Friday, October 5, 2012

The pigeons in my pocket

I was wrong when I thought that the only pictures that I kept in my wallet were of my wife. Two days ago I discovered two whole 3D holograms of a flying dove on the back side of my VISA cards. I've been using Visa credit card for more than one year and I hadn't noticed this little holographic image. The following days I enjoyed asking my friends if they had unexpected birds in their pockets. It was very funny to see their surprise reactions when they saw the dove flying accross their credit cards.

What I see in this collection is a flock of doves flying in the same direction.

After that, I wondered if this was the only pigeon/dove-related symbol to be found on common products, or if more could be found. After some searching, I discovered that many other companies also employ pigeon/dove representations for their logos. This is the summary of my research.

A Beauty with a dove, example of harmless peaceful dove
Firstly, it is interesting to observe that using a pigeon/dove as a symbol is a difficult tradeoff. On one hand, pigeons are hated by many people, but on the other, for many other people they have a great social -and emotional- role. In both cases they exhibit an interesting property: pigeons and doves populate everywhere on Earth, except for ultra cold or hot environments (the driest areas of the Sahara Desert, Antarctica and the Arctic), thus everybody, from almost every part of the world, recognizes them. This means that using a pigeon/dove provides an easy-to-recognize, pancultural symbol.  When you combine this idea, with the innocent appearance of an angelic bird, you get a very powerful marketing tool that can be efficiently exploited to diffuse your company's image. Note that the dove is commmonly used as a symbolic representation of peace and calmness. Pigeons are employed for communitation as homing pigeons. In this case, they are used to conceptually represent speed and reliability in a courier service.

One bizarre example of dove logo is the 2012 plane design of British Airways. The idea was to paint the complete plane like a huge dove and use it for celebrating the London 2012 Olympics. According to the logo designer, a dove was chosen because it represents the symbol of peace and social unity, and because they were also used in previous Olympic Games ceremonies. Here is a picture of the pigeonized airplane:

It is very interesting to see the details of the cockpit and the engine. I can't say that it looks like a dove. I would say that it seems more like a feathered suppository.

Another good example is the personal care brand Dove. This company is responsible for introducing one or multiple doves in many houses.  It is a good example of how, a peaceful and calm icon can induce the custumers to buy a given product brand.
In the figure below be can see other dove-related logos. We can see (from left to right) double-dove, a couple of  loving doves that are probably going to have an accident because they are too interested in each other and don't pay attention to their flight path; in the centre we have a bird that doesn't look like an actual dove; and to the right a more abstracted dove representation, which is influenced by the peace symbol.
Columbus, a bicycle company, presents a dove with a confusing name. It is not a Columbidae (the pigeon and dove bird family), but the Latin version of the company founder's surname. I remark on this logo because it is one of my favorites.

Moving onto regular pigeons, here I summarise several logos including (from left to right and top to bottom): ePigeon,  an instant communication company, Pigeon, a baby care product firm which actually doesn't use a pigeon logo but its name, Pigeon VoIP, a telephony service of an Indian Telecom company and Pigeon, a Korean a manufacturer of household products.
All these symbols represent pigeons in a very schematic way, showing the silhouette or a simple representation of a flying bird. If we actually want to see pigeons in all their splendour we have to see more specialised sources from people that not only want to employ these animals but they actually love them.

So now, as a final consideration, let me ask you: how many pigeons do you have?

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