Formal symbolic frameworks of well-defined groups are rich sources of associations for designers. The associations are generally well understood and accepted by the group, and this knowledge of the associations allows the designer to create very complex designs and yet not surpass the complexity threshold of the audience. Alternately, by "branding" their design through the use of elements from the symbolic framework, the designer can allow users to accept the element as "safe" without requiring that they understand it.
Branding an element has its own dangers, however. If the branding characteristics are seen to be non-integral to the element, that is the branding appears to have been done cynically to win acceptance from the user group, the user group can become offended and reject the design wholesale, and may resent the creator for the attempt.
Nothing prevents a creator from searching for resentment. Critique of a particular group or practice through playing on their symbolic system is a well-established practice.
Associations with elements in the symbolic system can take a number of forms. Associations can be with the symbol, the pattern which represents something else. They can be with the object of the symbol, the thing represented. They can be with the symbolic system as a whole. They can even be with the group represented by the symbolic system.
Document Name: tc.assoc.group.htm
Copyright (c) 1997 -- Mike Fletcher
Reproduction for other than personal use prohibited without express written permission from the author.