The Power of Symbolism

This past Remembrance Day, one simple icon encapsulated the feelings of mourning, reverence, strength, honour and, of course, remembrance across North America and Europe: the poppy.

The poppy was officially adopted by the American Legion Auxiliary and the Royal Canadian Legion in 1921 and has come to stand for all lives lost during war or military operations.

The poppy demonstrates the importance of symbolism in attracting followers to a cause. A non-profit organization needs an icon just as much as a for-profit does. For both, the challenge is to capture and sustain a brand following -- those who identify with the organization and what it stands for.

The organization's icon, whether it's the poppy, the pink ribbon for breast cancer, the daffodil for the Canadian Cancer Society, the red ribbon for HIV awareness, or the moustache for the prostate cancer awareness month of Movember, serves to crystallize that identity. It allows supporters to identify with causes and express their beliefs.

Wearing a little icon on your lapel (or on your face) goes a long way in showing the world what we believe in, and influencing those around you to support the cause and take it up themselves.