Christian Leborg
A symbol of …culture.

Culture symbols

Symbols represent culture.

What are the symbols of organisational culture? A company’s brand elements may function as a symbol of its culture. Symbols are the tactile, sensory, and felt experiences of an organisation, and they are a way to understand the culture that it represents.

Why do we need representations of our culture? To recognise a culture or the people adhering to it, people need symbols. Recognising symbols and using them as guides to action are ingrained in us. When we ourselves are part of the culture, we need to signal people around us that we are members of the culture and that we agree with its philosophy.

How are symbols and heroes being made? As elements of brand identity, the symbols of a culture can be made consciously or can appear organically. The symbols that have the most impact are chosen because they have a meaning and they represent a story that has a level of value. The symbols reflect values of the constituency.

“A symbol is something that connects the unknown with the known.” —Victor Turner, anthropologist

When do people need to use cultural symbols? The intention of symbols is to function as triggers. When the members of the culture see them, they are reminded of the meaning of the culture. Cultural symbols are used on an ongoing basis to strengthen the community and promote the values it stands for.

For whom are cultural symbols important? The members of a culture may be employees of an organisation or even visitors, vendors, suppliers, managers, and customers. People outside the culture need the symbols to recognise and relate to the culture and its members.

Where can you find cultural symbols? Symbols are generally populated on interfaces and touch points that can be exposed to a lot of people. The scenes where objects function as symbols need to be relevant to the culture.

As a designer, I am especially proud when something I have made is used as a symbol in and for a culture.

Have you created any cultural symbols?

Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg is a visual communicator and branding consultant. He specialises in building brand strategies and brand identities. Christian has worked with several specializations within visual communication as well as teaching and being an author. Christian now works on his third stint as an entrepreneur.