Guiding, in the UK and in most of the counties to which it spread, was based on the idea of the 'Patrol System' - the small peer-led gang or group, who planned and carried out their own activities as a group, as well as being part of a larger Pack or Company. Thus in the Brownie, Guide and Ranger Sections, the Patrol system was used. And as a result of this, Patrol Badges existed from an early stage.
Rainbows had never had regular sub-groupings. Within this, there was scope for Rainbow Leaders to split their girls into groups occasionally, but these would normally be of short duration, and would be adult-led, not peer led. As such, there were not specific badges or other symbols for this purpose. However, in October 2020 when the existing Brownie and Guide Six and Patrol Badges were introduced, it was announced that these would be available for all sections, so Rainbows could choose to have regular sub-groups if wished - however most units have opted not to adopt these, either doing whole-unit activities or occasional sub-groups. .
In the Brownie section, during the first year, the Brownie Sixes were named after trees. They had embroidery on their hat to show which Six they belonged to, but it is not clear if there was ever a published or written list of which trees were used.
Shortly after, the 'fairy folk' six names were adopted, and embroidered badges produced - rectangles of brown fabric, with the figure embroidered in coloured thread. Pre-WW2 the badges were embroidered on a felt-like fabric, this was later replaced by washable and more durable woven badges, in the same style. In these early years, too, each Sixer could carry a 'wand' - a narrow stick with a wooden cut-out of their Six's figure on it - as her symbol of office, in the same way that Guides had Patrol flags.
In 2003 The Brownie Six Badges were modernised to be oval badges, with the figures being portrayed in a more cartoon style (although retaining their traditional colours and poses), and at the same time, five woodland animals were added as an alternative to the 'fairy folk', for those units which wished. Some opted to change to animals, others retained their previous Six names.
In October 2020 a new range of designs for badges was introduced, open to all sections, and doing away with the separate badges for Brownies and Guides. All of the previous animals and fairy folk remained available, with the fairy folk retaining similar colour schemes and poses, they were available in either woven or pin-badge form.
Prior to 1968, the Sixer wore two broad braid stripes on her sleeve, initially in brown, but later in yellow, with her Second wearing a single stripe. From 1968-c2004, smaller striped badges were worn below the Six emblem on the uniform. These were replaced by pin badges, initially with a rubber front, later with enameled fully-metal badges.
The heart of the Guide section was, and continues to be, the Patrol. Led by the Patrol Leader, who was assisted by the Patrol Second, the Patrol was expected to take on projects and challenges as an independent group, as well as joining in with unit activities. In Guiding's early years, Patrol Leaders wore chevron-style stripes on the sleeve, these were replaced by vertical stripes on the left shirt pocket. From 1968 until the early 2000s these were replaced by curved stripes worn next to the Patrol badge, since the 2000s metal pin badges have been used instead.
The other 'badge of office' of a Patrol Leader, was the Patrol Flag - this was a white fabric pennant, which had the Patrol flower or bird printed, painted or embroidered on it, which was carried on her Guide Stave - Patrol members' staves did not have flags.
As well as Patrol members wearing their Patrol badge, up to the mid-1960s each Guide also wore a couple of folded braid strips on one shoulder, referred to as a 'shoulder knot', in their Patrol colours.
As well as the regular selection of bird or flower emblems, a blank Patrol badge was also available, to allow Guide patrols to choose an alternative name and embroider their own emblems.
In the 2000s, all of the existing Patrol badges were replaced by a new range of oval pin badges, with a mix of animals, flowers, buildings, insects etc.
In October 2020 these were, in their turn, replaced by a new set of badges, available in woven or pin form, with the same selection available to all sections.
Prior to World War 2, Senior Guides/Land Rangers also had Patrols - in their case named after trees. Five designs were introduced in the early 1920s, with three further designs introduced a few years later. As with Guides, there were Ranger Patrol Leaders, and Ranger shoulder knots in Patrol colours were also worn. In Sea Rangers at one point there were also Patrols, with transfers available for making Patrol badges featuring different types of sea bird - later they had Port and Starboard watches instead. Ranger Patrols seem to have been dropped in the early 1940s.