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:
• River & Forest
• 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.