How do we react in times of tragedy? Following the terror attacks on Paris, some businesses acted with admirable humanity and pragmatism. Uber learned from previous mistakes and turned off surge pricing over the weekend, Google offered free international calls to France via Hangouts, and Airbnb launched a disaster response tool which allows hosts to offer their rooms to stranded travellers for free. Facebook activated its Safety Check feature, a tool created for use in natural disasters which enables users to mark themselves as ‘safe’, and notifies friends and family through the network.

Two powerful symbols of humanity quickly emerged from the chaos. The Twitter hashtag #PorteOuverte was used to offer shelter to stranded Parisians and has since become an international display of solidarity, giving US Senators food for thought. Jean Jullien’s now iconic Eiffel Tower sketch was almost instantly embraced and shared across the web, providing a powerful and concise message of strength and hope where, for many, words failed. Jullien has since said people are free to use the image as they like – it has already been printed on mugs, posters and tshirts – as long as proceeds are used to help victims or families, saying in The New York Times, “the more we can help with that simple drawing, the better”.

This originally appeared in Moving Brands Wednesday 20151118.

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