Sunday, January 24, 2010

Logo-Commotion

There’s been a lot of talk here during the Lunch Box Mom editorial meetings about our new logo. If you haven’t noticed, the one we have now is a suitcase decked out with surfer decals. It bears a passing resemblance to a lunchbox, in that it’s square, and at $19.99, was almost under budget. It’s always been seen as a temporary logo, just good enough to signal our existence on Facebook and Twitter, where, the image is so small, you can’t really tell what it is not, much less what it is.



The fur’s been flying in our meetings, though, about the soon to be unveiled new logo. One staff member howled and cried like a newborn—which is funny, because she’s at least nineteen months. Others have been more diplomatic, sensing an extra episode of Dinosaur Train if I stayed distracted by indecision.

Who is on my A-list creative team?

One of the most senior members is Gilbert, my golden retriever. He’s been with me for eight years. An early imprinting experience has given him a penchant for blondes and fleece blankets. He often falls asleep in meetings, and as far as I can tell, has worn the same outfit every day of his life.

Ava is the newest member and the most hotheaded. She tips the printer over even when’s she’s happy, and has, more than once, eaten or soiled a very important document. She’s still in diapers, which means she’s very connected to forward trends.

Heidi is the most artistically experienced in the group. There are few hours in the day when she is not with a magic marker or Aquadoodle in hand. She’s got a good eye for composition and is, at four and a half, remarkably calm when over-ruling me on a decision.

My husband, Tom, is the IT department. When my computer doesn’t work because it’s, “off” or when I accidentally set my email to a five-point font and think I’m losing my eyesight, he puts his Princeton engineering skills to use. I have to admit it’s slightly inconvenient that he’s often in his “real office” several miles away from the house, but I am ok with bothering him at work.

The team’s main job has been to figure out what image best represents our blog. I decided having a lunchbox, or stack of them, might make sense. And, then, of course, perhaps…. a mom. It’s almost exciting, don’t you think, to be so shockingly literal?

Several minutes of online research revealed some general trends in logo/cartoon moms. Most wear high heals and push antique bassinets; carry purses meant for Smurfs; and stand in silhouette so the flip of their ponytails can be truly appreciated.

Accessories might include: a dog stuffed into said handbag; a shoe box; shopping bags. Flowers, martini glasses, and flip flops also enter prominently into the iconic details representing womanhood. Try finding a mom-themed image on Evite that has none of these and I’ll attend your party.

Look elsewhere and you’ll meet what I call the Whimsical Woman. She’s sketched in a quick stroke, or a single line. She might be pushing a stroller, or holding her child—but she looks hip, sassy, and unburdened by life. The Circle of Mom’s Facebook logo has a bit of this style. And, the profile cartoons on Café Mom.

I know nobody who looks like the Whimsical Woman. But we all want to feel like her, at times.

I sketched a whimsical woman on a piece of construction paper and took it to a friend of mine who’s a talented artist and teacher, Caroline Hall. As a painter, she usually works in oil and her work expresses womanhood with a capital W.

After a few weeks, we met to go over her sketches. The mom in the logo was wearing a blousy shirt and the image just didn’t jive with what I had in my head. But, it was hard putting my finger on what I wanted changed.

After a few minutes, I finally said, “Can you make the waist a bit thinner?”

Silence

She stared and then said flatly,  “I knew you were going to say that.”

Oh, the pain of realizing your own hypocrisy. Am I the same woman who lambasted Disney for perpetuating the slutty, skinny princess? Did my lunchbox mom need a tiny waist, and curves in all the right places?

Back at HQ, the team weighed in:

Gilbert: no comment

Ava: red in the face

Heidi: doodling her own sketch

Tom: on a “real call”

I decided to sleep on it.

In the morning, I woke up feeling Caroline’s image had staying power, which is what I really wanted. But, the mom was intimidating. This woman was not wearing heals; she had on sturdy boots. Her back was to the viewer, but don’t even think about getting a cute butt shot. The most prominent thing about her body was an extended arm—in a gesture that conveyed the fact that she was speaking. And, as I’d asked, she's on top of a stack of lunchboxes. I thought they’d be precariously balanced. Caroline made them grounded.

Let’s talk about the hair.

“Kind of curly—Kyra Sedgwick before The Closer,” I said. Caroline gave me waves, but there’s no Hollywood glam in this frizz.

Having a human on a logo is so much more complicated than a piece of luggage. The safest bet was to hearken back to the whimsical woman. Could we at least put this mom in flip flops?

No, no. I live in New Jersey, and except for the three months of summer, the only time women wear flip flops is when they chance hypothermia for the sake of a drying pedicure.

Gilbert: No comment

Ava: (indecipherable)

Heidi: I’m thirsty.

Tom: I know a pedicure is for the feet, I did take Latin. But, why are you asking me about this?

Now I know why they say you should never hire family members. At least nobody is on the family dole. We’re what I call a, “making-no profit.” Still, I feel a huge amount of pressure to please my nonexistent shareholders. Can you imagine how I would feel if 3 to 7 cents of Google Adsense were at stake?

If only Tina Brown’s number were listed so I could cry on her shoulder. It is so lonely at the top. Gilbert is constantly looking for an opportunity to steal my dinner, or at least lick my plate, and Heidi and Ava cannot be trusted with secrets. It’s like they don’t know the meaning of the phrase, “intellectual property.” Tom is less of a threat, but you know how IT guys always act like they’d rather be riding a Segway on the Google campus than putting paper in your printer.

It’s been just too exhausting—this micromanaging something I know nothing about. So, I’ve decided to let Caroline do her job. No more staff meetings. And, somehow we’ll get a lunchbox and a mom, and see what happens to our suitcase…

6 comments:

Houston! said...

Hilarious. I love it especially because I know your artist personally and have had many conversations with the phrase, "I knew you'd say that" in them.
But, also, because I know you and your team and you paint such a great picture of all of it - the team, the logo, what you want, what you don't want, and what a mom really is...Oh. And thank you. I should be writing report cards. A welcome distraction.

Rachel said...

Oh, I like your current logo. It has a cute Japanese look.

Fran said...

i love this Team you describe and i am all over Gilbert not changing his outfit even once in his lifetime - that is a good, good thing. As for the lunchbox, i always have seen it as a lunchbox/travel suitcase which (depending on the day and mood) can suit both intents for the Lunch hour or blog which is to escape and pack up to head into your blog and come out with much more experience and adventure than you have going in. oh and the surf board adds the extra panache of perhaps a mom's deeper desire to really go surf (something completely paradoxical to her current position on-call) and hang out for a bit on those waves whilst on the blog ride. Sarah keep up your great humor and your team is just starting - i'd say keep them going and hold them by all means accountable to their awesome duties.

Anonymous said...

reading your essays is truly great fun sarah...

R. Bryant said...

Funny stuff - the perfect break during my baby's 30-minute nap. I look forward to seeing the new logo!

Katie said...

Think about it this way - it is not THAT you (don't have a soap box and instead) have a lunch box ... it is what goes INTO the lunch box (i.e., what you make(say), not that you make(say) it). Maybe that'll spur some ideas...although I do like the description of Caroline's creation so far...but agree that teetering boxes would be more representative than a firm stack. Whatever you decide, I will keep coming back each week because I have so much fun reading your insight and humor, regardless of your logo.