Skip to main content

The path to setting my company brand took longer than 15 seconds, but I hope describing it won’t.

I was at a serendipitous juncture a few months ago when all forces aligned and the opportunity to form my new architectural design company, Synchronis, came up. During much of my 25+ years at firms I was associated with, I was fortunate to have a leading role in producing some of the largest projects in the City of Los Angeles, including the recent USC Village and twelve of the high-rises that either went up after 2000 or that have sprouted up in much greater quantity since 2011.

Closet Entrepreneur

At some point, though, it dawned on me I’m not a good fit for the world of corporate architectural practices which typically produce that kind of large-scale work. Having been a dot com veteran from the early 2000’s with, a startup venture to create furniture for small quarters, the lure of starting my own business never completely went away. In contrast to entrepreneurialism, the whole realpolitik notion of the perception being more important than the reality and the consequent energy investment needed to manage internal perceptions were really never for me. Mitt Romney once (correctly) described corporations as people too, alluding to the legal concept they are entities with similar obligations and rights. Would you have a drink with most of them? I didn’t think you would. Me neither. If you do, make sure to check your wine before you drink it.

I Think Therefore I Do

If the meaning of life is solely to exist and to provide the means for those I care for to exist, then collecting a paycheck, in fact the bigger the better, makes perfect sense, Something, though, felt not quite right about that hypothesis. If the meaning of life is to exist, it’s much more elegant a design solution to be a rock or, if you like more spice, yeast. No need to “think therefore I am” when you can just “be” without complaints, hair loss, or bills to pay. As a non-rock, I posit, “I think, therefore I do.” Since we have a mind, to what end do we have a mind to do? Life is for that quest.

Ain’t No Lipstick on a Pig

Following my vector as an architect, philosopher wannabe, and, most relevant to this discussion, a “both feet in the water” entrepreneur, the notion of being able to describe my concept to a new contact in the moment it takes to arrive at their elevator stop became my new Holy Grail. In contrast to my prior dot com experiment, this time I was taking no prisoners. I hired an eminent branding consultant, Kevin Walker of Boardwalk, and we set out to come up with the best damn bullet points achievable by man (time and money permitting). It was a wonderful process—the intellectual discourse and the refinement of verbiage. I particularly appreciated that this was no “lipstick on a pig” exercise. The luxury, here, was being in the position to construct the brand at the precise point where it makes the most sense—the origin point—becoming less a sales exercise than a philosophical one.

The Icons: Turn Right at Symbiosis

The process culminated in going beyond the words to produce a set of “traffic sign” icons to describe my company’s unique points on how we deliver architectural design services. I reckoned if they’re clear enough to make sense on a traffic sign, they must be pretty reductive, which is what I was shooting for. While, at the end of the day, our iconographic work product may be as mystifying to car drivers as the Google Maps lady occasionally is, the icons do represent a nice summation to an important exercise, an exercise that, for me, answered the question, when a company is truly not just about making a widget for a buck, what does it stand for?

The icons, Synchronism, Holism, and Symbiosis, represent three unique attributes:

  1. A proprietary process, Predictive Workflows™ that will enhance the quality of design work we can produce while saving a ridiculous amount of project schedule time.
  2. An integrated approach to the delivery of services, offering holistic expertise through a single point of contact, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the factory-style production process adopted by most corporate architecture firms;
  3. A goal to produce simultaneously symbiotic and resilient buildings that, among other things, will ultimately address the continuing dilemma of designing code-compliant buildings that are incapable of continued usability after “The Big One” hits here in California.
Batter Up

“Ding,” the elevator’s here. “Hi, I’m an architect who believes a holistic approach to design, team expertise, and the environment makes the best buildings. Applying that philosophy, my company developed something we call Predictive Workflows, a revolutionary process that improves the quality of design work we produce while vastly speeding up the process of delivering it.”

And so, with the New Year, it begins. As an aside, I just Googled my phrase, the one about thinking and doing, hoping it would be original. Dang it, it’s been said before, so don’t attribute it to me. As one Star Trek character might exclaim in a parallel universe, “I’m an architect, not a philosopher!” In parting, to paraphrase that character’s friend, “Live long, prosper…and be true to yourself.”

Leave a Reply