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Have a cow, man

have a cow man
Have a cow, man

I’ve been fielding (pun intended) a lot of questions recently about why cows feature so much in my Tweets and visual identity. People seem genuinely baffled by it, until I refer them to my surname, which is Metcalfe. You know, Met -CALF-e? See what I did there? This blog post is a musing on visual identity and whether you can be too subtle, plus the origins of my surname.

In my previous blog post, Twop Twitter Twips for Tweeps, I said that:

Everyone needs a “gimmick” to stand out from the Twitter crowd (or should that be herd). My gimmick is the cow theme that runs through my Twitter and other social media channels, both visually and through puns and emojis. My surname is Metcalfe. Geddit?

Whilst this might not be to everyone’s taste, feedback given so far has been positive, and it gives another dimension to my Tweets and acts as a visual shorthand for brand recognition.

Whilst it seems obvious to me why I have cows as my visual identity – my logo is a stylised, minimalistic, almost tribal, cow graphic (which would make a cracking tattoo):

Giles Metcalfe Digital Cow Logo
Giles Metcalfe Digital Cow Logo

and I pepper my Tweets with pictures of and visual references to cows – the number of people who’ve asked me why recently has led me to think on.

Am I being too subtle with it? Am I being too obvious? Am I overdoing the cow references? Does it help or hinder my business? Do people like it or hate it? Is it me, or them?

Being prone to excoriating self-analysis, this sort of thing keeps me awake at night.

Feedback I’ve received so far has been positive though:

  • People like cows
  • People like the fact that I use cow imagery
  • People like me and my business
  • People say keep doing what you’re doing

All good. Validation from people really helps. Everyone needs some encouragement every now and then.

When individuals engage me in face-to-face conversation about it, I explain where the name “Metcalfe” comes from and the cow/calf connection. The story may be apocryphal, but it goes a little something like this. I quote at length from a great article on the legends and traditions of Yorkshire:

Take, for example, the story which explains the meaning of the name of Metcalf*, one of the oldest families of Yorkshire, of whose more ancient members it is recorded that one was High Forester of Wensleydale in the time of Richard I., that another fought at Agincourt, and that a third, when High Sheriff in the time of Queen Mary, met her judges at York with a cavalcade of three hundred attendants of his own name all mounted upon white horses of the Wensleydale breed.

In the Saxon time, when Wensleydale was a large forest, the dales- men of Rydale were thrown into a perfect panic by the hearing of strange sounds in a wood not far off, and the seeing of what seemed to be strange animals in the twilight.

In this emergency, a meeting of dalesmen was held, when the sug- gestion was made that two of their number should proceed to the wood and unravel the mystery. Oswald, an unmarried man of some position, volunteered for the service, and after a little hesitation, Wilfrid, another landowner, consented to join him.

Armed with boar-spears, the two men started on what seemed a perilous mission. By-and-by a sound was heard, which Wilfrid affirmed to be the roar of a lion, and finally an animal was seen moving slowly towards them.

Exclaiming ” It is a lion ! ” Wilfrid threw down his hunting-spear, fled through the wood, and on reaching the village, informed his fellow- dalesmen that he had seen an enormous lion, which was doubtless devouring Oswald by that time.

Oswald, however, proceeded cautiously forward, spear in position. ” e went on—it came on—and he met—what ! a calf ! a black, or, as some authorities say, a red calf !

From that time the courageous Oswald was known as Oswald Met-Calf, and the harmless animal, so boldly met, was given a place upon his armorial shield ; and, in like manner, the cowardly Wilfrid ever after bore about with him the token of his ignominious flight, in the name of Wilfrid Lightfoot.”

It would obviously be a great pity to disturb so delightfully childish a story as this,—to suggest that the name accounts for the story, and not the story for the name.

Indeed so. Always print the legend (you can read the article in full here).

*NB. The “e” at the end of Metcalf is interchangeable, and Medcalf, Medcalfe, Midcalfe, Midcalf and Mitcalf are also variants, depending on the spelling, the mood and the hearing of whoever wrote out the birth certificates.

My family directly descends from those original Yorkshire Metcalfs, and my ancestor is Jack Metcalf – ‘Blind Jack of Knaresborough‘, who was a notable Civil Engineer. He constructed roads all across the North of England, not just in Yorkshire, and was famed for the straightness of them and his mastery of Quantity Surveying, despite being blind.

There is a Barbara Asquith statue of him sitting on a bench in Knaresborough Market Place, across from the Blind Jack pub.

