I've become accustomed to seeing the Pink Ribbon on soda cans and packages of cookies in the supermarket, but was a little stunned when I stopped by ULTA last week to pick up a jar of my favorite face cream, and discovered it packaged in a special breast-cancer-pink advocacy box! In fact, the whole store was having a Pink Ribbon promo. Wow! This is the type of consumer-grabbing campaign I'd like to see for diabetes with the Blue Circle someday...
On the flip side, I gave two talks at the Utah chapter of the American Association of Diabetes Educators last Wednesday, and out of 140+ CDEs in attendance, how many do you think were at all familiar with the Blue Circle icon? About 8 people! Eight! I kid you not.
Seriously, think about that: the key healthcare providers treating diabetes patients around the country generally have NO IDEA there even is a potentially unifying symbol for this illness. Because no one has informed them. Certainly not the big national diabetes organizations in this country...
I chatted with the Utah educators about the fact that AADE uses orange and grey as its branding colors, while JDRF uses its own acronym printed in blue. ADA uses that big red 'A' reminiscent of the Scarlet Letter, and more recently, that creepy hand with the blood drop — not exactly an image you want to ask friends and family to pin on their clothing. The fact is that NONE of their logos is universally recognized by people outside the D-community. Heck, most people within our community are confused about what color is supposed to represent us.
This is the impetus behind our current campaign lobbying ADA, AADE and JDRF to "Adopt the Blue Circle" as the universally recognized symbol that says it all.
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To be clear, this not a call for those organizations to spend countless dollars remaking or "rebranding" themselves; all we're asking is that they officially recognize the Blue Circle as "our lapel pin," and do their part to ensure that consumers across America begin to recognize it.
There are certainly some easy and cost-effective ways to make this happen.
How about these ideas, for example?
5 Ways the Top Diabetes Orgs Could Get Behind the Blue Circle
1) Display it prominently on their home pages, with an explanation of its meaning (this won't take away at all from their own PR or fundraising efforts)
2) Add Blue Circle items to their gift stores, like T-shirts, mugs, and bumper stickers (i.e. make it easy for people to get their hands on Blue Circle merchandise!)
3) Use it as the overarching symbol whenever there are multi-organization alliances, like for example the new DAA Alliance that AADE is spearheading now
4) Make it the overarching symbol for National Diabetes Awareness Month and associated outreach (i.e. November should be about lobbying for this illness as a cause, not just an opportunity for individual orgs to promote their own work)
5) Display the Blue Circle prominently at their annual meetings and professional events, to ensure that everyone in the healthcare and Pharma industries also have it top of mind
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To those who might argue that campaigning for a symbol isn't meaningful, because it "doesn't really do anything to help people with diabetes": We implore you to think a little deeper.
We're also aware that there's been some criticism that Pink Ribbon efforts have become too commercial, but consider:
- Since its inception in 1998, the Pink Ribbon events and donations have raised more than $1.2 million and provided over 4,400 "Comfort Bags" to women undergoing cancer treatment.
- Due to aggressive promotion, between 1991 and 1996, federal funding for breast cancer research increased nearly fourfold to over $550 million!
There can be no arguing that the Pink Ribbon has brought that illness' cause to the forefront of public health concerns. These are the kinds of effects we'd like to see the Blue Circle accomplish for diabetes!
Please join us in calling for a single, unified symbol. Sign the petition here.