We are happy to announce that, as of February 2010, we have officially incorporated the name of the agency as We Are Pixel8, Inc.. It was always our goal to incorporate the agency but there were several self inflicted hurdles to cross beforehand that only I can take full responsibility for.
Why did we call ourselves “Pixel8” in the first place?
In the Spring of 2009, when David and I began talking about this endeavor, one of the obvious topics was the name of the agency. We felt strongly about having a one word handle and batted around a few ideas and concepts. But we kept gravitating towards “Pixel8” as a name. The moniker succinctly affirmed that we are a creative agency and was perfectly playful by replacing the last syllable with the numeral “8”.
I can be incredibly stubborn when it comes to something I really like.
But, we weren’t the only ones with this ingenious idea. In fact, after a quick Google search, we came across a few entities using this label, both actively and inactively, and we were initially deflated. Does this mean we have to look at our other options? That didn’t feel right. I think I was even having an internal, childlike tantrum about the whole thing. I wanted what I wanted and, if you know me, I can be incredibly stubborn when it comes to something I really like. And I loved “Pixel8” and was not readily prepared to let it go.
So, we forged forward and registered the domain, wearepixel8.com not knowing that it was going to play a role in naming the company. And, though I was insisting to everyone who would listen that our name was “Pixel8”, I created an animation, for the logo our the site, that said “We Are Pixel8”. And, if you ask me why today, I will not have a good answer for you other than I thought it was a cool idea, which is never a reason to do anything when it comes to branding!
Between the domain name and the animation, people automatically assumed our name was “We Are Pixel8”. And I couldn’t blame them. This was all my fault and was a direct result from me being both pig headed and not sending a consistent message through our branding.
Time to make a decision
If you have ever incorporated a company, a process that is both joyless and rewarding, you know that you must do a name search to make sure that you are not choosing something that is in use within your field of operation. Enter hurdle number one. We already knew that the name was in use, but had no idea whether the person(s) using it ever registered the company name. We could spend an unknown amount of time finding out, thus further delaying the process, or we could simply pick a new name. I was back to that stubborn place again, but this time slightly more malleable in the process. So, after several discussions with our accountant and attorney, we made the decision to register ourselves as “We Are Pixel8, Inc.” to avoid any further complications or confusion.
…We Are Pixel8 just felt right immediately
And, I have to tell you, We Are Pixel8 just felt right immediately. The name is positive, playful, forceful and slightly narcissistic and I liked that. More than that, it wouldn’t require us finding a new domain name, which I definitely did not want to do. I have to tell you that this is the ass-backwards way of choosing a name for a company that just happened to work in our favor.
Our proper new name needed a proper new logo.
We knew that the name change would require a new direction in our brand positioning. Though we loved our original logo mark, it no longer fit the name of the company and therefore would not function well as the brand identifier for the agency. Of course, this meant it was time to head back to the drawing board, deconstruct the original art and create a new logo that would better reflect, for lack of a better phrase, who we are.
We tasked ourselves with looking at the original mark with “fresh eyes” to discern what elements we felt were strong and, therefore, wanted to retain, and what elements fell short of the message we wanted to convey.
The anatomy of our first logo.
Our prototype logo was modern in feel (something we wanted to keep), complete with custom typography that created a nice linear shape. Since, at the time of its creation, our name was simply Pixel8, there was no need for the additional verbiage of “We Are” in the mark. But, as I mentioned before, we did incorporate the “We Are” in the website logo with a talk balloon. But, again, this added to the inconsistency of what our name was and continued to confuse the user.
The “x” letter form loosely took the shape of a person when we placed a pixel shape on top of it. As for color treatment, we chose to use only two colors to exemplify our classic, uncomplicated approach to design.
After examining the mark, we decided to keep the following:
- The modern, custom letter forms as they felt strong and commanding
- The custom “x” with the pixel character as a brand identifier
- Keep the logo color palette at two colors
So, basically, we were keeping everything and figuring out a way to incorporate the additional verbiage.
Version 2 is close but not a winner.
We now knew the direction we wanted to take and I started creating sketches for a new logo. I came across a version that I liked and further developed out in Illustrator. David and I felt strongly that the “talk balloon” from the original website logo could work as our official logo so I wanted to play with that concept.
The letter forms stayed the same with the exception of a new “p” and a revised “8”. We also didn’t make any changes to the color palette but chose to only apply the Cyan to the pixel shapes above the “x” and as a stem for the “p” as well as the talk balloon.
After spending some time with this iteration, we came away with the following thoughts:
- The pixel on the stem of the “p” would get lost when the logo was reduced in size and therefore would become difficult to read. That doesn’t help with clearly defining our name.
- The linear shape of the first logo was starting to look very “box” like, constraining, cold and impersonal in this version. Though it is definitely modern, it felt like it was spit out by a computer program and I did not want that.
- Though the talk balloon worked on the website, it doesn’t work her as a logo. To me, it read “pixel8 we are” as opposed to “we are pixel8”. I moved this element around to several locations, but nothing worked and it was time to file this version under unusable.
With version 3, I was going in the wrong direction.
I thought that the problem was that the original letter forms needed to be reworked into less pixel like shapes. I redesigned all of the characters including the “x” to allow for better incorporation of the additional “we are” verbiage, using Helvetica Neue as the typeface. This would definitely give a nice contrast to the entire piece.
I also decided to be adventurous and opened up the color palette to include four new colors (Blue, Green, Yellow and Magenta). These shades felt more inviting than the previous Gray and Cyan.
After stepping away from this iteration, I knew immediately that this was not the right version. It absolutely hated it and I felt frustrated.
- The new letter forms became even more box-like than the previous and no longer worked for what I was trying to achieve.
- I needed to drop the “incorporated” from the logo as it was superfluous.
- The one aspect I liked was adding bright colors to the mark and dividing the pixel icon into four separate pixels. This felt like it should definitely be a part of the design as well as the “x” character
I think the stubborn part of my personality did not want to let go of the custom letters I spent so much time creating. But, they just did not work. The logo was becoming more and more distant and I was nowhere near the message I was trying to put across.
The fourth time was the charm
So, I went back to the beginning. I tossed everything but the “x” mark and started sketching new concepts. This time, I would tackle the mark first because it was the only element I was feeling good about. As opposed to one pixel divided into four smaller pixels, I decided to create a 3-D pixel that would use only 3 colors (Ahh, back to simplicity. This was starting to feel really good.) But what to do about the letter forms?
As I was staring at print outs of the first 3 versions, my eyes kept coming back the the “we are” in version three. By far, one of my favorite fonts is Helvetica Neue. By itself, it is clean and modern with excellent x-height in the lowercase forms. And, I asked myself, why am I trying to reinvent the wheel? The letter forms for the name is staring you right in the face.
So, I launched Illustrator and starting playing with the kerning of the letters to give it the right amount of spacing. There was some slight customization of the stem of the “p” so that it would not extend beyond the baseline of the logo mark. I also changed the color and weight of the two words for contrast. The logo now read perfectly and there was no confusion about what our name was.
- The letter forms were now set in Helvetica Neue with kerning between the letters, slight modification of the “p” character and set in varying weights for contrast
- I kept the shape created in version 3 as this was the best of that version
- The pixel icon now took on a 3-D look and feel and was reduced to the 3 strongest colors from version 3
Though it took several drafts to get where we are, I had finally reached a version that I was completely happy with. The logo was still modern and linear, as in the first version, but no longer felt cold and box-like. Recognizing that I was not going to find the emotion I wanted with my custom letters also went a long way. Once I stop pursuing that concept, I found the right combination of letters to perfectly represent our name and leave no room for confusion.