Blind Jack Metcalf statue
Blind Jack Metcalf statue

The aforementioned Metcalf/Metcalfe coat of arms shows three black cows, and – though it’s been enhanced over the years – looks like this.

Metcalfe Coat of Arms
Metcalfe Coat of Arms

There’s even a Metcalfe Society, with a Facebook page.

So there you have it. Still confused as to why I use cows? It really is as simple and basic as the fact that my surname is Metcalfe, I like them, and it makes me stand out. It’s become almost like visual shorthand.

Bart Simpson says “Don’t have a cow, man!” I disagree. I say have as many as you want.

don't have a man, cow
Don’t have a man, cow

Please tweet me at @GilesMDigital with your thoughts on this, and feel free to use the hashtag “#cowarmy”. Hopefully we’ll get it trending. I’d be really interested to get your opinion on the points raised here. Thank you.

Categories
Blog Guest Blog

7 Steps to building a brilliant brand

branding
Branding

In the first of what I hope will be a regular series of posts from different Guest Bloggers, please welcome Charlotte from F&R Designs. Charlotte lives in North Dorset, and is studying for BA (Hons) in Graphic Design as well as running her design business. Connect with her on her WebsiteFacebook page or Tweet her! Here are her 7 steps for building a brilliant brand.

Step One

Tag Line – A memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. I believe this is a good place to start. You can brainstorm from here, and you already have your company name but you will need something that will run alongside your logo. A world famous brand like Coca-Cola has had a few over the years, but probably the most well known one is ‘The Original’ (Coke think that there are lots of imitation colas). Ask yourself – how do you want prospective clients to remember you?

Step Two

Colour pallet – When thinking about colour you may have a definite pallet in mind but really you need to research it as different colours mean different things to different people and in different cultures. Have a read through colour theory as we tend to associate colours with feelings. Color Matters has some great information on this. Once you have chosen your colour scheme you can apply it to a logo when you have one, which leads nicely on to step three.

Step Three

Logo – You’ve got your company name, but do you have any ideas for an appropriate and clever logo? Work with a designer as this could be the make or break of how you are seen and remembered. There are lots of graphics applications online that you can use to build a logo, but I think this is one area where you can’t afford to cut corners! I wrote a detailed blog post on logos – check it out.

Step four

Voice – Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. How do you want your customers to ‘hear’ you? This needs to be taken into account when presenting yourself, be it in person or online. Pictures also need to be taken into consideration as well, just remember to use the same tone throughout. Consistency is key.

Step five

Social media – You know your own product best, but who will it attract? Who’s your audience? Where do they hang out? If you can’t answer these questions, you could speak to Giles regarding social media marketing and advertising. He will identify your social media “tribe” on all of the different social media channels and promote your services or products to them. It’s not all sell, sell, sell though. It is vitally important to have conversations with people – it is called social media after all. Remember the 4-1-1 rule for Twitter – “For every one self-serving tweet, you should re-tweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others.”

Step six

Integrity – Now you’ve got everything in place and your product is out there, you need to be true to what you’ve promised in your tag line. Integrity is how all the great brands became great! It’s a truism that word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and it’s a real compliment when I’m recommended by someone else. These people are not just satisfied clients, they’re Brand Ambassadors, and your biggest reputational assest. Testimonials from real people help build integrity and trust. Consider using online reviews for transparency and building trust, if it’s appropriate to your business.

Step seven

Don’t stress – Now this is a big one. Everyone talks about numbers and followers on social media like it’s the be-all and end-all, but raw numbers mean nothing. It’s really all about quality not quantity. Why have followers who are’nt your target audience, unless they actually enhance your business in some other way (a business guru who is a major influencer, for instance)? Chances are they won’t actually interact with you, and it’s far better to have less followers that do actually comment and react to your product or services for real, rather than have 1000s of followers who never mention you. Don’t be tempted to buy followers, ever. It harms your brand perception, destroys integrity, and exposes your business to some very dodgy people whom you really don’t want to give your credit card details to! Plus, don’t sweat the metrics. Your domain authority (DA) or your Klout score really isn’t all that important to your bottom line – just get the fundamentals right and enjoy it!

I hope that these 7 steps to building a brilliant brand have been a help when considering your brand initially, or with re-branding. Please visit me for your graphic design needs in the South West.

signiture

 

www.fandrdesigns.co.uk

@fresh_rosy

charlotte@fandrdesigns.co.uk