Thanks to a current MBA student for a fascinating example of a company doing its best to contradict itself: VOLVO.
In 2004 the company worked out that women also drive cars (pioneering stuff!) and they should therefore also be involved in the design process (Business Week report, USA Today). What clever market segmentation.
Now isn’t that the MALE symbol used in biology?! No, according to a yahoo forum answer quoting the UK Volvo Club:
“The circle with arrow symbolizes Mars and the masculine gender, and an early relationship was established between the Mars symbol and the metal from which most weapons were made at the time, iron. As such, the ideogram has long been the symbol of the iron industry, not least in Sweden. The iron badge on the car was supposed to take up this symbolism and create associations with the honoured traditions of the Swedish iron industry: steel and strength with properties such as safety, quality and durability.”
Hmm. Wonder how many female members there are in the UK Volvo Club?
Also, Volvo needs to think about what customers perceive, not the obscure history of a symbol sold to them by the design agency.