Family Coat of Arms Design Project
Coat of Arms/ Family Crest
I have been working on our family’s genealogy the past year and it has been a fascinating experience. The bulk of my lineage is Irish and I researched my family’s Coats of Arms (we have names we can trace on both sides of my family). It is very difficult to accurately trace my family’s coat of arms perfectly, in fact, you will find that it is extraordinarily difficult to authenticate something that traces back to medieval times and to a country that family members left generations ago. There are also very strict regulations on using coats of arms and the authentication process is daunting. But, that doesn’t have to stop us from creating our own modern-day coats of arms with our children. Afterall, it’s just a branding project.
Coats of Arms date back to medieval times. They were issued to knights for their shields to distinguish them from one another. These individuals owned the rights to their Coat of Arms and often passed them down to the next generation. Ultimately, it is a brand identity for their family heritage. Churches and companies, such as Universities that had royal charters, also were issued coats of arms. These are precursors for what we now know as logos.
Each coat of arms is unique. Throughout the design are icons representing various things about the knight or entity. The colors chosen are just as symbolic as the icons, which could represent things like birth order, character traits or fighting prowess. Since we are tracing its history back to medieval knights, ability in battle was a very big deal.
Parts of a Coat of Arms:
A coat of arms is divided into parts and each part is an important symbol of the family or entity it represents; just like branding and logo design is for companies. The parts of a coat of arms are:
- The Motto: A motto is a brief phrase or sentence that captures the beliefs of a person or group. These are not included on all Coats of Arms, but I think it is a great idea to develop one with your kids whether you include it on your coat of arms design or not. Typically, if it is included, it is found a the top of the arms.
- The Crest: The crest is located at the top of the shield (think of the crest of a wave). It is an icon that represents an accomplishment of the owner of the arms.
- The Shield: The shield is the central part of the arms and harkens back to the days of knights and the origin of coats of arms. The shield is usually divided in some way and there are icons, patterns and color variation in the shield, all with very distinct symbolism related to the owner.
- Supporters: Supporters are typically animals on either side of the shield, supporting it. It is also typical to see people or plants/leaves in this spot. These also tell part of the story, so we wouldn’t choose a random animal we like to put here, just because we like it. It would be chosen by what it represents in our family.
How to Apply to Today:
Today we have a completely different culture from medieval times, but the concept of having a family coat of arms is still applicable and fun. It is a great design exercise, too. We can look at what our families value, what our vocations might be and even incorporate our own family history and experiences- even if we haven’t descended from nobility. I have created a free template for you to use to make your own coat of arms and family crest. I also have a more detailed project in my shop that will help you work through the design process with your kids to create your own custom branding for your family!
I’d love to see your completed Coat of Arms, so please tag me on instagram to share. @raisingcreatives