Client 16: A House in Oregon

Fam­i­ly friends of mine asked me about brand­ing their beau­ti­ful vaca­tion home in Ore­gon and it set off a lot of ques­tions in my mind about how I explain my work to oth­ers, what brand­ing means to me, how it can be used and how it could pos­si­bly be abused. At first, I set out to explain to them that, although their pro­pos­al was sweet, it wasn’t real­ly what brand­ing was about. I pon­dered on it longer how­ev­er, and decid­ed that I would use this as an exer­cise to see if that was what was true, or at least what I believed.

The house that they built them­selves is sit­u­at­ed on a rapid cool riv­er and sur­round­ed by old growth forests. It is the pin­na­cle of North­west beau­ty and inspires true peace and com­fort to be there. The con­cept of brand­ing a home was an idea I still strug­gled with since it did not align with my pre­con­cep­tions of cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty. I then went to research­ing and was remind­ed how visu­als had been used for ages to sig­ni­fy fam­i­lies through Euro­pean crests and her­aldry or the Japan­ese kamon. I was inspired by the ranch brands of yore which walked the line between sig­ni­fy­ing the cat­tle prop­er­ty of fam­i­lies, and the busi­ness of keep­ing them orga­nized.

The house I was to brand for my clients (let’s call them Moun­tain Man and Dot­ty), was a great oppor­tu­ni­ty, and so we began the process of dig­ging at the true roots of the home’s impres­sion for them, the nature that sur­round­ed the area and the whole motive behind even con­sid­er­ing an iden­ti­ty for some­thing so irreg­u­lar. Moun­tain Man and Dot­ty are very proud of their home, and only want to open its doors to friends and fam­i­ly and share the expe­ri­ence and com­fort they have in such a place. These words were how they dis­tilled their impres­sion of their home, and these words laid a path for dis­cov­er­ing how a sim­ple mark could be induct­ed into the embrace of their lit­tle nest way up in the moun­tains of Ore­gon:

• Hap­py
• Beau­ty
• Riv­er & For­est
• Peace­ful­ness
• Wel­com­ing
• Fam­i­ly & Friends

The process of cap­tur­ing these reflec­tions into a mean­ing­ful sym­bol for the fam­i­ly and their home was wind­ing and adven­tur­ous. Con­sid­er­a­tion for just how this sym­bol would be visu­al­ly present for them, in or around their home or in oth­er appro­pri­ate col­lat­er­al was also a big ques­tion. In the end, the Ore­gon home drew on the visu­al roots of home­steads, a sym­met­ri­cal sense of bal­ance, a basic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of their envi­ron­ment, and the serendip­i­ty of their last name begin­ning with an O, one of the most cycli­cal and com­fort­ing of let­ter­forms. How we applied that sym­bol was as sim­ple as allow­ing it to exist in the every­day set­ting, sur­round­ing the fam­i­ly, but not shout­ing its pres­ence. A house in Ore­gon could pos­si­bly be the most delight­ful ways to express how brand­ing works: through com­mu­ni­ca­tion, rev­er­ence and iden­ti­ty, all seen from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

Leave a Reply