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February 2, 2021
On February 2, 2021, Animikii’s lead designer Mark Rutledge presented how to build an Indigenous brand to a virtual audience that spanned Canada, New Zealand, and Fiji (and over 100 degrees Fahrenheit temperature difference!). The presentation was based on Mark’s original article - “Indigenous Design: Beyond Medicine Wheels, Ox Carts, & Inukshuks” - which explores how, when, and if sacred iconography should be incorporated into graphic design.
In his talk, Mark touched on 4 different themes:
These themes frame the context of Indigenous design, with the caveat that - like all design - Indigenous design is always growing and changing. This is a reflection of Indigenous peoples, who continue to innovate design in Turtle Island and around the world.
We must be more careful when using cultural symbols. By using the feather, The infinity symbol, the Inukshuk, Medicine Wheel, or even traditional patterns in everyday life, the meaning and teachings behind these symbols are being diluted and overlooked.
A defining trait of any successful brand is its specificity; you should be able to look at a brand and understand who they are and - ideally - what they do. But, how can you explain who you are if you use iconography like the Medicine wheel which represents every aspect of life? The goal is to tell your story, stand apart from competitors, and honour who you are and where you come from.
Having a Medicine Wheel in a logo is one example that has become shorthand for “We’re an Indigenous organization.” While showcasing Indigenous leadership and ownership is important, using sacred iconography like the Medicine Wheel is not the only - or even the best - way to share your identity with your clients and partners.
To discuss pan-Indigeneity in Indigenous design, we must first be aware of what stereotypical First Nation, Métis and Inuit iconography looks like. This is any design or branding that operates under the base assumption that all Indigenous peoples are - in essence - the same. This is not a discussion on shared values, but rather a discussion on acknowledging the uniqueness of each individual Indigenous person and community.
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The full recording can be found here: INDIGI-X How to Build an Indigenous Brand: "Beyond Medicine Wheels, Ox Carts and Inukshuks”
February 2, 2021
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