June 1998


From flags to logos

Column by Jali Wahlsten

Jalimv.jpg (5008 bytes)It was recently announced that our national airline Finnair would replace its Finnish flag with Finnair’s corporate symbol on the livery of their aircraft. Most likely a significant aesthetic improvement, but also an opportunity for populist criticism from the tabloid media. Of all national symbols the flag is the most emotional.

So, let me get emotional with flags. Of all the flags, the ugliest and most disgusting is the EU flag. In the late 80s and early 90s there was -- at least in Finland -- a sad and short-lived Euro-fad, which is something that we’d rather forget. Are there still people out there who would stick an EU flag on the rear of their car?

The EU flag won’t survive, but it would be very interesting to see how national flags will cope with the future. Today’s youth has matured in a jungle of logos. Nike, Ikea, Nokia and the like will make sure that your relationship with them will last. Sometimes these relationships become so deep and emotional that some people want to show their affection by tattooing the "loved one's" logo on their ankle or other parts of the body. That’s what I would call total commitment to brand values.

When the global brand values become your values, we are well on our way from flags to logos. Maybe some of us will live long enough to take our grandchildren to ethnographic museums to see historical national flags from the 20th century. It would make a nice colourful display.

See also:

Global strategies challenge national labelling, (June 1998)

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