It’s unadorned. “It’s just a hat,” you’d think, if you saw it in the wild.
If you saw it in a museum, surrounded by other items, you might think it was just another dead person’s hat. You’d be okay in thinking that. It’s no different from that Monopoly guy’s hat. Or the hat of any businessman from the late 1800s.
Even if it was labeled “Abraham Lincoln’s Hat,” you’d probably only give it a passing glance. Your eyes, distracted by everything else, would fail to grasp the importance.
But it IS important. This is Abraham Lincoln’s hat. Abraham Lincoln. Yes. THAT Abraham Lincoln.
You place it on a pedestal. It begins to stand out.
You devote the hallway leading up to it to spelling out the importance of Abraham Lincoln. It begins to gain context.
You show images of Abraham Lincoln wearing the hat. It begins to develop its own history.
Finally, you light it, dramatically, handing out a lasting image to whoever walks by.
It goes from being just a hat to being Abraham Lincoln’s Hat. Capitalized. Important. Worth Looking At.
And, in that time, nothing has changed outside of how you presented it. You took something ordinary – because, let’s be honest, it’s still just a hat, though most certainly a hat worn by a famous President – and provided the context, visual cues and legend that can only be assigned to something worth remembering.
Taking the ordinary and making it beautiful. That’s why storytelling is important. Why graphic design is important. Why creativity is important.
“It’s just a hat.”
No. This is Abraham Lincoln’s hat. Pretty impressive, huh?
(Originally posted at Black Marks on Wood Pulp.)