Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Creation Story

This being the inaugural blog post and all, it seems fitting to start off with the story of how Hindsight came to be. The decision to start my own practice was not easy; I had been part of a very large clinic for almost eighteen years and in that time developed cherished relationships with people and their animals. But deep down I knew it was time to branch out on my own, and though I felt confident in my ability to succeed in the veterinary side of things, it was vitally important to develop a name and logo that was both meaningful and attractive, and for that I needed help.

I have a middling amount of creativity; I can write and am pretty handy with a camera, but my most valuable skill is the ability to conceptualize and communicate a vision. It’s the execution where everything goes to hell. Smart enough to realize I couldn’t do this in my own, I turned to the net and googled Seattle area designers. After clicking through a bunch of portfolios and following up with interviews, I eventually decided on Akira Morita and Dipika Kohli, the dynamic husband-and-wife team behind
Design Kompany, who had almost dropped off my list when I discovered they had relocated to North Carolina. I had thought distance might hinder communication, but at our first Skype meeting there was an almost audible click of meshing personalities, and I knew this was the right crew for me.

One of the more rewarding aspects of working with Akira and Dipika is their commitment to getting it right and develop a name and design that speak to both clients and me. It was weeks before we even thought about a name, or put pen to paper for a logo. Instead, it began with a lot of talk of what the clinic was about, what it stood for, who my clients are, and, when it comes right down to it, who I am. This conversation produced a group of about a hundred words that defined the new practice and then painstakingly winnowed this list down to seven keywords: integrity, compassionate, confident, talented, attentive, passion, and insightful.

mind map
These words were the seeds for an online mind-map, where for days we would go and free associate. Subjects emerged that one wouldn’t normally associate with the keywords: mountain and river, turtleshell and spiderweb, dancers and samurai, and many, many others found their way onto a map that wound up more like a rabbit warren than a L’Enfant layout. We also constructed a mood board: a collection of images that reflected the sentiment of our seven keywords. Elements of color, texture, and theme emerged from both image and word—building blocks for the naming and design stage.

It was Dipika who had the spark of inspiration. Though we constantly exchanged emails, tossing names back and forth like a game of hot potato, she waited until our next Skype meeting to present it, wanting to see my reaction. “What do you think of…Hindsight?” It took a few seconds for the word to sink in. It made so much sense: one simple word that evoked feelings of vision and clarity, but also the idea of learning from the past. Dipika had hit it out of the park. She knew it too, for she had the same smile on her face that my boys get when they know they’ve just done something really cool, like flip on a trampoline or write a clever story. Over the next few days I’d throw it out to coworkers and clients and every single person thought the same thing: perfect. We had a winner of a name, now we just had to develop a visual representation of it.

At our next online meeting, Akira and Dipika presented some very simple concept sketches: more about thematic and structural possibilities than any move towards a logo. A lot of these came from repeated elements in the mood board and mind map: curves, patterns, interconnectedness, and figures in nature. This idea of patterns and connectivity was important because it is so representative of both chiropractic and Chinese medicine.

The team came up with some brilliant, intricate designs that were gorgeous, but a bit too busy to incorporate into a logo. Plus, I liked the lines of the sketches, something crafted by hand, similar to the pencil sketches of the great masters. Dipika sent me a sample: “hindsight” inside a hand drawn circle and we were close, really close. But there was no pattern, no connectedness. She added another circle below and suddenly we had it all: the beginnings of a pattern and feelings of connectedness, motion. The circles are reminiscent of lenses, in line with a sense of vision, or focus. But what colors to use?

Blue came up a lot in the images of the mood board, as did various shades of yellow. Blue though, was my first choice. Looking for inspiration, I had been reading a collection of poems by
Gary Snyder called No Nature, given to me by my good friend Katy. In this collection is a poem called The Blue Sky. Here are two excerpts:

Eastward from here,
beyond Buddha-worlds ten times as
numerous as the sands of the Ganges
there is a world called
its Buddha is called Master of Healing,

And later:

Horse with lightning feet, a mane like
distant rain, the turquoise horse,
a black star for an eye
white shell teeth
Pony that feeds on the pollen of flowers
may he
make thee whole.

So blue it was.

As the design was tweaked, we searched for a brand statement, something short but meaningful to the practice; a tagline if you will. From our conversations, Dipika put together a collection of thoughts that resonated so well I put it on the homepage. Its original form was this:

Close your eyes, listen with your heart.
Feel the energy of the everywhere
distilled before you.
For now, forget the start point, the end point,
and the mechanics of method.
Trace the pattern.
Learn. Heal.

“See” was added to the last line, because it completes the process I go through with every case. To “see” is to take in everything about a patient, searching for that imbalance causing pain, illness or poor performance. From this I try to “learn” what’s going on. I like this word very much because it’s a reminder that every case can teach me something, that I don’t know it all, and will continue to be a student, always. I also want clients to learn from me, and that understanding why we treat a certain way will strengthen their relationship with the animal. “Heal” is of course the goal with any patient, but must come last in the sequence because if you are blind, if you are closed to learning, you will never accomplish this last step.

It is hard to describe how much fun working with both Akira and Dipika has been. We have always been on the same page, but on those occasions when we did differ on details, they always took great pains to explain why one design choice was preferable over another, how subtle changes can speak volumes in the final product.
Edmund Burke said, “Good order is the foundation of all things” and with the help of my new friends in Durham, Hindsight is starting off with a deeper, stronger foundation than I could have ever hoped for.


  1. Wow! Discovered this thanks to Lola and it made my day. "close your eyes, listen with your heart..." so describes what I try to do everyday but have never put it into words quite like this. And "horse with lightening feet..." brought tears. Can't wait to see how this develops. Thank you and looking forward to more.

  2. Thank you for the post. I look forward to visiting your blog often for a visual impulsion!

  3. Michael,

    Thank you so, so much for your kind words here. Akira and I are just so... humbled. It's neat to read your side of the story, too. You took awesome notes!

    More to come, looking forward to it all. No doubts you will do wonders in Oregon!

    Design Kompany