As new business owners, we eagerly awaited the arrival of our official logo from our designer the way some people hold their breath over a gender reveal. In the throes of moving from one apartment to another, I kept my phone on me waiting for Jenn to text with the good news. Maneuvering around boxes, I clicked her text, inhaled, and finally laid eyes on our logo for the first time. I loved it. Just loved it. It was impactful – black and white – and represented our name, Cast Iron Content, perfectly. There it was – a cast iron pan, handle facing skyward, with an ink quill facing outward in the center. Pan. Pen. Done.
It would be disingenuous to say that I asked for feedback from my nearest and dearest about the logo. Instead, I presented the proposed design with all the confidence of the uninitiated business owner. “Look at our logo!” I proudly demanded of friends, family, and some random guy filling up at the pump next to mine. Faced with boundless enthusiasm, what else could these people do but nod, smile and wholeheartedly flash two thumbs up?
Imagine my surprise after I started making it rain business cards to have my best friend excitedly tell me how relieved she was that she finally ‘got’ our logo. Got? What did she mean? Was she like, super stoked to have our business card in her hand?
The blank stare on my face prompted her to go on. Apparently, she had been staring at my business card on her fridge (like I said, she’s my bestie, so my “work” is proudly displayed next to pictures of her baby, nieces, and nephews, alongside emergency numbers and poison control). After a long hard look at the logo, she finally saw it! She got it! It wasn’t two lobster claws reaching out of the abyss. It was a pan! A pan with one of those old-fashioned pens inside it – eureka!
This lead to an entirely too long conversation about those Magic Eye books and posters that were so popular back in the 90s…remember those gems?
Given her notoriously bad spelling, I chalked up Kate’s confusion to anything having to do with the written word. Period. A brilliant nurse, content eludes her. I was happy with that assessment. Until…
A few days later, I was regaling my sister with a story – still completely incredulous that Kate couldn’t see what was so clear to Jenn and me. “Actually,” Ali began…and I knew this was no good. A marketer, one who actually designs logos for a living (news to me), Ali also found herself grappling with why we thought a crustacean would be a kick ass symbol for our company. Apparently, her husband – also a business owner – was flummoxed, too.
Determined to chalk up some of my best people as unimaginative, but well meaning, I kept these conversations to myself. Jenn didn’t need to know that I was surrounded by people with no vision. How much did it matter that a few people questioned the design?
When it comes right down to it, Jenn and I totally dig all things vintage. So, I thought the Magic Eye throwback was kind of cool. Those illustrations, whether on a page or poster, were thought provoking, right? A quick search for throwback’s sake suggests that people might really love not knowing for sure what exactly they are looking at. The original Magic Eye book was followed up by various other editions and versions, and even expanded into specific themes devoted to mega franchises like Disney and Harry Potter.
That got me to thinking…maybe we want people to wonder about our logo – really look at it and determine what exactly they see – or think they see. It’s an interesting exercise in shifting perspective. Just look at the whole title: MAGIC EYE – A New Way of Looking at the World. There’s some mystery there, which always proves intriguing. Many designers intentionally hide meanings and hints within a logo, making them well worth a second look and more careful consideration.
And who could ever forget this chick? Or crone, depending on which one you see…
Pretty sure I first met these two ladies when I was in middle school. A Magic Eye flunky, I was pumped that I could see both the young and old woman in this optical illusion. Perspective shift = mind blown.
So, rather than report the discrepancies to Jenn, I clammed up. You know, in honor of crustaceans everywhere.
Last month, Jenn went to visit and professionally pow-wow with her sister – a serious social media maven. This chick knows what’s up and is on point with posts and people of influence 24/7. As it turns out, she doesn’t “get” our logo either.
I stood in my new kitchen – ignoring the last box or two to unpack and quietly awaited Jenn’s take, while still not volunteering mine. As often happens with my business partner, she fired back with a confidence I only manage to fake. She simply laughed and said, “Who cares?”
The more I thought about it, she’s right. Does a logo have to be obvious in order to have value? Isn’t it enough for it to be recognizable? Maybe the lobster is our hidden animal – the hard-shelled spirit of Cast Iron Content. Besides, further consideration revealed that a logo redesign is often not worth the risk.
So, if somewhere between the pen and pan, a lobster dwells in our logo, what could that mean? Well, a quick search of the meaning behind the lobster, for those who believe in sun signs, totems, and dream interpretations combines the factual reality of how a lobster lives with what it’s represented to various cultures.
First off, lobsters are scavengers – picking through the seafloor for just the right morsel. Isn’t that what content marketers do? Parse through content and pages of research in order to find exactly what will satisfy their clients, setting them apart from a sea of sameness. Associated with strength, protection, regeneration, and persistence, I welcome this elusive lobster in our logo for its connection to cast iron as a formidable shell under whose protection we can continue to grow.