BT, BP, BA. Whenever there’s a new identity the media likes to turn
it into a crisis.
This stems from a deep-rooted Puritanism that’s the enemy of visual
expression, combined with a natural hostility to change.
Other objections are that it’s unnecessary, a waste of money and a
corporate indulgence. So when word got out that the Red Cross was
considering a change of identity the media attacked on all fronts.
Apart from the natural prejudices of the media, there is the
understandable view that, of all identities, this one should be
sacrosanct. After all, the name is the symbol. The symbol is the name.
And through two world wars and many other conflicts lives have depended
on its easy recognition.
As I understand it, this is the story: The Red Cross was set up by a
Swiss banker in 1863 and has had a dual identity since 1876 when it
introduced an Islamic equivalent, the red crescent. This was because the
red cross is perceived by Muslims as a symbol of Christianity rather
that neutrality - despite the fact that the red cross owes its origins
to the Swiss flag.
Now the Red Cross is planning a conference in Madrid in November to
discuss an additional third symbol - one that has neither a Christian
nor Muslim connotation.
The move stems from experience in Bosnia where neither the cross nor the
crescent provided protection for aid workers and the injured from
Christian Serbs and Muslim Bosnians.
Whether the Red Cross is right or wrong to think that a hexagon or a
triangle will suddenly provide protection, they walked straight into
media gunfire. They gave journalists the chance to snipe at them for
political correctness, bureaucratic muddling and cultural
They didn’t stress the fact that the red cross is one of the most
distinctive and widely-recognised symbols ever devised; that they were
planning to retain both the cross and the crescent; and that they were
simply looking into a new, additional symbol for selected use in
religious and extremist trouble spots for the sole purpose of protecting
aid workers and the injured.
Conclusion? If you’re going to get shot at by the media you need more
than a cross, crescent and/or hexagon for protection. And it helps if
you don’t supply your assailants with the ammunition.