The Deepest Cut: The Brand Allegory of the Cutting Edge
In the journey of brand strategy, storytelling and design, a number of allegories constantly emerge. There is the journey, the road less traveled and the search for the pathway there are brand symbols of shining and epiphany, mythic storytelling and deep legend-making. And there is the quest for fire.
Knives are for cutting.
They are for cutting through objects — getting through, to the other side.
They are for sharpening — honing an edge.
Cutting deeper, crisper, more precise separation —
from one layer, to another.
In cutting, a knife gets
to the sharpened edge of things.
It goes to the bone.
I started in the journey of
the study of knives in Colorado,
the Girvin farm, Flagler.
It was there that my farm-living Grandma taught me — sharpening knives — which was after an earlier understanding of throwing knives and mumbly-peg, which I learned
here — a happy little childhood book.
To make knives cut better, they have to be cared for, sharpened and protected.
I learned that from Momo, my father’s Mother — and she polished and ground blades — slow but sure, precise and careful, closely-watched edges.
I still have one of her knives, that I’ve kept for decades, a long-polished flaying knife. From the farm, from Flagler.
Branding allegory —
the symbolism of the blade?
In the journey to the heart of the brand, the pulsing beat of an enterprise — the exploration needs to go in, get sharpest and cut deep to save the best, flay the rest. You have what you need – keep it lean, keep it sharp, cut to the bone.
After growing up, I learned more about knives, working on this brand, Sandra Collins — our work: gallery signing, floors, collateral, packaging, promotions and events —
all art, all craft.
But knives as a key offering,
as she intones:
Specialty: the knife as art. Only gallery in the country to seriously represent knifemakers as artists. Knives from the Sandra Collins Gallery have been requested by museums in the United States as well as in Europe for exhibition purposes. Knifemakers represented, but not limited to, the United States, Japan, France, South Africa and Germany.
A comprehensively detailed design system —
and, for her:
everything perfected and detailed.
Gallery shopfront, brand, collateral.
There was a choice of materiality that related to the metalism of knives and their manufacture — we took that into print, as well as signage and built works.
Patinized foil and color stamping.
In this string of efforts, for Sandra Collins —
I first met her and worked with her in Portland —
on the design planning for the Oregon School of Arts & Crafts, then Detroit at the DIA Friends of Asian Art, then on to Birmingham — Sandra Collins and Nikko Galleries.
This work was always about the art of brand, in the context of place-making and storytelling art —
to the craft
of extraordinary objects.
As some know, I worked in Java with Dawn A. Clark, AIA — we worked on several projects in Jakarta — one, to Dawn’s innovation, led to the use of symbolic patterning, the parang — a Royal batik wave form, as a foundation for branding spaces, floor and ceiling patterning, retail configurations and merchandising.
But that journey, too, led to another knife — the kris.
I’d written about this journey earlier.
In Indonesia, particularly in Yogyakarta, I sought out a kris maker, to learn more of his journey — making blades, which is as much spiritual as it is alchemical.
To make the kris is a cleansing purification — a perfected
And the kris blade is more so an emblem of the soul of the holder, the wearer of the blade — it is one of the person, and one of the family that owns the kris.
To branding symbolisms?
Study your edge —
how clean, the line of the blade?
Polish and hone —
look at the details of your holism, how the speaking happens.
Get sharper —
tune the message and visual of your brand.
Protect your edge —
a sharp blade
needs to be preserved,
handled with care.
I’m always looking for
the deeper reveal on
the why of doing.
t i m | decatur island studios
BRANDSPIRIT AND THE JOURNEY OF IMAGINATION:
WHY BRANDS ARE LOVED:
Girvin strategies of memory +
enchantment = audience engagement
Knife — from high art to low craft, I walk the alleys, looking: