Self-branding advice, anyone?

My problem, ladies and gentlemen, is self-branding.

I am a designer / Arabic calligrapher / filmmaker / human rights activist. Since my work is very eclectic and it comes as an extension of my personality, I cannot decide on a way to represent all of these different facets in a simple, clever way:

• Sometimes when I'm wearing my filmmaker's hat, I feel that the best way to represent myself is to have a logotype of my name, set in Futura, in the vein of what Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson would deem optimal. Futura also seems to be Gaspar Noe's (a French director who is at the helm of transgressive cinema) typeface of choice, which makes the font a very attractive choice because of its breadth of use. But then again, I feel that Futura has come to symbolize "the machine" more often than not, which is not very good for an activist.

• When I'm wearing my activist hat, I feel that my logotype should be simple and low profile, and should have a certain "urgent" and "streets" feel to it. I am a big fan of Banksy's work and the whole graffiti / activist feel of it. I am also a big fan of Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men" film, and I thought that the title of the movie at the beginning felt urgent, but maybe I am confusing the mood of the film with the typeface that was used for the title. I also came across this typeface (there is another stencil version of it) which I liked for its strength and urgency, but was reminded of the Soviet constructivist posters too much to pursue it.

• Additionally, I am a designer/Arabic calligrapher. Recently, I became interested in monograms, and I ended up spending all of last week researching Victorian monograms (which are very nice). But let's face it, I don't think Victorian monograms best represent me, especially since I am an Arabic calligrapher as well. Additionally, if my logo is purely done as an Arabic calligraphy piece, I would risk alienating non-Arabic-speaking clients and benefactors. I was hoping I could do something more "East meets West" or something like that.

Therein lies the rub. Some tell me that I am making a big deal over this, but I seem to have a talent for branding people but I have no way of knowing how to brand myself. I realize that none of you know me to offer a way to help me out, but I guess I am looking for a an objective insight or conceptual approach into how I can possibly group all of these different facets under one umbrella without seeming too corporate or pretentious. Any ideas / inspiration stories?

rs_donsata's picture

Use Verdana o Tahoma kerned really tight. It's simple, low profile, popular, contemporary yet striking.

sevag's picture

Hello Malik and welcome to Typophile. Indeed, self branding is one of very challenging tasks that a designer/artist/anyone faces. Some create an identity according on how they perceive themselves at a particular time in their life; in this case their identity might change throughout their careers as they develop an individual way and style of doing things — this happens gradually, as you get more and more commissions from clients over the years you will see some patters in your work/life which is particular to you and someday eventually you will be able connect these patters and create a ‘final’ identity which you and people whom you work with will associate with you. Others, bearing in their minds that it's futile to exhibit all of their talents with just a logo settle for something neutral; like picking a font that they like or feel like connected to and base their identity around it. You can see this done by many famous companies and individuals i.e. Research Studios, Apple, Pentagram, Wally Olins, etc.

You mention that you like Futura, but you feel like it's too industrial. I think this has to do with the way you see things. If you asked me about the qualities of Futura then I'd say that Futura is a good choice for an activist because when I see it I associate it with energy and courage which I believe are good words to affiliate with the word activist. Of course the list could go on. However I must also mention that Futura has had it's time, try finding something more contemporary with the qualities that you are looking for.

On the other hand you mention about your origins and that you also do calligraphy, in this case why don't you combine two types of styles in one. I don't know how you identify your self so I'm just gonna say that you could have part of your name set in Futura and the other part in something which looks handmade.

All that I've written above is a long, vague hint of what you can do. Before you pick a name, the font and the style; if I was in your shoes I would collect images from magazines, movie shots, images of anything which are close to your heart and correspond to your lifestyle, your work, put them up on a wall and write down words that these images bring to your head. When you have the words you will be able to visualize new forms in your mind and hopefully come up with an image of how you want others to see you/your identity. Lastly, fortunately the market is full of books on self branding, a trip to the library or the bookshop is a good starting point — just be careful on what you pick. Good luck!

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Hey, you don't want to mention your human rights activism around here, unless you're 100% pro Israel... Trust me...

cerulean's picture

Ryan, just stop. It is reasonable to rebuke the atrocities committed by Israel. It is equally reasonable to assume that anyone who doesn't know how to do so without flying a swastika is either simply anti-Semitic or too clueless to be in public unsupervised. You can't blame people for not having observed you long enough to know which.

omfaonline's picture

Thank you for your wonderful reply Sevag, it's useful to see one's problem through another's eyes.

@Ryan: Are you the neighborhood bully around here? I've always crushed neighborhood bullies.
"Israel" is an illusion that will end very soon. Just like the third reich. Palestine lives forever.

@cerulean: It's funny how pro-"Israel" zealots pull off the "anti-semitic" card every time you criticize the atrocities of their murderous "state". What's even funnier is that Arabs are semites as well.

hrant's picture

This thread has good potential - you guys should cool it and not put your personal venting ahead of the greater typographic good (which is the point of this forum).

hhp

5star's picture

hrant, who's that awesome Arabic calligrapher you keep citing all over the place?

n.

hrant's picture

Huh?
Do you mean the Turkish guy who makes Latin letterforms look Arabic?

hhp

5star's picture

Um, maybe dunno. Not to sure about him either.

