Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Say cheese :)

Today I showed up at work and sat down at my desk, opened my Mac. Craving for coffee. The usual stuff. But then a colleague came over to say: 'I just got it, it's all about cheese!' Yes, that's right   cheese. I was puzzled too.

Well, apparently my colleague had just figured out what 'my brand' was all about. Still puzzled. I first thought it was something to do with the cheeses I had brought back from my recent trip to France (the cheese had stank up two Swiss Air Lines flights and the London DLR along the way). But it wasn't. I found myself on the same page as soon as my colleague clarified that it was my 'Finntastico' brand he was on about. 'Aah' I said. He must have been reading my blog.

Funnily many folks first looking at my brand and the logo, to be more precise, indeed see and say: 'cheese'. Well, in an attempt to clarify 'my brand' I thought I could explain it a bit. There are other subliminal messages, besides the somewhat unintentional cheese, that the brand is designed to transmit.

As with any proper branding exercise, designing the brand was all about expressing my core values. Let's start with the most visual bit: the block of 'cheese'. Firstly there's the exclamation mark. See that? If not then look at the 'cheese' in respect to the 'o' of the word 'Finntastico' beneath if. Get it? Okay, good. Well, the grande idea was that it's supposed to represent ideas and the sort of 'eureka' experience. You know, creativity and innovation, all that magic. The next challenge for some is more difficult: there's a letter in it too. Yes, indeed, the letter 'F'. Spot that? Then again some see the 'F' but not the exclamation mark. Funny the way the brain works.

I like the logo as it's a bit like one of those psychological tests. It was designed by my mate Caspian from New Zealand who is a very creative guy and passionate about graphic design. I am happy to recommend him if you need a safe pair of freelance hands with a creative edge and can't afford a big agency. Heck, he might even do a better job than 'an agency'. Feel free to check out his portfolio at Smoothfluid.

Business card design

I've just met Caspian once at a random meeting at Norhumbria University in Newcastle. We took part in an event there, a talk on innovation by some British hot shot whose name I've forgotten by now. I just remember the fancy suit, a brown briefcase and BBC English. Anyway, me and Caspian swapped business cards over drinks and kept in touch. I kept a close eye on Caspian's blog and when I set up my private trading name 'Finntastico' in Finland (where else?) three years later, Caspian was the first person on my shortlist for designing the visual identity of my brand. We worked very nicely online, him being in New Zealand and me in Finland. Amazing how easy collaboration across the globe has become.

Letter head

But I digress; back to the cheesy stuff. My brand name 'Finntastico', climbing upwards at a 28.5 degrees angle to express progress, on the other hand, is a pun of the words Finn, fantastic and fantastico en español. It kind of sums up my cross-cultural experience: I was born and bread in Finland, have spent five years in the UK, one in the US and a year in Spanish speaking countries Spain and Central America to be precise. I actually tried to register 'Finntastic' but was told I couldn't as Finnair had already registered it. But hey, Finntastico it was meant to be and I'm glad I was obliged to opt for a cross-cultural brand name as opposed to just an intercultural one.

iPhone app

So should I be worried about cheese being there? To be honest I don't really mind the confusion; it works as a nice conversation starter. Besides I like most cheese. It's more than often tasty and comes in many different forms and colors: it can be solid, liquidy, creamy, dry, soft, grainy, hard, blue, white, orange, brown you name it. It can stink or not smell at all, be salty or unsalty. It can be made out of buffalo's, cow's or e.g. goat's milk.

The world of cheese is a bit like the world of man: pluralistic and multicultural. Cheese doesn't just mean any one given thing although there are those who try to put cheese in a box and say after trying just one sort of cheese: 'I hate it'. As if all cheese is the same. And despite the fact that most cheeses coexist peacefully, there are those that seem to want to overpower the rest by their imposing smell. You could argue that they stink.


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