I Do Care About What You Think — The Photograph of Me
“I’m sure he’s a wonderful person, but that photo/banner still bugs the crap out of me. It’s entirely gratuitous. I’m sure he doesn’t care what I think, but Brian, if you’re reading, maybe consider changing it to something else?”
I realize I most likely am opening that proverbial can of worms by responding to this comment posted by FlyerTalk member nineworldseries — but I do care about what people think.
In fact, listening to what readers think is ironically why I chose to use a photograph of myself as part of the branding of The Gate. My thought process was that I wanted to use a photograph of myself as a symbolic way of assuring readers that I stand behind the articles which I write and post; that I am not hiding behind some pseudonym and yet another blue logo on BoardingArea; and that I am held accountable whenever I post incorrect information or commit an error — which unfortunately happens at times, no matter how diligently I attempt to prevent that from happening.
The use of a photograph of me is also supposed to emulate something similar to the identity of a column in a newspaper. It is a unique way of instantly identifying who wrote the content you are about to read…
…but things did not go exactly as planned.
The Move From FlyerTalk to BoardingArea
The tagline to The Gate from its debut in August of 2006 to Thursday, July 31, 2014 was “Check In Check Out the Best of FlyerTalk”; and FlyerTalk was no longer going to be the sole intent of the theme and purpose of The Gate, as I wanted to inject more of myself and my experiences into the articles which I write.
While discussions were ongoing pertaining to The Gate moving back to BoardingArea, this was the design of the front “page” of BoardingArea as late as Friday, June 20, 2014.
Look at how small were the graphics identifying each weblog.
With that in mind, I took the black-and-white background from the original logo and faded it while placing a color portrait of myself in the foreground, as I wanted something which would uniquely identify me — especially as I became the only writer for The Gate.
On Friday, July 18, 2014 — as part of an e-mail message I sent to Randy Petersen — I wrote that “I toyed around for a few minutes with a very rough idea — not the final art — for a graphic for The Gate; and I just wanted to know what are your thoughts.” This led to the final graphic which currently identifies The Gate…
Instead, I saw this gigantic photograph of myself due to the fact that the front “page” of BoardingArea underwent a significant design change. Mortified is the word which immediately comes to my mind when I saw just how large was that photograph of me.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination narcissistic in any way; and the use of my photograph as part of the logo of The Gate is not meant to be gratuitous — but with a photograph of me that large on the front “page” of BoardingArea, I can certainly understand why some people might feel that way.
The Problem With Branding
The problem with branding is that you cannot simply switch from one identity to another, as that affects your audience. The Gap and JC Penney are two of many companies which attempted changes to their brands — not that their more familiar branding was exactly the best ever in the corporate world — and met what could have been disastrous results had they not reverted back.
Because of the moves which The Gate has experienced during its history — debuting at FlyerTalk in August of 2006; moving to BoardingArea as one of its original weblogs on Thursday, December 27, 2007; moving back to FlyerTalk on Wednesday, May 4, 2011; and returning to BoardingArea on Friday, August 1, 2014 — I have had to build and rebuild readership four times, as The Gate suffered from an identity crisis from all of those moves. Because of this, I am naturally hesitant to effect yet another change — especially as readership has steadily increased.
Also, there is the possibility in the not-too-distant future that BoardingArea might undergo another change in design on its front “page” — and if that is the case, I would rather wait until after that happens before refreshing and updating the logo of The Gate.
I will have to eventually update the logo of The Gate anyway, as the photograph of me currently being used is now several years old — but I just do not want that logo to be yet another generic reference to an airline gate or points or miles or travel. I want for it to be unique and instantly identifiable.
I am always open to constructive feedback. If you have any ideas on what you think would help improve The Gate, please let me know…
…because even though I might not always agree, I do care about what you think.