Skull and Crossbones as a Branding Tool

Schicker Artikel in der NYT über die Piratenflagge und Skull'n'Bones als Branding-Tool.

The key to its success was clarity of meaning, which is an essential element in every effective branding project, and any other form of communication design. Just as Nike’s “swoosh” logo makes us think of speed and the horse-drawn carriage in Hermès’s identity screams posh, the sight of a skull and crossbones on a ship’s flag signaled one thing to 18th-century sailors like those on the Poole or the merchant vessels they were protecting: terror.

You may be wondering why swashbuckling outlaws like 18th-century pirates, most of whom lived in fear of capture, should have chosen to identify their ships with such distinctive motifs. The answer lies in the economics of piracy.

“What pirates wanted was profit, and to make it in the least costly way without wasting time and ammunition attacking a ship and taking lots of casualties,” said Tom Wareham, curator of maritime history at the Museum of London Docklands. “If they terrorized a ship on approach, they could board it, get what they wanted with minimum trouble and walk off with the proceeds.”

Skull and Crossbones as Branding Tool