Aaron Keller, Managing Principal, Capsule

Love and hate are only emotional states, but we’re swimming in murky waters today. In response to a massacre in South Carolina the politicians are fighting to remove the “rebel” flag as an icon. Then, we see a movement here in the Minneapolis community to remove the name John C Calhoun from a lake area. Why stop there, why don’t we dig up his grave and put his head on a spike outside the Calhoun Beach Club? Okay, maybe that’s going too far. Or perhaps the discussion about changing the name of a lake was already too far. Hate has continued to be a theme when it comes to the subject of slavery, the south and racial discrimination.

At the same time, we’ve lowered ourselves into the love pool of gay marriage with the supreme court decision. The love of two individuals can be bonded with a legal piece of paper giving them rights as a couple beyond those of individuals. Love is an interesting word, diametrically opposed to the word above, yet clearly defining an emotion.

Now to a shift of gears and the connection between emotion and symbols. The rainbow has been re appropriated to mean love in the GLBT community. And, the southern symbol of freedom and the right to fight for a belief system (though moronic and wrong) was re appropriated from this flag, the original secession flag of South Carolina. See more at the previous post by Brent Lorentz. Let’s remember none of these flags killed people, though people died below them on battle fields. And, the rainbow doesn’t create love it is just a rainbow. Yet, both insight love and hate, taking people to emotional extremes. Consider the visceral reaction you have to the Swastika, but yet read here all the wonderful meaning associated with it 5,000 years before Hitler re appropriated it to a holocaust.

Now, consider a young man of 29 years old coming out of graduate school at the University of Minnesota with the idea of starting a “design firm” with a design partner, Brian Adducci. All the big roles and financial rewards are going to those kids heading to Wall Street and the financial industry. And, this wide-eyed MBA is starting a firm to design symbols for clients, and his snarky MBA friends ask “you can get paid to do that?”

Well, here we are after writing two books working with clients like Patagonia, 3M, Target, Quirky, SmartWool, Byerly’s and many others. We are in the business of giving brands emotion. We are in the business of designing the symbols which pull people toward brands. We are in the business of designing the very intangible assets driving substantial quantities of value on Wall Street.

And, we love it.