The Confederate Flag: A Tarnished Brand / by Ryan Cole

As a Marketing Major, I see a flag from the perspective of branding. The American Flag represents the brand of the United States of America and what we stand for. In that same way, any business knows the importance of positive brand association and the benefits that it can bring to a company or an organization. Because of this, they also will protect their brand from negative associations that do not represent the culture of their business and their target audience. That is why, when a scandal breaks out with a professional athlete such as Lance Armstrong using performance drugs or the Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps and his partying, businesses will automatically pull their sponsorships and disassociate their brand with that person and the negative press associated with their actions.

A good example of this happened recently, in another way, when a man's photo of a KFC chicken finger went viral because he claimed they had served him a fried rat (which turned out to be false). What did KFC do? They went on a massive investigation and Public Relations clean up, to put out this fire that could ruin their brand. I mean....the last thing a company that sells fried chicken wants you to associate them with is a fried rat....gross.

So here we are at the controversy in South Carolina with removing the Confederate Flag from the State Capital Grounds. I look on my social media accounts and see so much back and forth opinions on the issue because there are many people in the south (who are not racist) that still hold the confederate flag in high esteem for whatever reason and understand the history of the flag in a positive light. As a Southerner, born and raised, I pride myself in those cultural distinctions that represent my childhood. For me, the confederate flag has never been something that was at the forefront of that raising, but I can understand why it would have been for others.

Bottom Line....the brand that is the "confederate flag" has been tarnished...even if it was never intended on being a symbol of racism and has become that. If whoever deemed this flag honorable in the past or the present wanted that brand value to remain positive, they should have stood up against white supremacy groups, the KKK, and other hate groups that have used this flag as one of their symbols. There should have been outrage against anyone who wanted to turn that flag into a hate symbol....but now, I believe that opportunity has passed.

Because the brand has been tarnished and represents hate for so many people, we must take it down from where it stands in the capital. We must refuse hate at all costs and choose love every time! We should never value an "idol" or a "symbol" over the love of our brothers and sisters.

For those who cherish the confederate flag...When it comes to your own personal property and the history that you teach your children, you can educate them on what the real (more honorable) meaning of the confederate flag is (according to you)...but for the State House Grounds we have to represent our state as a whole...every person included!

As a follow of Jesus Christ, I firmly believe that we were all created in the image of God. There may be cultural differences all over the world, including different languages, different skin colors, and different traditions but there is only one HUMAN RACE. When we are born again by the Spirit of God through the blood of Jesus Christ we are then a part of a "redeemed people". We are all brothers and sisters and we are seen by God with equal love.

My condolences to those that have suffered at the hand of racism and hatred can only speak to the human emotions of pain that I feel....and I feel much pain and sorrow for what has happened in the history of this country and most recently with the events at Charleston. My heart breaks to hear of the pain of rejection and the hatred that still occurs everyday in this country toward individuals because of the color of their skin. To deny that these actions still exist is to attribute more hurt to an open wound. Yet still, condolences and acknowledgement can do nothing to change a history that is out of my control unless I make corresponding decisions to champion for change. I don't have control over the events of the past, but I can change the future that I project to my children and those within my circle of influence.

Racism, social prejudices, and preconceived judgement based on social class and family background must be resisted at all costs! The hatred that is displayed through the ignorance and stupidity of people can only be cured through the Gospel of the Kingdom. We are a land of diversity and must represent to the world, a brand that is loyal to to the term UNITED.