I’m happy with the adjustments I made last month in my timeline and strategy to complete a brand in one month. Client 2, Zenith, was less intensive on research and I accelerated to the sketching phase sooner so as to have enough time to allow for a more developed brand by the end. One month is no time at all. It is already December 6th, and I merely have notions of graphics for Pine Boy. The short span with which Monthly Brand challenges itself, two things need to happen: one, branding a company must be shaved down to the minimum conceptual processes and two, I have to get better at all of those processes to make the formulation of an end brand as efficient as possible.
This month I will have to trim the tree even further, as it were, to arrive confidently to the deadline with a graphic identity for a puppet house in a semi urban environment. First thing is to “interview” the client and get to know how they perceive the market and their place in that market and community. Second thing is to rummage through real world examples of things similar to what Pine Boy’s aims are and train a critical eye towards what they’ve done to maintain a viable theatrical source in their surrounding area. Third is to begin compiling imagery and sketches that communicate Pine Boy’s persona and aims as a company. Obviously the process goes further, but one thing at a time.
So, an initial meeting with Pine Boy reveals a little bit about who they are and what they do (via my incarnation previous post). But digging a little deeper, we have to ask some more defining questions. For a real client, there are usually going to be even more questions posed about the actual implementation and usability of the final product delivered, as well as costs—we’re going to have to assume those details get ironed out for the purpose of getting to the meat of the matter, and that is bringing a unique and relevant identifying mark and usage of that mark to the client. Some of the most important things to know for a simulated project like this include: What does the troupe do exactly? Are there others in your area who offer a similar experience? If so, how do you distinguish yourself? What are the goals of the company? How would you describe your company in five words? With a complete brandmark and identity, how would such a mark be used? For what and how would it be used?
From the horses mouth needs to come the source for designing. In a lot of ways, the client/designer relationship is not unlike that of a director/actor. The director is not performing the role, but they are the source behind the concept behind the story and the mood that makes the scene. The actor hears the director, interprets and composes the concept, takes the material (presumably the script in this simile) and channels the director’s vision through it. Notice though, that this is not the same as a puppeteer/puppet relationship. The designer/actor is not, and should not be considered a mere tool through which the client/director manipulates. A puppet is nothing without a master, but a designer brings their life and perception to the scene.
And so, I set out to play this part and answer the questions above in a more in-depth conversation with this month’s client:
Pine Boy is a troupe of actors who bring a unique and regular experience of puppet shows to the public with pizzaz, mystery and charm. They specialize in stringed and shadow puppetry but also offer one- and two-man ventriloquism acts, outdoor life-sized puppetry as well as some Bunraku and automata style puppetry. The name of their company comes from an interpretive translation of Pinocchio, whose tale is centuries old and holds both a young appeal and a dark sentiment. They have a very talented and devoted staff, a small workshop, and a puppet house just outside of an urban city. There are other troupes who do similar things in the greater city area, but few who have an actual destination place that solely performs puppet shows; their competitors are often traveling troupes who are talented, but do not have a committed space for their shows.
Pine Boy distinguishes itself by offering a variety of regular shows. They develop shows for young audiences, but also perform shows for adult audiences. Youth shows include fables, vignettes, and interactive workshops with children and teenagers. Adult shows include lewd vaudeville, political satire and more grandiose experimental works with mature themes. They generally have four week runs and want to encourage regular audiences by maintaining recurring characters, episodic adventures and sketch comedy (or mystery). The goals of the company are basically to enable themselves to continue doing what they are doing; the monetary stress on their projects is beginning to outweigh their ability to perform at the level they would like, and with more seats in the house to fill, they fear the community is not aware of their entertainment, is not interested in their art, or their programming is too demanding on the troupe.
Pine Boy offers five words to describe their company:
These words speak volumes for what you might find at their shows. From raucous to romance, from bizarre to bellicose, Pine Boy brings something for everyone, bewitching you along the way, as it is all performed through puppetry. They need a brandmark, and one that will last. This brandmark will live on all marketing materials for their shows (such as news ads, posters and flyers) and will adorn their front doors. I’ve got all the raw materials at the ready now. Time to bring it to life.