From the flags of nations to religious icons to the classical elements (earth, water, air, fire, and ether) of ancient philosophies, symbols communicate big ideas in small packages. Designers inherently recognize the power of symbols. As the world gets smaller and more interconnected, we need to be increasingly mindful of where that power comes from.
It's impossible to divorce symbols from cultures. That's why the same organization is known as the Red Cross Society in one part of the world, and the Red Crescent Society in another. Launching a brand that spans cultures and relies on symbols requires research and diligence to ensure that the symbols have similar meaning in different parts of the world. Symbols inspired by nature present less risk because they are so universal.