diabetes symbol

A Not-So-Universal Symbol: The Diabetes Blue Circle

The United Nations has given the diabetes blue circle its blessing as the universal symbol for the disease. So why aren't U.S. associations embracing it across the board?

What if you had a universal symbol for your association’s focus but not everyone was using it?

That’s the situation the International Diabetes Federation’s blue circle, adopted as the universal symbol for the disease by the United Nations in 2006, has faced in recent years.

“The purpose of the symbol is to give diabetes a common identity,” the IDF writes on its official page for the symbol. Despite this, the blue circle hasn’t become nearly as ubiquitous as other similar universal symbols, such as the AIDS ribbon.

Diabetes activist Riva Greenberg, writing for the Huffington Post, recently asked a number of organizations if they used the symbol and why. Highlights from what they said:

American Association of Diabetes Educators: AADE says rallying behind the symbol could help create a unified front in fighting the disease. “By universally accepting a symbol for diabetes, we have the beginning of developing a unified message that diabetes is serious and widespread,” explains AADE President Sandra Burke.

American Diabetes Association: The group, a member of the International Diabetes Federation, commends other organizations that use the symbol but says it focuses its energy behind its own symbol and movement, “Stop Diabetes.”

Diabetes Research Institute Foundation: While the group admits that keeping all of its marketing symbols in line is difficult at times, it has made efforts to use the international symbol in its marketing. “If we all came together to use the blue circle, I think it would benefit everyone,” said Lori Weintraub, APR, the vice president of marketing and communications for the foundation.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: While the organization says it understands the appeal of a universal symbol for diabetes and sees its value, there’s concern that it might come at the cost of the foundation’s main focus — Type 1 diabetes. “We’re very supportive of raising awareness of diabetes and the impact of the disease,” according to JDRF President and CEO Jeffrey Brewer, “but many of our constituency want to have a separate identity for Type 1.”

Does it make sense to use a common image to push your association’s goals, or is it better to focus on your own tools? Let us know in the comments.

(International Diabetes Federation)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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