The Braille Monitor                                                                                       October 2002

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A Conversation with Whozit

by Mary Ellen Jernigan

From the Editor: Since the unveiling of Whozit at the convention in July many people have raised important technical questions about how to use our new logo effectively and with consistency. What follows answers many of those questions. Here it is:

National Federation of the Blind


Date: August 19, 2002

From: Mrs. Jernigan

To: Fellow Federationists

Re: My conversation with Whozit

Mary Ellen Jernigan in conversation with Whozit.
Mary Ellen Jernigan in conversation with Whozit

I write to report on a long conversation I had with Whozit this morning. First of all Whozit is very proud to be our symbol and is absolutely determined to become universally and instantly recognized. Whozit is also a little intimidated by everything that has to be accomplished to get all people everywhere to know at a glance that they are truly hearing from the Voice of the Nation's Blind whenever they see any of our materials. Whozit says that people get mixed up easily, especially if they don't see exactly the same thing in exactly the same way every time they see it. But they also like bright colors and want new things to look at, and they get neat ideas that they want to try out, and everybody has a different thought about what looks best. Whozit also reminded me that printing with more than one color can be expensive and that we have to be careful with our money.

So Whozit is worried about how to achieve the kind of universal, instant recognition that Nike and Kleenex have without having to make so many rules that everybody gets confused and nobody has any fun. Whozit likes to have fun.

I told Whozit not to worry about such things--that Federationists know about discipline and how to take the long view to get where we want to be. We won't just make rules. We'll think about what will work and what makes sense. We'll think about the tradeoffs between variety and universal recognition, between flexibility and universal recognition, and between personal preference and universal recognition. In the end we'll find just the right balance between all of these things and universal recognition. Whozit seemed much relieved, and we settled down to some serious thinking about the specifics of all those tradeoffs.

"Since I'm made up of four really vibrant colors," Whozit said, "couldn't we agree that, if I'm not in all four colors, I'll at least be in one of my own colors only? I think that would help people learn to recognize me more quickly."

"Makes sense to me," I said. "Except, I would add black since so much printing is done in black only, and probably gold and silver for some specialty applications like jewelry and certificates."

"Good idea. I hadn't thought about jewelry," Whozit replied.

"What about white?" Whozit asked next. "You know everybody loved the new Monitor cover with the background in purple and me in a lighter shade."

"That's called a reverse," I told Whozit. "Reverses let you do a lot with just one color of ink, and, if you add screens, you can get even more special effects and still be paying for only one color."

"So reverses and screens are okay?" Whozit asked.

"Yes, if we stick to one of your main colors, I think we should permit them because of the variety it gives at a low cost."

"Cost is really important," Whozit agreed and then said, "What do we do about the Internet?"

"That's easy," I replied. "It doesn't cost anything extra at all to use colors on a Web site, so I don't see any reason not to put you up there always in all four of your own exact colors with black and gray text. There's no reason to make any color compromises at all on the Internet."

"That's great," was Whozit's reply. "Tens of thousands of people can see me exactly as I am every day. They'll really start to recognize us then."

"That's the whole idea," I said.

Then Whozit said, "You know, the logo isn't just me. It's me and the letters `NFB' and the words `National Federation of the Blind!' I'm really just there to get people to focus on all of us as the Voice of the Nation's Blind. So isn't it important to get visual consistency and instant recognition on this part, too?"

Resisting the temptation to give Whozit a quick grammar lesson on the use of objective- and nominative-case pronouns, I simply replied, "Right on, Whozit!" "The letters and text should always be in exactly the same font and, unless black ink isn't being used on the piece at all, should always be in black and 50 percent screened black (which comes out as gray). There is really no reason ever to vary this part except for one color, nonblack applications."

"Wait! I'm getting confused. Can we stop and summarize all this?" Whozit asked me.

"Sure," I said. "Try this:

"1. When we can afford it, you appear in all four of your vibrant colors.

"2. You can appear by yourself (that is, without our initials and name) in any one of your colors or in black, gold, or silver. You can be a reverse or screen of any of these colors.

"3. When you appear as our complete logo (that is, you along with our initials and name) in one color of ink, you and our initials can be in any one of your colors (unscreened) and our name in a 50 percent screen of that same color. Or the complete logo can be a reverse of that color.

"4. When you appear as our complete logo in two colors, one of them must be black with our initials unscreened and our name screened at 50 percent black. You can be 100 percent of any one of your colors, but blue is strongly preferred.

"5. The font (that is the type style) used for our initials, our name, and our affiliate, division, and program names can never be changed.

"6. Various parts of you (that is, any of your five elements) can be scattered about in all sorts of fun ways, but these scattered shapes have to be your exact shapes.

"7. You can be huge or tiny, but whatever size you are, our initials and name and any affiliate, division, or program names have to grow or shrink in the same proportion that you do.

"8. You should always try to get yourself on the front side of anything we publish in your complete logo version. We don't want any possibility that people will miss seeing you and our initials and name.

"9. You should stand to the left of our initials whenever you can instead of on top of them. Sometimes the shape of what you're dealing with won't let you do this, but we want your left-side version to be the standard way for you to appear.

"10. Remember to get the tag line (`Voice of the Nation's Blind') in as frequently as possible. It looks especially good at the bottom of the page or directly under the full logo. But always precede it with your crescent shape, and don't ever change the font."

"You mean, that's all there is to it?" Whozit asked.

"I think so," I replied. "At least until someone else asks something we haven't thought about."

"This isn't so bad after all. Is this how we're going to figure all this out--by talking about it and trying to decide what makes sense?"

"Yes, Whozit. That's the way Federationists always do it."

"Am I a Federationist?"

"Yes, Whozit, and you're going to be a good one. Just relax."

"But be disciplined. Right?"

"Yes, Whozit."

I expect Whozit and I will have other conversations from time to time, but for now this is how the two of us left things.

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