The French Communist party is dropping the hammer and sickle as it's logo here. Designed after the Russian Revolution to show the unity between worker and peasant, it has long lost it's meaning in our world.
I used to practise drawing it on the back of school exercise books and rejoiced in it's power to frighten calmer souls than mine. But I remember my shock when I saw that the swastika had become the motif of choice for Hells Angels in the sixties. That alternative to Stalin and Hitler, the peace symbol, with its neat and simple design will be associated for me with the duffle coats, beards, and hearty pacifism of CND.
Written words are complicated symbols, but whereas an essay might reach a few thousand of those with the time and energy to read it, a symbol can be read and understood by millions in a glance. Madison Avenue understood this as it reached into our subconscious mind with it's Nike logos, and half eaten apples.
They talk about brand visibility and other such manipulative tosh, but the unfortunate truth is that it works and I remember with some shame the unbridled joy I felt, wearing my first pair of Levi jeans and its branding. Horses trying to pull apart a pair of "original riveted" jeans, another symbol of a lost and simpler world.