Why designers love the coat of arms of Ukraine
Distinctive, but not unique
We suggest you consider the success of Trident from a design point of view. We are interested in the state coat of arms, because it is the flag of Ukraine has a classic, as for a flag, design, but the Ukrainian Trident immediately catches the eye, because it does not look like typical heraldry our neighbors
However, there is a nuance - the heraldry of countries does not always correspond to the principles of a “good logo”, because historically it is intended for slightly different purposes. In Ukraine, it turned out that after the declaration of independence, the coat of arms gained great importance in the social and political life of the country, and also became famous as a perfect symbol: recognizable, emotional, defiant and quite simple, because his you can even show with three fingers.
You have probably heard various versions of the origin of the Trident sign itself, so we suggest bypassing the stories of hoary antiquity. Instead, we want to find out what characteristics made Trident successful and what is its unique role in design system of the country. By the way, you can see a trident even in geographically distant cultures.
Room for interpretation
Let’s immediately look into the 20th century - the Trident did not have a single correct interpretation even during the times of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, but he managed to become a universal symbol that united Ukrainians. This is due to the fact that the meaning of the symbol, though really comes from ancient times, but at the same time it is flexible, able to be updated.
Not even Mykhailo Hrushevsky himself, the man whose decision made us have this extremely stylish state coat of arms, was not there sure of what the Trident symbolizes.
Ескізи герба УНР від Василя Кричевського, 1918 рік
“Logotyping” of the Trident?
Because in the recent history of Ukraine, the Trident went beyond purely state use and became a “people’s” symbol, people reproduce it with their own hands on numerous media, rethink, interpret the design in different ways. As a result, the Trident acquired variability, elsewhere it began to be used as an element of composition or even decoration.
It is possible to argue about whether, for example, it is worth marking with state symbols objects that are not related to the activities of the state, however, this process has been occurring naturally for many years. That is why some designers offer to take matters into their own hands hands and organize the so-called “logotype” of the Trident.
This year, the co-founder of the Design4Ukraine association Yaroslav Belinsky called for the creation of a new design system of Ukraine, the central the place in which the Trident will occupy as a universal sign for everything produced in Ukraine. This caused heated discussions in the creative community as to where the line lies between appropriate use of the national coat of arms and bad taste.
Freedom must have style
Symbols obviously have a powerful communication function, especially when interacting with a mass audience. The most famous in the world symbols have the following features: intuitiveness combined with mystery, recognizability, brevity, ease of reproduction. The vast majority of them are so simple that a child can draw them without difficulty, but there is also depth, which grabs attention.
The trident has become so common in the everyday life of Ukrainians that it seems as if the popularity of state heraldry is commonplace matter in a person’s life. In fact, it is a great fortune to have a powerful coat of arms, with design elegance and brevity which can compete in Europe except the coat of arms of Switzerland. The latter, however, expresses much less militancy.
It is also worth mentioning the unpleasant story with Instagram - a few months ago, the social network suddenly began to block photos with the Trident. which caused righteous indignation among Ukrainians. No official explanation from Meta has been released, but the problem is likely consisted either in numerous complaints from Russian users or in biased moderation. Anyway, Trident again proved that he is an extremely powerful symbol that continues to annoy the enemies of Ukraine with his appearance alone.
Today, the Trident has become almost as recognizable in the world as the flag of Ukraine. Besides, our state is more and more frequent uses the Trident in visual communications directed abroad, because for many foreigners this symbol is associated with Ukrainian indomitability and thirst for freedom.
What Ukrainian designers say
In order to fully understand the reasons for Trizub’s success, Telegraf.Design spoke with Ukrainian designers who worked with Ukrainian identity, territorial branding or researched state symbols. Here’s what they said about the designer perfection of the Trident, and not only that.
Dmytro Bulanov is the founder of Dmytro Bulanov creative büro, co-author of the tourist brand identity of different regions of Ukraine
The trident is a simple symbol, but it doesn’t have to be minimalist like, say, the coat of arms of Switzerland. He embodies strength, struggle, freedom is all that we feel now. Of course, there is an element of habituation — when people constantly see government symbols, they might get bored of it. Before, I also felt that I got used to the Trident, but later I realized that it is cool and unique a symbol that is not similar to the symbols of other states.
“Logotyping” of the Trident is an organic thing. This is great, because it shows that more and more Ukrainians are ceasing to be colonized by the Little Russians, they are aware of their belonging to our free state and want to identify with it. Therefore, people wear this symbol on themselves, even make a tattoo with the Trident, and this is also a very cool trend.
