Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

Archive for March 2012

Title is Optional

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For one of my last classes this semester, I’m supposed to design a business card and create a personal website to show my portfolio reel, resume, and blah blah blah to potential clients and the general online public.

What I’m having difficulty with is coming up with a design, a brand, a name for my site. Having a name like Winnie Wong has always caught the (undesired) attention of teachers, classmates, co-workers, drive-thru cashiers, restaurant maitre d’s, acquaintances, and anyone else I’m introduced to. Trust me, If I could go back to being a fresh-off-the-boat 4 year-old, choosing my own name, knowing what I know now – I probably would’ve chosen Sara. But I’ve come to embrace it. The alliteration, the ease of which people actually remember it when they see me their second time, the references – everything from Winnie Cooper to Winnie the Pooh to Winnie, the daughter of Gordon Gekko from Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – it is all good.

But when it comes to naming my site, coming up with a name for a future production studio, I’m not sure Winnie Wong works. In fact, it’s caused me to lose sleep. Sleep that I’m not getting much of these days. (And I don’t mean that in a good way.)

At least, up until now. I was on gchat a little while ago, and a friend of mine, whom I hadn’t seen since his last visit back from Singapore, IM’d me. I’ve always had mentors here and there, and he was one of my first when I started working in SF back in ’06. He was literally my mentor because the company we were working for paired us up and said, “OK, Jeffrey, Winnie is new. Teach her your ways.” Or at least that’s how I’ll always think it went.

We would go on coffee breaks and chat about how things were going at work. We’d meet up for an occasional dinner with our significant others tagging along. We’d run into each other and end up talking for half an hour on the sidewalk. I always looked forward to talking with him because I knew that deep down, I could trust him. He always seemed to give me advice that looked out for my best interest. And he would always play devil’s advocate, helping me to see every side – not just the good, but the bad, the ugly.

Tonight, after catching up (he’s going to be a dad!), I told him about my predicament. (#firstworldproblems)

He first asked me what type of work I want to do after graduating. I told him that I’d love to produce some kind of travel or documentary content where I would help tell the stories of really interesting or eccentric characters in different parts of the world. He then asked why I was so hung up on naming my site or attempting to create a brand name for myself that isn’t my actual name. His actual words, “The name matters a lot less than the content, right?” I had to step back from that one. Of course it does.

JF: “You are the brand. Your name is the brand.”

WW: “I know, I’ve thought it through. I’ve tried things that encompass my name, but my name is so cheesy. So many W’s.”

JF: “People aren’t buying into a notion, or something crisp. They’re investing in you. Why do you think branding is important here?”

WW: “I think in any creative industry, aesthetic is almost as important as content. I think content takes time to build upon, but having a brand image or style that is tied to you makes you that much more memorable and creates a kind of enigma.”

JF: “Ah, ok. I think that’s the most important word of what you just said. First of all, I agree with everything. But it depends on what you’re after. Do you want to be an enigma?”

WW: “No, but I want someone to visit the site and say, ‘Wow, I want to stay here and spend some time here.’ Not just watching videos I produce or contribute to, but to go through to find out who I am and why I do the work I do. It’s a very personal thing.”

JF: “Yes. Obviously, my perspective is biased because I’ve known you for years, but I think you are the type of person who people want to get to know.”

WW: “I guess I want potential clients to be intrigued and also feel the need to reach out and find out more.”

JF: “I think that your name would be fine because it’s really you that people will want to get to know, not a brand name, it’s the personal element you just mentioned.”

WW: “It’s also really easy to get caught up in this whole thing about having a ‘style.’ Creatives are the most judgmental people ever. Ha.”

JF: “Design, aesthetic are really important, no doubt. I just don’t think a clever name is super important at first. Start with your name, and change it later if you like. As a consumer of information, I would rather start out knowing who you are and see you evolve into a brand, than start out as a brand and evolve into a different brand.

I can think of so many people that are successful brands, but I cant think of the people behind successful brand names. As a consumer, I always relate more to people than the brand, but that is just me. People have all different consumption habits. You summed it up well. You want people to engage with your work and you as an artist, and to me, that doesn’t sound like a brand, it sounds too human.”

WW: “I feel sort of caught up in differentiating myself from others in this field.”

JF: “I feel that lasting success comes to the people who put their content before their brand image, and ultimately, the content winds up creating the brand image. If you do one thing really really well, people will pin that on you as your image, whether you like it or not. Then, you have to keep moving forward and letting the content redefine who you are.”

And that is why he is a mentor. Thanks Jeffrey.


Written by winniewongsf

March 21, 2012 at 2:08 am


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Written by winniewongsf

March 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Kony 2012

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Yeah, so there’s a ton of controversy around Invisible Children, the organization that produced and spun this video around the interwebs for everyone to share like mono at party schools. Watch it and decide for yourself whether you want to support or criticize it.

Written by winniewongsf

March 8, 2012 at 12:39 am

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