What Symbols Mean to your Business
How logos, art, color and more are a reflection of your brand, culture and core values
Does your company value the role of symbols in your branding and corporate culture? How about symbols in your office space? They play an important role, the visual symbols of success, failure, confidence and most importantly, culture. Think about this: symbols are found in almost every item in an office. If you have an office full of messy desks, that’s both a symbol and a behavior. It’s part of your brand. If you have an office that is stark and free from clutter – that’s equally associated with behavior and ingrained in your brand.
Take a moment and survey your space – whether virtual or physical. Inspect your branded materials and marketing to ensure the symbolism of what you visualize to both your employees and the public reflects what you believe as a leader and as organizational culture.
It’s easy to begin with a review of the three major formats of symbolism: Logos, artwork and color.
Logos are everywhere – to the point where only the best are noticed and the rest become visual “noise.” When you consider a logo (a symbol), what comes to mind? Apple? Nike? Pepsi? It is important to consider what your logo symbolizes and communicates to the viewer (whether a customer, partner or employee). Does your logo offer certainty and expertise in your product and culture? It should. If a picture says 1,000 words, a logo makes 1,000 deals.
Our logo is “The Energy Guy.” He has outstretched arms and legs, symbolizing good health and vitality – energy. This is also important since our most commonly used treatments include radiofrequency (energy) and laser (heat) energy. And what is given back to the patients is their ability to be active. Our “Energy Guy” is tucked between four diamonds which symbolize our four greatest areas of expertise: Vein health, arterial health, practice management and diagnostics. Everything about our logo symbolizes our mission, vision and values.
What do you have hanging in your office?
What is behind closed doors (private meeting spaces and offices) versus common areas (break rooms and open work areas) versus public spaces (lobbies, conference rooms and building entrances and exteriors)?
In all of these applications, art sets the mood – both for how people communicate as well as how they behave. Do you have power art? Soothing art? Folksy art?
All of our clinic locations have the same beautiful canvas sunset photo taken by Colorado aerial photographer, John Wark. The photo has the Wet Mountains on the horizon with contrails crisscrossing the sky like veins – with the whispers of white clouds disappearing behind airplanes as they fly toward their destination.
The photo symbolizes our treatments and the disappearing veins, as well as the patient moving toward a healthier, happier future. This photo also happens to be the view west from our former home in Pueblo – a beautiful sunset we came home to every day earlier in our lives and one we want to share with all of our colleagues, employees and patients.
Our offices also have local community photos, artwork by local artists and many Colorado western-themed pieces. In our headquarters, we have our favorite colorful cow, Bessie. She’s a canvas painting hanging in our entryway – symbolizing the American West, our “git r’done” grit. Her colors bring people together and the look in her eyes emotes gentleness, nurturing and kindness — all core values we hold.
All of our corporate awards, recognitions and newspaper clippings also hang in our headquarters, serving as the symbol that we are one team.
Color is tremendously important. Our headquarters has lime green and white walls with green chairs and accents. Although we inherited this color scheme, it symbolizes energy, fun and creativity – all characteristics we desire from our administrative staff. Our clinics are different. The patient care clinics offer muted colors of green and lavender, crème and sand – all colors that symbolize calm, relaxation and healing. Some patients ask to come back just to sit quietly in our waiting area lounge because it’s so quiet and relaxing. This is mission-accomplished in terms of color symbolism.
At our annual company awards gala, we gave each award winner a beautiful bamboo plant in addition to their recognition. Of course, it is more than a plant.
- Bamboo is the symbol of good luck!
- Be flexible. Bamboo is very flexible but deeply rooted. It can bend and flex without breaking.
- Strength in size. Though it may look small, it is incredibly strong and resilient. It can withstand extremes in temperature and location – from heat to heavy snow – from thick forests to rocky crags. Its durability can exceed most woods and even the heaviest of building materials like brick, concrete and even steel. You don’t need to be big to be strong.
- Don’t complicate it. Bamboo is a natural resource that is simple to process. It is naturally ready to be made or molded into whatever is needed – food, textiles, building material, art, etc. There are thousands of uses for bamboo.
- Hold the power to spring back. Even under the weight of heavy snows and torrential rains, a bamboo plant can shake it off and stretch upward to the sun, toward growth.
- Hollow does not mean empty. A bamboo stalk is actually hollow – ready and waiting to be filled with water. Like bamboo, we should be ready to fill our core with knowledge and goodness – and not fill it with negativity or judgment. There is a famous quote about this, “One cannot fill a cup that is already full.” How can you learn, if you think you already know it all?
- Grow. Some species of bamboo can grow 36 inches in just 24 hours. With upward growth as the goal, bamboo always finds a way up.
Choose your symbols wisely and celebrate them. Teach them. And make them visible. Recognize that everything about your company and your brand comes down to symbols – they reflect your mission, vision and values. Start with a small bamboo plant in your office and allow your skill, luck and resilience to grow.