I’ve been rethinking some things about my business and identity is at the center of it.” I hate to say crisis, but Erik Erikson who coined the term pretty much describes this to a tee, with a few tweaks to make it all relevant to business.” A year or so ago I hired an excellent designer, Karen Chappell of Redfyve Design.” She spent a lot of time getting to know my business, really listening and trying to get to the essence of who I am as a business cultivator.
After several iterations of logo concepts, we landed on the one you see now. Like a good logo or business name, it has multiple meanings and offers several ways for people to connect with it—while the image itself remains simple.” It’s based on the image of a neuron firing, but not everyone sees that.
Some people see brain activity, the positive space of the image; others see breaking through and focus on the image as negative space.” Some describe a sense of high impact, and still others say it represents a reaching outward and the ever expanding nature of a business or an idea.” I also hear that it reminds people of pointed explosions of insight, a paint splash, a zap, and even energy pulling inward.” Then there are the people who just don’t connect with it or don’t like it—or for whom it elicits a negative visceral reaction!
I always tell my clients that it’s a bad idea to ask everyone you know what they think of your logo or business name–oh but this is hard to avoid.” If you give into this temptation, you will hear that some people adamantly hate it and some love it and would be disappointed if you strayed from it—no matter what the image, you will always find people in both camps.” It will simply confuse you.” There are better logos and better business names but none that will work for everyone.” So there is an element of letting go and knowing that it won’t speak to everyone and it won’t say everything, and that’s hard for some of us, myself included!
As an anthropologist, I look for meaning in everything.” As a consultant this can be very helpful as I unpack the layers of meaning and cultural connotations that clients often cannot see.” But for myself, this can be a bit debilitating.” It’s been so hard to really commit to one design because there are other aspects to what I do and who I am for my clients that were so well represented in the other image Karen worked up—a completely different feel, much more grounded, calming, balanced and sophisticated.
I know this type of identity crisis well through the eyes of the consultant.” I have helped so many people hone in on the essence of their business and then work with them to name the business, craft a tagline, develop a concept to take to a designer.” The message/image/name should resonate with their target market but I also want it to resonate with them.” When you really get engaged in the process, a logo can become highly personal and it can drive you a little nuts to make the final call.
Recently I spoke with Matt Krzycki, video producer and owner of Goodside Studio, about this very issue.” Matt has been a client and over time we’ve become colleagues and friends.” As someone who helps his clients craft a message and identity for video, he had some great input about logos…
“Sometimes logos become physical manifestations of how we see ourselves. The challenging thing is that we are multifaceted, ever changing and situational, but logos can’t be, so it locks us up. They’re expected to represent everything we are, but they can’t.”
Perfectly said.” With video you can show more of yourself, but with a static logo, you have to wrap it all up in a few lines, some color and a font, and bam, that’s who you are saying you are.” For anyone who takes this process on as a serious exploration of their business and not just a superficial necessity, it can be a very difficult process.” If you are going through this, I feel your pain.
© 2009 – 2010, Karrie Kohlhaas. All rights reserved.