A trademark is more than a label. Sure, when you go to the grocery store and pick out your favorite brand of coffee, you admire the presentation, but I’ll bet you choose your particular blend because you enjoy the signature taste. When you sip your favorite cup of coffee, you are tasting the brand.
I recently rebranded my company, Crooked Lake Productions. It was something I’ve had in the works for some time now but for one reason or another it never made it to my work bench. Early in October, I noticed that another more established production company was starting to adopt attributes from my original logo. The most discouraging part was an iconic tree on a horizon line with its reflection on a lake, which was similar to the visual concept I had developed for my logo. I didn’t think they were doing a very good job with the symbolism. I created the original CLP logo in 2005 when I first learned how to use Photoshop. The image was based on a lake in Northern Wisconsin, where my father used to take me. At the lake, I would fish, learn how to swim, read, and discover my creative side. Later in 2006, my good friend Terance Tucker took that image and transformed it into a statement. We made a logo, business cards and a black and white logo animation without sound. It was a triumphant step forward. For the first time, my company had a face that people would start to recognize. I remember shooting video productions around downtown Seattle and people would come up to me and say, “I know you! You’re the guys with the tree!” We had a face but our lake was still nondescript.
After I saw the other production company’s failed attempt at our brand I decided to reconstruct. I looked at what we (Crooked Lake) did right and what both the other company and I did wrong. The first problem was the lake. We weren’t Crooked Tree Productions, we were Crooked Lake Productions and the community needed to see the lake I grew up on in my identity. The tree was a perfect element to the lake but the lake needed to dominate the reflection. The second problem was even though CLP’s image was strong, there were too many details. It wasn’t simple enough to be blown up to the size of a billboard and it was too convoluted to shrink down to an icon. It wasn’t vectorized so every time its size shifted, so did the pixels and that was when distortion happened. No one wants a disfigured identity. The third thing was the taste. We knew what the lake looked like…but how did it feel and what did it sound like?
I took my original 2005 concept, Terance’s beautiful 2006 animation, and started to build a team that could bring my lake to life. Dave Drage, a very talented Colorado based designer, took the reference images and built a magnificent logo. The words outlined the phantom horizon without showing land, the tree in silhouette etched a perfect stencil, and the reflection was equally cut but more fluid. The logo was still, but its persona moved. The color renditions added nostalgic feelings of seasons and temperature. Next was the animation. Matt Jorgensen, a former co-worker and good friend, made my lake move. We made sure to add outside elements that added life to the scene: rain for temperament, fog for ambiance, and a bird for humanity. Adding a living creature to the setting was the smartest thing we did. The video starts with a portrait of the mockingbird perched on a branch. As the frame pulls out and the bird takes off, we reveal the blue landscape, the lake, the tree, the logo, and us. The bird sets a scene that anyone can remember and everyone can appreciate. But what does the lake sound like? The award winning Eric Goetz knew the answer. His melodic instrumental with ambient tones accompanied by Peter Comley’s collected sounds of rain, wind and chirping created a miniature opus that screamed Crooked Lake Productions.
In 19 seconds of playback anyone can discover what Crooked Lake Productions is without any words. Crooked Lake Productions is memorable, elegant, soothing, visual, easy listening, independent and strong. Strong like the recycled card stock from Moo that our technologist Nate Vaughn chose for our business cards. Bold like the rocky font Drage used in the brand’s typography. Original like the concept Terance and I crafted together so many years ago. Lively like the mockingbird in Jorgensen’s animation. Loud like Comely’s sound and smooth like the melody from Goetz. Crooked Lake Productions is…well, see for yourself.