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Tales from mascot kingdom
An approach in determination of an eCS mascot
Figure 1. The e-ball
eComStation needs a mascot. Seriously! We seem to have neglected the importance of something that we can identify with (and even more important: something “we” can be identified by). And to me, despite it's neatness, the techie e-Ball logo of eCS is hard to identify with, compared to the well-known cute little penguin for example.
Just recently, I came across a thread on
os2world that dealt with a possible mascot to be chosen for eComStation. I must admit that my first thought was,
Don't these guys have any serious problems they could care of instead? But while browsing
the thread I noticed that there's a lot more involved in it than one might think at first: Mascots are
logos, and sometimes vice-versa. They help us in associating loads of information to a single name, company, or
product, whether positive or negative, whether based upon personal experiences or (very important for advertising and
marketing) attributes which someone else links to it.
Figure 2. Tux, the Linux mascot
To show the importance of a “mascot,” let's suppose you don't have the faintest idea about Linux. In this case, the friendly-looking, cuddly little penguin gives you the impression that it's something very nice to have, which doesn't consume a lot of time and brings you nothing but joy and fun (and that at no cost). True, this only is the case until you have gained experience with Linux… you will then certainly make up your mind based upon these experiences—which could be just opposite to what you expected—but who cares? If that Linux was for sale, it would have been the penguin who “sold” it to you in the end (along with the teenage nerds in your neighborhood that kept telling you, “All other OSes are crap!”).
To start somewhere for determining eComStation's new “mascot,” let’s have a look at a list of animals that are already chosen by someone and that we almost immediately recognize and link to a company or a product. As mentioned above, we know that penguin of Linux, maybe the dolphin of MySQL, surely the seagulls shape of OpenOffice.org and of course some among you (if not all) remember Art, the tap-dancing elephant. And these are only examples from the IT world! Now add John Deere's deer, the Jaguar car's logo and Puma sportswear just to mention a few. The same is true for non-animal logos in IT world (the Apple fruit, the Sun's steaming cup of Java, or the Apache's feather) - you name it. But let's stick with the animals for now.
If you were to decide—which animal's shape or picture would you prefer to be associated with ecomstation? I'm pretty sure everyone of us can come up with a proposal. Here's my list along with pros and (almost only) cons.
Note that the following list does not claim to be complete, correct, or ordered (either zoologically or alphabetically).
Figure 3. Art, the tap dancing elephant
Whether tap-dancing or not, I don't think an elephant is suitable for ecomstation. First, for those who know the story, it's rather associated with OS/2 than with eCS. Plus, an elephant might not tend to forget, but despite its strength, it's a rather cumbersome and slow animal that doesn't really fit into nowadays picture of streamlined, fast, sleek and miniaturized PCs.
Although some might say: If a tiger fits in a tank, why shouldn't an elephant fit in a PC?
Figure 4. Serenity Systems logo
(BZZT!) Sorry, already “taken” by Serenity Systems. Would have been nice, although swans are not really exciting animals and sometimes their plumage shows dirt stains. But wait, it gets even worse! Close to where we live, there's a resident flock of swans and let me tell you that these animals can be very, very nasty and aggressive, especially towards children, when they see you walk by with a something to eat, say the bread you brought along for the swans. I don't like swans—and you can't even eat them (my apologies to the vegetarians). Your favorite Chinese restaurant's chef might disagree on that, however.
Figure 5. OpenOffice.org logo
Nah, come on! No parrots or sparrows, please. I can't take them seriously—who can? Do we need to mention penguins? I guess not. Raptors on the other hand are okay, but sadly, eagles are already contained in lots of emblems, as well as hawks and falcons. So, if no raptors—why not a scavenger like a vulture? (BZZT!): Ehh…okay, forget it. Might just give the wrong impression on eComStation being a scavenger. On the other hand, thinking of eCS as the successor to a “dead” operating system, well… ;-)
Figure 6. Pink Panther OS/2 pin
The following applies to all sorts of tigers, cougars, lions, panthers and the other purring flea bags: No, Sir! Even the worst psychologist will tell you that any kind of wildcat related logo is for people having big cars and small… well, eh… anyway: It's a show-off logo. And that doesn't fit with what I call a reliable, stable PC operating system. Sorry for “Mac Tiger.”
Oh yes—one exception to the rule: The pink panther. That's cute, fancy and smart. But first: We already had it—remember? Secondly: Can you imagine the amount of money it would take to get hold of the rights to use it? Gosh!
(Note: The photo of the Pink Panther OS/2 pin above appears courtesy of Linda Cain—again, thanks very much Linda!)
Sea lions and seals:
Sorry—there's too much “arctica” in them, which is reminiscent of the penguin. Yeah, I know that penguins are from the South Pole rather than the northern one, but still the link to the Linux mascot is too obvious. Someone might say “They have a seal, but in their subconscious, they wanted a penguin instead.”
Figure 7. MySQL logo
(I have omitted the dolphins here because they are already in use by MySQL AB.)
Whales are great. Nice animals. Unfortunately, thanks also to Japanese efforts, they are an endangered species by now and are close to extinction. We don't need that connection.
Orcas on the other hand are very strong, fast, elegant and intelligent beings. But unfortunately someone made a video once about how they “play” funny games with seals… namely to kill them. Thus, orcas are not politically correct animals I'm afraid. At least, they have bad press it seems (and that doesn't fit with eComStation… which has no press at all <g>).
- Other Sea creatures:
First: Forget about any kind of shells either because of the Oil company (copyright!), or because of the command-line interface environments called korn, bash or whatever. Seamonkeys (are these real animals?) are obviously out of question as well. Any type of fish might imply “Would you like fries with your [operating system name]…?” An octopus would be great, because it resembles my picture of the WPS class model. And what about a stingray? Although there was a (still gorgeous) GM car named like that, it could be an option. But I'm no scuba diver and to my impression (although being elegant and majestic) stingrays appear… well, boring after some time.
A shark on the other hand would be cool: Sharks have already existed for millions of years and have not changed much during that time. Seems like mother nature did a hell of a good design here. But even if we take just a fin for the logo, it's either show-off or negative—remember the movie “Jaws”?
Wow, wait! We have a reader's comment just coming in: “Why not a crab—that would match perfectly with my OS/2 software!” Oh wait, there's a typo and it actually should read “crap”… ehh… sorry.
Figure 8. Apache Ant logo
Any six- or eight-legged wiggly, crawling beast is out of question as it can easily be smashed by a single step. Bad choice. Besides, the ant also is in use already by the Apache folks for their well known build tool. And those flying creatures, well, flies for example love crap (Windows user group logo?). Bees and wasps have stings… uh-oh… better not. Too many bad associations with these creatures. But wait! The butterfly, however… (BZZT!) stop: That's StarOffice.
I bet that some of you like snakes and even have them as pets… and most certainly you will disagree, but I'm sorry to tell that although actually wrong, the common image of the snake is “3D”: Disingenuous, deceitful, dangerous.
You either don't notice them at all or they suddenly appear and are almost immediately painful. Not good. On the other hand—“disingenuous, deceitful, dangerous”—doesn't that sound familiar to you? It might just be the perfect logo for a website about installing OS/2 Warp 3 GA on modern hardware…
Polar bears also suffer from the “arctic syndrome”—too much association with the penguin! Yes, yes, I know: They barely come across each other… except as neighbors in a zoo perhaps. Also, the Coca-Cola company might come up with the idea of claiming that polar bears are invented by them, so let's see what bears remain: The panda is already in use by the WWF and although from I'm from Germany, I'm quite sure there's some sports teams in the US that are called “the Bears.”
So this leaves us with a choice of either a cuddly little teddy or a seven-foot killer grizzly to make up the logo. And despite their loveliness, we must understand that almost all famous teddy-style bears like Winnie the Pooh, “brother bears” or Yogi and Cindy are subject to copyright issues just like the Pink Panther.
Figure 9. Lycos dog logo
They're said to be “man's best friend.” So wouldn't that match? Lycos still has that Labrador, and of course Disney introduced us to Dalmatians (they're sooooo lovely) and don't we all know those famous Lassies, Boomers and other barking celebrities? Wouldn't that be a great choice, a dog?
On the other hand—let's face facts: Dogs leave heaps of poop almost everywhere they go, and they can ruin relationships and private life. Some are trained to kill people. Hm. Sounds like a great idea for an alternate Windows logo instead.
A different approach
This hasn't lead us anywhere. We should use a different approach.
First, we need a different product name, because—come on—“eComStation” doesn't really link to any known animal I'm afraid. On the other hand: What the heck does “Linux” link to if we weren't to know the penguin?
Okay then, let's keep “eCS” and see what we can do about it:
eCS is from Serenity Systems, and they're a Texas-based company. Hm. I must admit that I haven't been to the US (much less Texas). Thus the first things that come to my mind when thinking about “animals” and “Texas” are:
Cattle and rattlesnakes—Howdy!
Okay, just kidding, you Texas folks—put those guns away… Anyway, as I said above, snakes are not the best choice. Cows are already in use in IT logos. Darn. The last opportunity from that approach: Serenity has a swan in their logo, and… (BZZT!) yeah. We can't take also a swan for eCS then, plus, we have some “swans cons” mentioned above.
Considering all of the above, in the end there can be only one mascot:
The ugly duckling!
Let me telly you why:
Figure 10. The ugly duckling
In Andersen's famous tale, no one loved the little ugly duckling at first: He didn't look like his siblings (that's the WPS desktop), he sounded different (thanks to MMPM), no one wanted to play with him (no drivers from device manufacturers) and even his supposed parents (hello IBM) didn't like him. He was very, very sad (see shrinking community). But then, he found out that he actually is a swan (and that makes the link back to Serenity) and in the end he was admired and loved by everyone (well, we'll see…).
The funny thing is that the tale matches perfectly with eCS's current situation and that there's a matching role for everyone involved: IBM is the bad (wrong) parents, Serenity is likely to act as the wooden duck on the pond (which the duckling felt at least cozy with until he found out that it wasn't a real duck) and Mensys, netlabs and ecosoft.ru can take the roles of the farmer and his family who saved the duckling from starving and cared of him until he had grown into a swan.
Yes, I believe that there can be nothing but an ugly duckling to be the eCS mascot. The moral of the tale however is that once the ugly duckling has grown, he'll be a swan—and now all the “cons with swans” mentioned above will apply. This means that you musk ask yourself:
- whether you prefer to stay with the ugly duckling that only few people know about its real nature and potential…
- or prefer to let it become a beautiful swan that you will have to share with everybody else (and take the risk of seeing him getting stains of dirt on his plumage…)
Not quite easy, huh? Think about it for a while.
In the meanwhile, let's not forget about the “name” issue: A mascot needs a name—but what name could one give to an ugly duckling? “Igor” or “Quasimodo” ? Or would you prefer a well-known name from the eCS world like “Bob” (because Serenity Systems gave us eCS)?
And finally, to completely drive you mad and to care for equal opportunities, why shouldn't we give the duckling a female name? See, regardless of the riches we might be given along with it, some of us are simply born as ugly ducklings and we only can become swans by marriage—thus, if it's a “she”, why not call it “Camilla” then?
Hence, there's two roles in this tale that are left unassigned, namely yours and mine… but that's easy as duck(ling) soup:
I'm the narrator. You're the audience. Cheers and happy new year!