The map of a country or region also functions as a symbol for the place. This is especially the case if all place names and geographical elements are removed from the map, leaving it as a logo. We are well used to seeing the shape of Northern Ireland used for branding.
Northern Ireland, a very familiar shape.
The scholar Benedict Anderson calls this, “map-as-logo.” He reckons such symbolic use of the shape of a state can be a rallying-point for more than just products and services. Such images may have even played an important part in the formation of nationalism, a political force that gained ground with the invention of print and the wide availability of images. “Instantly recognizable, everywhere visible, the logo-map penetrated deep into the popular imagination,” he writes. Nationalism could take shape because nations had been given shape.
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A designer at Wallpaper* magazine brought this one step further lately, creating national brands that do not rely on map shapes at all. Instead these logos use well-known products to create country brands. It is a bit of fun that nonetheless raises questions. Is nationalism a bit like brand-loyalty? Do we live our identities or are we consumers of them?
As you can see Northern Ireland did not get its own brand so I have stepped in and made one myself.