What’s Your Totem, Baby? …

Totems WIkipedia

Totems were decorative poles placed in prominent places by Indian tribes.  

Wikipedia tells us that “totem” comes from an Ojibwe word odoodem, which means “his kinship group“.

 Totems primarily did three things:

1)   Announced the existence of the kinship group to others.

2)  Provided an idea of what the kinship group had experienced and achieved.

3)  Proclaimed their wealth and social status.


Now we do all this with company logos … or do we?

File:Coca-Cola logo.svg

Well known and recognizable in different languages because of the distinctive coloring, lettering, and general design, this is probably one of the most well-known corporate logos in the world.  Makes me want a large ice-cold Coke just by looking at it.

But what does it tell us about the culture of the organization?  Not much  …

Of course, some of us are part of very large, very complex kinship groups, like Coca-Cola.  Others of us are part of smaller groups and a few are a kinship group of one.  However, we all have others who represent our “Circle of Trust” or simply the group of people we tend to gain energy from.  That’s our modern-day kinship group.

Who’s in your kinship group?

How do you know?

What do you do to nurture this group?

Part of the beauty of totems is that they accomplished their purpose with just a few carvings on a long stick.   No drawn-out media campaigns or multi-layered marketing strategy, just a pretty pole with some symbols.

If you were going to design a totem for your kinship group…

What would your totem look like?

What events or achievements would you include?

What order would you assign to your symbols, assuming highest positions give most status?

Extra space 

Challenging my inner tribal nature in the Heartland ….


Side Note:  Carl Jung used “logos” to represent the rational side of our natures, while “eros” was the emotional and mystical side.  Forgive him for terming these two concepts as masculine (logos) and feminine (eros).    No relevance to the above – I just find this interesting:)
All images from Wikipedia page on “Totem Pole

One thought on “What’s Your Totem, Baby? …

  1. Pingback: Fashion’s Call Of The Wild: A Sociology Of Style Perspective On Animal Totem Trends « The Narcissistic Anthropologist

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