The trident should be used to mark our export products. For this, systematization must be carried out use of the Trident, create guidelines, rules. Now we have complete chaos in this regard, there is no single state identities, and only successful cases of identities of individual institutions. By the way, the Swiss and Canadians actively use their state ones symbols for marking, in particular, their products, and there are many such examples.
I believe that the Trident should be a central element in the identity of Ukraine. First of all, of course, it is intended for the state institutions, they must use a single unified version of the Trident. We also need to develop a simplified icon of the Trident, which will be useful for reproduction in small sizes. There is a real lack of a common system, and now the issue is even greater relevant for obvious reasons.
Oleksandra Korchevska-Tsekhosh is a designer, the author of the “Visual Communications” course at the Ukrainian Catholic University
The trident can be realized through different volumes and textures, it is extremely plastic and at the same time its shape balances well between the volumes of free and filled space. If we “translate” the visual vocabulary of the Trident, then it can be built with the help of geometric figures (circles, triangles, squares), and at the same time it will not lose its recognizability. You can use a trident do not complete and even add something to it - it will still be a Trident.
However, the large number of actions that can be done with the Trident also creates problems. In particular, when region identifiers are used Trident, replacing the regional context with the national context, which leads to confusion.
New design variations of the Trident also appear thanks to the boom in patriotic merch. Jewelry, eco-bags, T-shirts, lighters, flags with the Trident - this allows some designers to “take on a big brand”. The desire to surround oneself insatiably Tridents, however, are logical after decades of dissidence, but this distorts its value.
It is also bad when the chevrons with the Trident resemble state-approved decorations intended for other formations or authorities, that is, there is a loss of distinguishing qualities. That is why in the projects for local initiatives that take place in the Regional State Administration or other structures, there should always be so-called “spellcheckers”: people who know the identities of signs, awards, documentation, and will help avoid confusion. Detailed guides on the use of state symbols should be made and their use should be limited those of its variants, which are intended for special honors.
The trident must be protected from excessive use and the corresponding DSTU (State Standards of Ukraine) and drawings must be approved. There is a law that prohibits the use of elements of Ukrainian national identity in trademarks and logos, but this is an insufficient level of protection for a sign that is exposed to excessive copying and duplication. It would be good to leave one protected option for use in government identification without prohibiting the sale of patriotic merchandise.
The national coat of arms is currently undergoing a stage of desacralization, and there is a high risk that the use of the Trident will turn into a cargo cult. This will distort perception, because thanks to the presence of the Trident, a certain visual will be considered “pro-Ukrainian and more positive.”Besides, when you see a million versions of the Trident on the clothes of Ukrainians during national celebrations, it starts to look general noise, like an imitation of embroidery instead of the real tradition of embroidered clothes.
Yaroslav Belinsky, co-founder of the Design4Ukraine association, author of the initiative of the new design system of Ukraine
A good symbol is remembered the first time. There are a lot of coats of arms of many other countries, where you just change the color and you can’t tell, where is whose eagle There is no such problem with the Trident.
There is an opinion that state symbols should not be touched, turned into logos and pogots. But why? What prevents you from making a coat of arms any sign or perform stylization? If the designer stops because of any criticism, the decisions will not always be successful. The most famous commercial brandings of Ukraine have always received hate. Everything was on fire in social networks for a few weeks, and then people get used to it.
If a symbol becomes so popular that it lives its own life and gives rise to interpretations, that’s great, it means that the symbol is “alive”. There are many city logos that only local authorities know about. With Trident, the situation is completely opposite. Therefore, I am glad that this symbol has become popular. We also need to make the Trident more recognizable abroad. Position him as a symbol of what we are now fighting for.
People will still use the symbols they like, there is no point in forbidding anyone to reproduce or interpret them state coat of arms. Ukrainians are very individualistic, the more something is forbidden to them, the more they will do it.
Instead, a single design system for the unification of the state style should be created in Ukraine. The Constitution does not have it now even clear rules for the use of the Trident or national colors. It is enough to look at the documents to notice that each ministry depicts the Trident in its own way. If we take as an example the work of the design system in Germany, Great Britain, In Switzerland, everything is agreed there, which works well for the image.
Visual identity is an external manifestation of what is happening inside the state. If everything in a person’s life is in order, it will look neat. When we see the chaos in the design system of Ukraine, and at every international event we are represented otherwise, certain questions arise. Streamlining the design system would be a very good message for abroad.