While on a recent visit to the Apple Store I had a sudden realization. As I looked carefully around the store at all the signs on the walls and all the iPads and iPhones buzzing and computer monitors and even the big inset televisions on the back wall at the Genius bar I discovered that not one time and in no visible place was written the word Apple. Yet everything in the place, from floor to ceiling to every able bodied blue shirt wearing devotee all screamed Apple.
How does that happen? It’s their symbol.
Sure, we can chalk it all up to the science of brilliant branding and so forth I think there’s something much deeper at work.
Symbols, in saying nothing, say more than words ever could. The word “Apple” is quite limited in what it can do. Go into a room of strangers and simply speak the word, “Apple” and people will not know if you are referring to fruit or a computer or pie or sauce or. . . .
With that same group, say nothing but simply brandish the symbol and you’ve spoken volumes.
Not all symbols do this. When a symbol gains the power to convey an entire world of meaning that can be shared among many without words it has moved into the rarified air of “sign” status. To one degree or another it becomes iconic. In a powerful but ultimately limited way, Apple has done this.
It’s interesting that the alternate world of computers has gone in the opposite direction. Not only is there no iconic sign, there isn’t even a word. They have allowed themselves to be reduced to a couple of letters: PC.
There is an intense analogy here with respect to words and signs and the way God works in and through Jesus Christ. I’d love it if you would “flesh” that out with me.