I mean the guy that has some unique brushes (they look something like small steel combs), he uses them to create really broad strokes (most times in color?) and compliments that with some black Arabic script ... all done in the key of awesome.

I don't think he's Turkish, Iranian comes to mind ... maybe you upped him to your flickr account. I'll go check it out.

n.

5star's picture

@hrant, I found the guy I was thinking about ... Hassan Massoudy ...Iraqian but has been hanging out in Paris since '69.

@omfaonline , perhaps try doing something gestural with broad emotional umph! complimented with some tight lettering ... use Hassan Massoudy's stuff (or some other awesome contemporary Arabic calligrapher) to inspire you.

http://hassan.massoudy.pagesperso-orange.fr/english.htm
http://hassan.massoudy.pagesperso-orange.fr/galerie.htm
http://hassan.massoudy.pagesperso-orange.fr/galerie2.htm

n.

omfaonline's picture

@Ryan: Your initial message could be read both ways and I'm just truly fed up with pro-Israel zealots online and offline because they seem to be as good at lying as they are at breathing. I apologize if I hurt your feelings.

@hrant: Thanks.

@5star: Thanks. I am familiar with Hassan Massoudy's work, he is a master calligrapher. So you're saying that I should go for Arabic calligraphy as my venue of choice to represent the different facets of who I am (activism, filmmaking, design)? My primary concern still stands though: I'm afraid I will alienate non-Arabic-speakers.

hrant's picture

Wait, there's another Hrant?! ;-)
Because I'd never heard of Hassan Massoudy. On the other hand, looking at his stuff, it is pretty cool.

Malick, here's an idea: if you use a font (or lettering style) that emphasizes horizontals instead of the traditional verticals in Latin, you would allude to Arabic, and you would allude to revolution, while remaining subtle and tasteful. Look at the fonts of Excoffon and Bloemsma for starters.

You might also consider leveraging Arabic's diamond motif. For example:
http://www.typophile.com/node/97738#comment-531452

hhp

JamesM's picture

> designer / Arabic calligrapher / filmmaker / human rights activist

Logos are best when they communicate a simple, clear message or feeling. Trying to illustrate all these varied activities in one logo might be difficult unless you can find a common idea or theme that runs through all of them.

If you can't combine them, one possible solution is to follow a similar approach to corporations that need separate logos for each division of their company. You'd create a series of logos that were specific to each of your occupations, but clearly related in style, font usage, etc.

> I have no way of knowing how to brand myself.

It's a common problem. I've known designers who seems to change their logo every few years and are never satisfied with them.

5star's picture

I'd seriously consider James's advice as gospel. But be careful, don't reduce yourself down to a grunt.

Those broad brush strokes impart a heck of a lot of emotion don't they. Kinda like you ...no? The black Arabic text holds everything down like a keel steadies a boat. So, for your branding why not use these very same design elements ... one element of broad passionate expression steadied by your discipline(s). The broad element could be an interpretation of a meaningful Arabic word and the text could be non-Arabic.

@hrant ...there can be only one :) Sorry about confusing the matter. I found that after I raed and viewed the interwebs entire content it was difficult to recall a specific item. Unfortunately I have only a 98% accurate photographic memory. The missing 2% always ... I mean always ... gets me in trouble.

n.

Karl Stange's picture

Your range of expertise and interest reminded me of someone I only read about the other day, Nader El-Bizri نادر البزري, whose expertise spans and brings together phenomenology, Arabic sciences and philosophy, and architectural theory . That summation does not really do justice to everything that he does and how it translates into the world but what is clear in both cases is that your unifying point is your name, who you are is the most powerful statement of what you do. I'm afraid that I do not have a good suggestion about where to take that in terms of typefaces, but something bold and clear would probably work best.

cerulean's picture

On topic, I would warn against monograms. Every designer has to grow out of the phase of sticking their initials together to communicate nothing. If you want to be remembered, you need a symbol. Type will play a supporting role. If you use Arabic calligraphy it should be the kind that is shaped like something.

5star's picture

If you want to be remembered, you need a symbol.

Wrong.

n.

hrant's picture

I'm starting to think Neil's Hassan Massoudy approach is pretty good. You have movement, Arabic, calligraphy and revolution (since it's not traditional). The one tricky thing would be making it look nice without any of that shading.

See also: http://www.flickr.com/photos/monikagermann/5533430851

BTW, current and related:
http://typophile.com/node/98828
(Although it hasn't been fruitful yet.)

hhp

omfaonline's picture

Thanks all

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

No worries, Omfa.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Wait, hrant, of course latin types emphasize the horizontal. Unless you mean "make thinner" as emphasize.

hrant's picture

I meant that in the Latin tradition the verticals are thicker, in contra to the Semitic tradition.

hhp

Syndicate content Syndicate content