2000px-Anishinabe.svgWhile branding has a history tied to Madison Avenue, I recently realized that its roots go back much further.

A short time ago I had the privilege to hear First Nation Lakota tribe member Sadie Red Wing at an AIGA event.  She talked about how American Indians face identity challenges.  The range of difficulties from the lack of uniquely identifying its 566 tribes, to the lack of an alphabet that accurately communicates the history of the indigenous people.

Today with social media, brands rely on storytelling, no different than stories that are shared from generation to generation by tribal leaders.  Other aspects that are similar are the use of icons to communicate.  The resent use of infographic’s roots can be traced to tribe iconography that dates back thousands of years through the use of pictograms found in ancient dwellings. These drawing created stories without the use of an alphabet. They generated a platform or manifesto for tribes to differentiate themselves from others as well as position them within the First Nations hierarchy, no different than brands of today defining their position within a marketplace.

American residents also had a naming structure for themselves that created their personal identity no different than how personal brands are developed today.  Like Sadie Redwing’s tribal name “Her Shawl is Yellow”, it helps to define her as a person as well her place within her tribe, much like the naming architecture developed by businesses today to define products and sub-brands within a brand structure.

As you can see the development of brands is really nothing new, we just need to look at history to understand how it can be used.

To learn more about the work Sadie is doing to help First Nation tribes define themselves as well as develop tools for indigenous tribes and foster design as a communication tool visit her website at sadieredwing.com.