Not too many years ago, people began using ribbons to promote their causes.
We see various ribbons on cars and trucks to support our troops. There are pink ribbons to support breast cancer awareness and blue ribbons to support free speech on the Internet. Often you’ll see the same colors used by multiple groups.
I don’t know exactly how this started but it has spread like wildfire.
What’s interesting is that no company owns this “brand”. No single entity was the driving force to make the ribbon a symbol for supporting a cause. There was no ad agency, no marketing committee and no multimillion-dollar ad budget behind it with the goal of making it a worldwide brand.
Yet it has become recognized around the world. Anytime you see a ribbon like this you instantly know its purpose is to show support and create awareness for an important cause.
Why did this happen? How did a ribbon become a worldwide icon for supporting a cause?
For what it worth, here’s my opinion.
First, I think it has roots in the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” that was popular in the 70’s. (Remember Tony Orlando and Dawn?) In 1981, when the 52 American hostages finally came home from Iran, people sang the song and displayed yellow ribbons. The purpose was to show these people that America had not forgotten about them.
Because the song was so popular, the yellow ribbon as a symbol already had a large audience. By tying it to an emotionally compelling cause that affected many people, the symbol gained power.
The next time someone used a ribbon to promote awareness for their cause, it already had a presence in the minds of millions of people. And it had powerful emotional appeal.
So, it stuck. And it grew. The rest, as they say, is history.
What do you think? Was there a different reason the ribbon became such a powerful symbol? If you have some thoughts, please let me know.