Branding

I’m reading some stuff right now on branding. When we started our family cider mill years ago, we eventually stopped trying to DIY our logo and hired a graphic designer. This is what she came up with:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.55.57 PM

What’s nice about it, is that you understand instantly what we’re about – our historic dance hall, with the apple tree in full fruit. It’s drawn very crisp, and carries some of the idiosyncracies of the building through, things like the slightly unsymetrical frontage of the building for instance, cleverly tucked behind the apple tree; the font (no idea what the font is, but anyway) is also similarly crisp.

I’m no graphic designer. But I decided to give it a try – what would a logo for the ‘Electric Archaeology’ brand look like? I have to think back to 06 when I started this, and remember why I went with ‘electric’ and not ‘digital’. After all, what with Twitter handles and other social media properties, I’ve pretty much aligned myself with ‘electricarchaeo’, that performance of me on the net, and ‘electric archaeology’, this strange half-world between archaeology, history, public expressions of the same, teaching, and everything else I’ve done.

Why did I go with ‘electric’? Today, I’m not sure. I think it was partly through fear that ‘digital’ as adjective would get old hat: that we would all become digital archaeologists. That’s not really happening though; ‘digital archaeology’ signals something different than ‘computation-in-the-service-of-archaeology’, more of the deformative, digital-humanities side of archaeology, rather than the GIS-and-databases problem solving/management side. Neither side is better or worse than the other; they’re just different. But ‘electric’ also signals a kind of nostalgia for the excitement that ‘electric’ as an adjective once conveyed. Perhaps I was being hipsterarchaeologist.  It also conveys a bit my thought processes; I get very switched on (as it were) to different methods, paths, techniques, issues, as I see them come over the horizon. (Maybe, in a way, I’m trying to repent for the embarrassment of Shawn-the-callow-youth-of-1995 who wrote that the web would never amount to anything for academics).  Ideally, you’d read the stuff I produce, or see the things I make, or hear the data I sonify, and get electrified with new ideas yourself.

I did my own A/B testing on the Sunday night twitter crowd.

and received lots of feedback, eg:

Lots of opinions out there. I rather like them both (and if you want to see other contenders, just flip through my twitter posts).

A:Drawing (2)

B:

Drawing (1)

Why does any of this matter? I’m not entirely sure – but stick with me. Partly I think, it’s because we operate in a reputation economy. People listen because I’m a known quantity; I’m a known quantity because people listen. Mathew Kirschenbaum:

So it is with digital humanities: you are a digital humanist if you are listened to by those who are already listened to as digital humanists, and they themselves got to be digital humanists by being listened to by others.

That’s just one bit cherry picked from a very important essay. But if doing digital work, online work, critical digital humanities, has taught me anything, it’s that part of the performance is taking control of one’s digital identity. Part of that is carving out a brand.  And if I’m a brand, at least it’s me who’s doing the selling.

(the magic of WordPress reminds me that I last visited these kinds of ideas back in 2010).

Thank you to everyone who offered an opinion! I’m looking into stickers for option B…

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