Love it. Hate it. Brand identity acts as a secret weapon in modern culture. Think about everyday items. Whether it be clothing, that favorite place to eat, or practically any household good, it’s only natural to go with something that you recognize and trust. And why not? Companies earn trust by delivering on quality. Keep up the quality and a following could flourish. Progress from there and a loyal community can grow. It’s no shame that the very same principles can be applied to cinema.
In this setting the arsenal manifests with a variety of forms; accomplished writers, cinematographers, directors, and ever since the rise of stardom, favorite actors, and actresses too. Studio logos can function like a seal of quality, moments before the film attraction begins. But while there are perks to using a brand, it’s a risk. In an ever saturated market, it’s vital to construct an identity that’s memorable, stylish, and unique. So to decide what went into our own signature of cool, we did some research on the designs and animations used by existing film studios.
The first item on the agenda… find a name.
Tempting as it may be to pluck catchy words from the great ether – and interest can certainly arise from being an enigma – I think it’s a million times better to construct an image that actually means something to you. There’s a personal connection being made there because you’re sharing something with your audience. Ridley and Tony Scott did exactly that with Percy Main Productions, a feature film company named for the village Percy Main where their father was raised.
With time the studio would evolve how we recognize it, becoming Scott Free. But not before success had already been sown. Using your own name for a company at the outset of a career is a dicey move. Fall at the first hurdle and you could end up tarnishing your very identity. Whether intentional or not, the Scotts played the game well by creating distance to fall back on. Being what we are, an unproven indie studio, it felt wise to follow in their footsteps and seek a more modest moniker.
Cinematic suffixes (and prefixes) are a popular tool to distinguish film production companies from other industries. However, inspiration is found, via cinematography, editing, or another aspect of the medium, a prominent number of studios choose to reference moving image in some way.
Diverse examples are represented within Warner Bros. Pictures, Mosaic Media, Unique Features, Spyglass Entertainment, Ghoulardi Film Company, Clyde Is Hungry Productions, and, Cruel and Unusual Films, to list a select few. Each extension crucially shapes the name. Remove the cinematic angle, and what remains? Warner Bros., Mosaic, Unique, Spyglass, Ghoulardi Company, Clyde Is Hungry, and Cruel and Unusual. It isn’t quite the same.
An exception to the case may lie with Warner Bros. thanks to our retrospective lens over the studio’s profound reputation. One which has been reinforced through decades of history. For a new and fledgling film company such as ourselves, however, I feel the adoption of a cinematic anchor is a necessary addition. The only drawback to consider is the heightened challenge to stand out from an expanding crowd of emerging film producers.
(Filmmaker. Now that’s something you won’t see every day).
It’s fantastic to have a wonderful story inlaid with the origins of a name, and the tale of Studio Ghibli is a fine one to tell. For director Hayao Miyazaki, the motif of wind was intrinsic for the Japanese animation film studio. The spelling of Ghibli is an Italian word, based on the Arabic name for the Sirocco, a hot Mediterranean air blowing in the Sahara Desert. The notion being that the studio would blow through the Japanese animation industry like a hot wind.
Taking a page out of Mr. Miyazaki’s book, I wanted to instill a powerful ethos right from the start of constructing our identity. In the beginning, the original working title for our production company was Renegade Films. The sentiment being, that we wanted to form a detached studio. A production company to make films how we want them, without interference from any other party. Something underground. Isolated. And with bold ambitions to follow the less likely road to the cinema.
As it happened, Renegade is by no means unique. A few iterations already exist via Renegade Pictures within the United Kingdom and Renegade Films across the pond in America and Australia overseas. Although our sentimentality stayed, it was back to the drawing board. Because we had to be distinct. To find a name like no other. Then suddenly, as if an apparition perchance of a dream, the name for a studio hit me. It was obvious.
It’s a tribute, a connection I want to share with you. But what that is, I’m not ready to reveal, just yet. Detectives, grab your flipbooks. You’re simply going to have to come with me for the ride.