I didn’t leave the company I co-founded and co-directed for five years out of some form of frustration. Rather, I wanted to pursue (once again) my other passion: music.
Starting a business in a different industry is scaring and exciting. Including thinking and presenting myself as a brand rather than a secluded professional.
Name and logo were my first steps into establishing my brand presence.
Last year I started writing and producing a theatrical concept called After 1989. Besides the music, what I wanted most was to tell a tale, both personal and collective.
I’ve decided to go down a similar path, establishing the same connection between my business and my own story. It was the foundation for Minutes to Midnight’s name and logo.
I was born in the early 1970s, in a country at the forefront of what Winston Churchill called the iron curtain. A complicated fact, carrying a few peculiar features.
First: having a family who endured World War II. Second: spending my first two decades in the undeclared conflict that went down to history as Cold War.
The fear of a looming military exchange marked my whole upbringing. This craze reached a point where the idea of running to a “fallout shelter” following a black and yellow radioactive sign was normal.
War and peace
Minutes to midnight is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, a symbol which represents the likelihood of a human-made global catastrophe since the start of the atomic age.
I’ve been writing and reading creative briefs for many years, but when I met with graphic designer Saskia Robertson to discuss my logo, I didn’t have one ready.
Instead, I decided to simply describe the story behind my upcoming album. Saskia read my synopsis, along with other materials I sent over, and came up with ten different ideas.
They were excellent black and white drafts. Despite their work-in-progress status, I got caught in what seemed a natural choice: keeping the design achromatic.
The logo that stood up, and almost immediately seemed apt, was Saskia’s re-interpretation of the radiation symbol. The intriguing way she combined it with the well-known peace glyph ended up being the winning factor.
A stencil typeface rendered the logotype, which appealed to my sensitivity to military symbolism.
I remember the Cold War years as grim and bleak, therefore sporting a slightly menacing logo with a military-like logotype sounded perfect.
With the same goal in mind, I eventually chose a similar minimalistic colour palette for the website.
I used to be a scared and intense boy. I’m still intense and determined, so that had to be my brand image.
Having sorted both name and logo, I decided to apply all the brand guideline practices I learnt as a limited company co-director. I established a strong consistency between the look of the website and all the other public-facing media (documentation, email).
Steps I’ve taken:
- Trademarked name, logo and logotype with the Intellectual Property Office.
- Exported multiple versions of the logo (different media, format, size and colour contrast), depending on the intended destination.
- Chose a set of typefaces and made them into my corporate typography, which would translate well across all media.
- Created and adopted an icon font containing all the glyphs I might need, including the new website.
- Set a common minimalistic colour palette.
- Chose a set of digital tools that are reliable, easy to use, fast and accessible from anywhere, no matter what device is in use.
Being my brand
Running a small business in the music industry today not only means building and maintaining your brand but also being your brand.
Maybe this looks like baby steps. It’s not. Besides skills, time and knowledge, it requires the authenticity of not being afraid to show who you are. Not as easy as it seems.