Just over a year ago, I settled on a logo that I thought would be a suitable representation of myself. I put it on business cards, stationery, and even bought a rubber stamp to go with it all.
There were a few problems I had with this mark. My Illustrator skills, at the time, were even worse than they are now, so the vector was pretty poorly scraped together. The mark lost detail at small sizes, and I never bothered to tweak it for use as a favicon, for example. The true center left the mark feeling off center, and the visual center left an odd imbalance wherever it was positioned. It was a nice idea, and executed properly may well have stuck as an identity for myself. But above poor execution, I realised I wasn’t trying to represent myself; I was trying to represent my work.
I make tools. That’s what I do best. I know that I have a broad skill range; I’ve had experience with corporate branding, icon design, application design, web app development, and more CSS experiments than you can shake a stick at – but what I’m actually best at is building tools. Finding something that makes life difficult and doing something about it. Even if someone has already done the same thing.
So about two months ago, I was finishing off the latest redesign for my blog. I knew it was missing something – my own personal mark. I’d long ago abandoned the idea of using the “D” mark on the blog, since it just wouldn’t work. So I opened up the special character palette and just looked over the icons. Something generic that looked nice and held true to my craft. And then I saw the tools.
If anything, my connection with this mark has gotten stronger since I first saw it. I don’t need something to represent myself; I can do that just fine on my own. My attitude and behaviour is not a reflection of my work, so why should my work be a reflection of myself? They’re two different things. And this symbol represents my work better than I ever could.
Heart And Soul
I’ve been criticised of using a mark too generic to effectively represent myself or my work, and that’s a justified argument. This mark could just as easily be used for a plumber or a joiner as it could a designer. More likely the former, in fact. But I’m not trying to build an instantly recognisable brand. 9 out of the 10 people in our industry won’t look at that symbol and associate myself with it, and I don’t mind. I just wanted something that would look great at sizes big and small, and that was a fair representation of my work.
But why tools in the first place? Well, like I said, it’s what I do best. I make tools. On a deeper and more philosophical note, I also happen to believe that tools are what set us apart from all other species. Tools brought us fire, food, travel, knowledge, exploration, creativity, and so much more. Tools have shaped this world. I’m delighted to call myself a maker of tools.
So I’m rebuilding my brand. I’m replacing the one I built too quickly, and as a result became detached from. I’m replacing it with one that I’ve actually grown closer to. I am a maker of tools. Here’s a silly little logo to prove it.