THE FIFTH COLUMN
I’ve been a brand for 10 years now. I have a logo, a website and an email signature that contains the logo. I’ve been using a company name and have played with the idea of talking to clients about “us here at the office” and “the team is happy to do it”, but I’ve realised it’s just me. A sole proprietor with a tax number and a one-desk office.
I would drop the company name if it wasn’t for the knock-on effect on the email address — [email protected] — which I think makes it too obvious that I’m working alone. “Just you by yourself then?” a client might ask. “Don’t you get lonely?”
My logo is red and white stripes next to text shaped like a cup. It’s not a reflection of who I am, but an attempt to create a “takeaway” feel that has failed somewhat since I had to remove the cup’s straw to fit the logo on the website. Although the text spells the company name, you can’t read it in cup form, so it all works out.
How has it happened that I — a kid who had a hard time saying his name out loud in a classroom — came to be so comfortable having a logo? I don’t think it’s the secure sense of self that’s been coming along nicely in therapy, really stretching its legs now that I’m 40. I’ve had the logo — or the idea of having a logo — since my late 20s at about the same time I reached a low point working with others.
Necessity, then? The mother of all invention and self-promotion? Maybe, but there’s another thing.
I remember now that I opened my first Facebook account when I was in my late 20s. Here, suddenly, was a personal profile to be created, by me, complete with a picture of my face and a name that’s not my name, but a cold and different name called a “username”.
That profile was very hard to bring into existence — I had maybe three photos of myself on file — but I had to do if I wanted to be online friends with my team members I wasn’t all that into to begin with. The picture was a side-on view of me smoking an illicit substance, my username brazenly and unashamedly my own name.
The cracks started to appear there, I think. I crossed a line when that picture of me with what looks like a curiously shaped pipe in my mouth went up. It was my gateway logo. From the first profile pic, it was a short hop to my personal brand.
My Facebook profile pic today is a front-on view of a nonsmoker. The account itself is dormant — the work my therapist and I are doing is finally paying off. On the business side of things my page is regrettably also dead still. But in the left-hand corner my logo sits proudly the same way it does on my website, the same way it does underneath my emails. A strawless cup that’s brought in a ton of work over the years.