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What is a good visual symbol that conveys strength, determination, willpower, character, conviction and perseverance?
November 27, 2010 1:06 PM   Subscribe

What is a good visual symbol that conveys strength, willpower, character, determination, conviction and perseverance?

Imagine you were building a Web site, starting a company, getting a tattoo, or creating an artwork, and you needed a visual symbol to convey these feelings to the viewer:

Strength, willpower, character, conviction and perseverance.

Ideas?

Could be anything -- but I'm looking for more than just cliches, more than just Chinese characters used for tattoos or the "play like a champion today" sign at Notre Dame.
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
A mother and child.
posted by mdonley at 1:10 PM on November 27, 2010


A bull, Taurus symbol (♉), or bulldog?
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:11 PM on November 27, 2010


Mountains. A green blade of grass growing out of a crack in asphalt.
posted by patronuscharms at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2010


Traditionally this would be a sword.

There are various animals that often symbolize those traits as well, but they're all kind of general and have varying connotations depending on their surrounding subject matter. Like, an elephant could be all of those traits, but put it in some Republican colors and you have a whole lot of baggage to go with it.

Also images like mountains, tall strong trees, basically natural images that impress their longevity upon the viewer would work, too, especially in the "conviction and perseverance" arenas.

In more abstract terms, I'd go for solid, bright, warm colors, hard angles, and a composition with forward or upward movement.
posted by Mizu at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2010


An Australasian surf crew called the "bra boys" has a hand-to-wrist handshake (pictured here: http://th264.photobucket.com/albums/ii185/marksie89/th_braboys2.gif ) which they employ because "it's the strongest handshake possible."

They have tattoo's depicting the shake as a symbol for strength and conviction, unfortunately the best shot I can find online doesn't look as great as it does in their documentary:

http://i242.photobucket.com/albums/ff34/eshayadlay/braboiz6.jpg
posted by oblio_one at 1:17 PM on November 27, 2010


A lot of things meant to convey perseverance can also be misread as "futility," but I was thinking of Atlas.
posted by Gator at 1:19 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe some kind of tool/metal type item? An anvil? Hammer?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:22 PM on November 27, 2010


In social realist style, stripped down to minimalist lines so as to not be too communist:

A burly square jawed man in a uniform with one hand on his heart, and the other holding a tool related to both the uniform and the main topic of the website/company/etc.

Also, his head should be partly translucent or cut-away so that you can see his brain, thus indicating wisdom and willpower. Perhaps with small radiating beams coming out just to highlight the force of his mind.
posted by Ahab at 1:22 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sisyphus (although that may also imply futilty to some people). Atlas. Archimedes (with the added bonus of cleverness).
posted by zanni at 1:24 PM on November 27, 2010


An anvil. And a hammer.

I'm biased. I married a former farrier. Now *that's* a job that requires strength, willpower, character, conviction and perseverance.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:25 PM on November 27, 2010


A ram. (I just put "aries" in that search to filter out trucks and computer parts; I think it conveys those qualities without necessarily being zodiacal.)
posted by frobozz at 1:28 PM on November 27, 2010


strength, determination, willpower, character, conviction and perseverance

The first thing that comes to mind is the image of the Tank Man from Tiananmen Square.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:32 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another vote for bulldog. It's the first thing which came to mind.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:34 PM on November 27, 2010


The bristlecone pine is certainly perseverant, living longer than any other known organism (probably). Plus they grow under harsh conditions, which takes strength and determination. Check out these images for character. Not a beauty queen, but this is a tree that just don't quit.
posted by Quietgal at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2010


Bristlecone pine?
posted by thebergfather at 1:37 PM on November 27, 2010


Woah, jinx!
posted by thebergfather at 1:40 PM on November 27, 2010


A tree growing in stone.
posted by sunshinesky at 1:43 PM on November 27, 2010


As mentioned above, a sword.

Or maybe better, a shield.
posted by trip and a half at 1:58 PM on November 27, 2010


An ant in combat boots planting a flag atop a mountain.

A salmon pictured in mid-arc as it ascends a waterfall.

A pen sketching a sword.

A typewriter whose keys are covered with bees.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:12 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


If strength, willpower, character, conviction, and perseverance were part of protest or desire for change, then an upraised fist might work.
posted by Houstonian at 2:45 PM on November 27, 2010


A tank.

Two or three people marching, arms linked, toward the viewer.

Castellers.

One acrobat holding another up in the air in a handstand, palm-to-palm.
posted by facetious at 2:47 PM on November 27, 2010


A beaver.
posted by carmicha at 3:19 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem in trying to convey these values is that you are competing with the branding of every sports team ever in the universe (— and nearly every political group. And every corporation or startup that ever was or ever will be).

I think it might be useful to look at "eternal" symbols and how you might use/combine/translate/rework/integrate elements or representations of them. For example, this is pretty much the perfect ready-made logo graphic for anything involving complexity yet simplicity, as well as strength, longevity, vitality, and so much more — but it's just an example of a Fibonacci spiral. "Just." I mean it's awesome . . . there's nothing more strong, full of character, etc.; it's a Truth and a Miracle, and damn beautiful.

Along these lines, did you know that the Vodafone logo is based on the idea of an ouroboros? (I only realized this recently, and then it clicked right away . . . ahhhh!) This site used to be a great place to browse all sorts of significant symbols and ideograms — scientific, cultural, religious, mathematical, metaphysical, everything. Now it seems you can only search instead of "leafing through," but you might want to look at sites and books like this. The basic concepts embodied by something like the ouroboros may not shout out Strength! Determination! (and by the way, Virility!!!) like a bull graphic, but then again you probably won't be competing against every college team, fast food restaurant, sneaker, beverage, etc. And those who believe in the collective unconscious would say that that the archetypal universal or eternal symbols are incredibly and viscerally powerful, even if we (viewers/consumers/whatever) don't necessarily understand why, or immediately consciously connect them with X-value as we would with snake/fist/flower/flame/tree etc.
posted by taz at 4:23 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A train locomotive in motion. (The little engine that could, only not cutesy-cartoony. Industrial, powerful.)
posted by ctmf at 4:49 PM on November 27, 2010


What about the arm and hammer logo? That's the first thing that came to mind.
posted by vincele at 5:05 PM on November 27, 2010


Fasces.
posted by hermitosis at 5:08 PM on November 27, 2010


A marathon finish line, or a mountain climber reaching the summit.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2010


An ant. Carrying something 10 times its size.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:34 PM on November 27, 2010


A person climbing a mountain
A square-jawed face squinting against snow/sun, maybe with hand shading the eyes
Ship in full sail with a person up in the rigging pointing toward land
Superhero, arms akimbo, feet apart, cape flying out
Person forging iron
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:34 PM on November 27, 2010


The We Can Do It poster.
posted by santaslittlehelper at 7:07 PM on November 27, 2010


If the audience is full of nerds, the Triforce.
posted by ikaruga at 1:31 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I enjoy a good scythe myself.
posted by jennyhead at 6:21 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


A rower. If you've ever rowed competitively, you know that it's a sport that combines all of the above.
posted by la_rousse at 12:18 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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