raised to the levels that we have allowed them to; thrusting them above our heads into god-like status, praising them with greater worth than that of an owned image should be allowed. Though, we have also demonised these shapes into great monsters – such as the swastika – allowing them to hurt us and scare us into the emotions that their creators wanted us to feel. No shape, no logo and no branding should be allowed this status.

Yes, the Swastika was a great logo because it did (and still does) exactly what it was created to do. It was created to spit at the past, bastardise the present and scare the future, and we stand here today allowing it to do so. Perhaps if we (as humans) can create something so wrong it can hold 'monster under the bed' like fear for our future generations, then we could also make something for good, inspiring and embracing our future; but I don't think we've cracked it yet. 

p.s. Nazi's suck.


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