The Birth of the Owl
coming up with a name for new publishing imprint? what fun! and at first it was. i made lists. my friends, family and colleagues made lists. we had brainstorms on trains, in pubs, in cafes; on flipcharts and notebooks and napkins. complete strangers at parties joined in the game. and we did come up with some great names. but they were never any good: someone, somewhere in the world had already thought of them all. (there were some less good ones, too . . . my mother, with no hint of irony, one day triumphantly suggested albatross.)
i have to say there were times when the pressure to come up with a name felt very much like an albatross round my neck. it was all anyone ever asked me about. and they asked a lot
. i wanted something fresh and light, with a bit wit to it, something that would sit equally well on books for all ages. birds are good: think puffin, kingfisher, nosy crow, bluebird . . . even guinness had its toucan! and i liked the idea of a name that suggested a creature who could become our emblem, without the creature itself being in the name.
and then one day i heard myself saying, “oh, it doesn’t matter two hoots” and then “hang on . . .” we tried in out amongst ourselves and it seemed to fit. we looked online and could find no other book-related enterprises with the name. had we really done it at last? later that day i was chatting to emily gravett about the book she was working on (tidy
) and tried two hoots
out on her. emily’s instant “oh yes, that’s it, go with that!” gave me confidence. then ten minutes later i received by email an updated image of the copyright page from tidy:
that confirmed it: the owl looked so at home.
next, our clever art director, chris inns, played around with some ideas for the logo, using emily’s owl.
he wanted to integrate the owl as closely as possible, and had the idea of using owls for os. two felt like too many, so we opted for one owl (hooting twice?). and then senior designer sharon king-chai took over and tried some variations.
as soon as we saw her hand lettering, we knew we had our logo. a few tweaks to emily’s owl to round it out a bit and help the illusion of it being an o, and we were done. six months to come up with a name, and a week to design the logo. more usually the logo would take the time, but thanks to emily and the designers, in the end two hoots came together with ease.
and what fun we are having with our owl! a personal thank you once again to emily gravett for creating him (without even being asked), and imbuing our branding with so much personality. he is proving the perfect character to represent the playfulness and joy of the books, and wonderfully adaptable. expect to see much more of him. hoot! hoot!