Brain Sinew

02 May 2020

One of the most memorable objects of my childhood was a scooter. That’s right, a scooter. Now this wasn’t an ordinary, off-the-shelf type scooter like the other kids had. This was a hot rod.

Dad washing his 1957 Chevy Bel Air

Growing up the son of a car enthusiast, my dad and a friend of his chopped off the back wheel of my new scooter and welded a big fat wheel and tire in its place to create the ultimate driving, or should I say scooting, machine.  Hot rods are typically old or classic cars that have been modified to make a statement, often with large engines, loud exhaust, and fat rear tires that improve traction if one was to, say, floor the gas pedal. While I would learn these basic kinetic truths in my own vehicle a few years later, I’ll never forget my first statement making experience hot roddin’ my one-of-a-kind scooter through the neighborhood.  

Dad took pictures at every car show to gather inspiration

While many years have passed since I first debuted my hot rod scooter to the neighborhood, I can’t help but reflect on why this specific recollection is so vivid. What experience, circumstances, or conditions create good memories or lasting positive impressions? My observation is that it was a truly unique creation that fused a traditional store bought scooter with the concept of a souped-up automobile. Essentially, two unrelated objects linked to create something new and memorable. I also pondered how this works throughout the human body. As synapses allow neurons to transmit signals across the nervous system, I believe we can create new connections between otherwise ordinary, possibly unrelated ideas. 

Think of your brain as a series of highway roads that communicate necessary information across the body. While much of this information is essential to survival, new connections open our opportunities to learn, develop, and create with endless possibilities! 

Me hot-roddin’ in the driveway, circa 1990

Let’s apply this same concept to brand identity. When developing a brand theme, I look for concepts that don’t yet have connections. For example, I recently created a logo for the Sedgwick County Zoo that connected their vision of wildlife preservation to a local and global perspective. The end result linked the zoo’s geographical location in Kansas, represented by the official state flower (common sunflower), to one of the worlds most recognized members of the animal kingdom (African lion). 

I also recently worked with Local Roasters Coffee, a wholesale coffee roasting company whose primary brand focus is centered on roasting and sealed packaging excellence to provide customers with the freshest beans available. The brand theme illustrates the company’s first class service and high quality beans by depicting a fresh cup of coffee sitting atop the bed of a vintage delivery truck. Ultimately, brand themes for the zoo and coffee company combined existing imagery to organization specific elements to create a strong, customized, and enduring brand image.  

Brands are constantly evaluating the need to distinguish themselves from competitive marketplace forces as customers are endlessly saturated with images of similar products and services. A company’s need to stand out among the pack has never been so important or consequential. I can still remember cruising through the neighborhood on my hot rod scooter. The unique and unforgettable modification to the traditional scooter changed my overall mentality when riding. It instilled pride and confidence to ride and corner faster, while creating an incredible lifelong memory. If you’re a business owner, organizational leader, or aspiring designer looking to create memorable and lasting brands, consider the uncharted pathways.  Challenge previously held notions and consider making new connections in the roadways of our brains. I’m guessing we will remember them.  

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