Admittedly, it's been a while since I've last posted.
In that time professionally a lot has changed for me. I have in fact been writing blog posts, but they are happening over at my Food Tour website. We have grown considerably since 2017 when we had 2 guides and 2 tours operating both in Somerville to now having 10 tours in Somerville, Boston, Cambridge, and Lowell with more in development and over 20 guides.
Our initial logo was developed in 2017 - my idea was to copy the color palette of one of my favorite Somerville murals that we visit on the tour. I loved the idea of exploring our great state of Massachusetts, and eating all around the state.
That concept still inspires me. But as time wore on, we decided that we really wanted a refresh! We felt that it wasn't like our company had some time-honored logo that couldn't be changed. It was time to start anew and revitalize the brand.
It was frustrating that our current logo couldn't be simplified well or made into a single-color logo that easily. Also the brand name lacked a certain PUNCH! In addition, we wanted to start creating content beyond Massachusetts, bringing in content not only in our amazing state but also to sell merchandise and discuss our travels.
I was lucky enough that one of my esteemed friends Nancy who worked on the Barbara's logo with me when I was a Brand Manager at Barbara's/Weetabix agreed to collaborate on a new logo. I briefed her on our new objectives, and she suggested a variety of logos -- starting from chicken scratch scribbles and then morphing into real options. I knew I didn't want a fork and knife like most other food tours -- I was looking for something new and different!
As a consumer researcher, I love gathering feedback. I emailed and texted these logo options to many people from our guides to our guests to our family and friends to acquaintances.
That helped me narrow in on some positives and negatives of each. I then worked with Nancy to tweak the colors, the fonts, the design -- making sure our off the beaten path elements were added back in and that everything was clear and legible.
And voila, our new logo is born!
'Because we are a small business, I was able to quickly update the website and social media with our new logo. I can't say I don't miss elements of the older logo, but I felt that we need to keep running forward - to constantly strive to make our tours and processes and branding better!
And the logo was developed just in time -- we are working on a new website for the tours since it's been harder and harder to organize the current website which I designed on a less forgiving template. There's currently too much white space on the website, and there's so much more opportunity to brand it as our own without losing the friendliness or authenticity.
Recently I listed to an interesting podcast by Malcolm Gladwell called Revisionist History. My husband and I love the song "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, and I was interested to learn that he had revised it over 80 times. In the podcast, which I recommend, Gladwell speaks about being a Picasso or a Cezanne: both important painters. Picasso was able to create a brilliant work of art that stood the test of time -- the first time. Cezanne revised his paintings over and over, taking longer to create something brilliant. And to top it all off, the song Hallelujah, Gladwell explains, almost didn't get recognized as one of the best of all time. The early versions of Cohen's song weren't as good - melodically or lyric-wise - and it took a random version being heard by Jeff Buckley while house sitting in NY for it to be sung (and improved) by him, and then the untimely early death of Buckley to make it go viral.
Our food tour business like most startups I know (at least the bootstrapping ones) is more like a Cezanne. We are constantly tweaking and updating and retraining and improving. We take our feedback seriously and always seek to improve the guest experience. It definitely feels like a labor of love, and we are hopeful that the new website will help us share our passion with new guests and readers.
As many of you know, I helped design the "new" Stop & Shop logo of 2007-ish. I was so proud of the "fruit bowls" logo and colorful new refresh of the dated stop light logo. When the recent recession hit, the company reverted its plans back to short term promotions instead of fully updating and renovating the stores to be all about "great food" and the store of the future. Over time, they retracted some of their growth plans and eventually merged with Delhaize. Imagine my surprise when I saw a new Stop & Shop store on Needham Street in Newton that used a simpler version of the old stop sign logo. It turns out they're now going back to a similar version of the old old logo -- and interestingly towards salad bars which honestly I LOVE but am well aware of their ability to be a breeding ground of bacteria. Although I'm not at all involved in their branding or marketing now, it makes me wonder if they were never able to achieve the promise of their 2007 logo and instead decided to settle on what they think is a more modern version of the retro logo. I can imagine they did a lot of consumer research to determine this direction. I'm sure their loyal fans felt nostalgia towards the old logo, and other customers probably felt less loyalty to Stop & Shop and therefore liked the idea of a logo that wasn't too aspirational and didn't (over)promise too much that the brand experience couldn't deliver. Either way, this approach reminds me of the Cezanne approach of tweaking and modifying (albeit costing much $$$ to replace.)
I also heard recently that after the sale to Post Cereal, the Barbara's packaging will be updated as well. It also pains me to see some of my hard work be revised as I had redesigned and wrote all copy on the new packaging -- yes there was lots of opportunity to take it in a different direction that at the time I wasn't able to influence; that's hierarchy at play. I just hope that the new Brand Managers are sensitive and loyal to the brands' initial vision of being a pioneer in the natural and organics space and not a mainstream, commercial brand with less soul. We shall see.
Ultimately, brands speak volumes but take a long time and money and feedback to get right. It's not always able to please everyone, believe me - I know (and some guests are HARSH!). And I'm sure our food tours' logo and website will be revised again and again as we grow. It's what keeps life interesting, helps us find ways to communicate better, to deliver better, to share our passion and vision, and get closer to that brilliance we all seek.