• Steven Heller

Designing Terrorists

More than ever terror is branded like any other business, institution, government or regime. In fact, it’s probably always been branded, just never called as such. Shields, marks, outfits—they’re all components of a branding story. For a talk I’ve given, I have selected a few such pieces. You probably know most of them, but keep in mind that even those that are illegal and punishable somehow have popularity among their followers. And with that popularity comes loyalty, and with loyalty comes a blood tie that takes—as well as leaves—blood.


So, what are vintage shields, the Jolly Roger, Runic devices, Swastikas, crosses, crosshairs, stars, bars, even the upside down tree, if not in some way emblems are used to terrorize. What does it mean when these are ideologically used to spread fear and hate? Even the heroic of these emblems suggests duality. I have not captioned them because some are ambiguous while others are obvious. You decide.


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