red line  THE AMPERSAND  red line

Bringing people together in a more personal, authentic way
than an ‘and’ could ever do.

Seeing Red – The Pekarsky & Co. Mid-May 2015 Newsletter

June 3, 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


While the rest of Alberta was turning orange recently, we were seeing red. I’m not talking about the Sea of Red down at the Saddledome, for those here in Calgary.  Nor, thankfully, am I referencing the state of our firm finances or even our general mood at this time, which is vastly improved in recent days.


I’m talking about our new hue.


If you’ve been paying any attention to things other than the Flames and provincial politics of late, you will have noticed the trail of breadcrumbs we’ve been dropping these past few months as we navigate our way through our own, less democratic though equally sweeping, change. And if you’re enough of a keener to have noticed that then you’ll also know that I’ve long maintained that the street always cares less about you than you think it does (unless, of course, things are going really, really badly for you).  So I’m the first to acknowledge that my feelings won’t be hurt if our previous clues haven’t exactly gripped you like a Dan Brown novel.


To be honest, if you did care as much about us as we do I’d be inclined to suggest you get a hobby.  Still, for anyone who has ever been involved in a re-brand, or painted a room in their house, or bought a car, or sent flowers or undergone an eye exam you can probably relate.   For when debate raged about our move away from years of PS blue to a bold new red, the fly on our wall could have been forgiven for thinking we were debating matters of global, or even inter-galactic importance.


Forget for a moment the myriad other weighty issues, design and otherwise, hotly debated over the course of numerous inter-office meetings and consults with each other, friends and family. Or, as succinctly summarized by one of our Associates,  “it’s sort of an internal wrestling match with our adolescent selves: is it time to grow up? And if we grow up, do we have to become as boring as our parents?” We actually settled on the new name relatively painlessly.  But do we go all caps?  And what about a period?  Do we like the circle?  How big should it be?  Why is the tag line right justified? Should it be left?  Do we still like the Gotham Book font with Proxima Nova Light secondary typeface? Who names these fonts? And how about the ampersand? Memorable icon, putting emphasis on the idea of connection and bringing two items together, sure, but should it be outlined showing the various paths taken or filled in to show strength? And do we really believe that using the ampersand symbol, rather than the word ‘and’ signifies a more intimate relationship? Are we afraid of intimacy? Were we breast fed as babies? Are black holes really collapsing inwards? Hunger, poverty, Middle East peace and our ampersand, not necessarily in that order, the fly would justifiably conclude must be humanity’s most pressing issue, or at least these humans.


But nothing stirred debate, divided our ranks and tested our family unit more than the colour red. Our very own Jessica Young actually studied semiotics (se·mi·ot·ics ˌsemēˈädiks/noun. semiotics; the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation).  Who knew such a science existed and who knew that Jessica knew so much about it? When Jess shared with me an article from the New York Times entitled How Do We See Red? Count the Ways, by Natalie Angier (read it via the link below), I read it countless times and found myself finally, about 40 years too late, replacing the stockpiles of useless data in my brain that stored the precise seating capacity of every North American football stadium of the early 1980s (Louisiana Superdome…76,468), with way too much information about the colour red.


According to the article, red is the “premier signaling color in the natural world, variously showcasing a fruitful bounty, warning of a fatal poison or boasting of a sturdy constitution and the genes to match.”  Or as Dr. Nicholas Humphrey put it in ‘Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness’: “Red is the poster child for the poster, for colors that have something important to say. Our visual system was shaped by colors already in use among many plants and animals, and red in particular stands out against the green backdrop of nature…If you want to make a point, you make it in red.”

There goes the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum…63,132.

On and on I read about red.  “What is it, then, to see red, to see any palette at all? Of our famed rods and cones, the two classes of light-sensing cells with which the retina at the back of each eye is supplied blah blah blah…”


B’bye Pontiac Silverdome…80,311.


“On hitting the retina, those red wavelengths stimulate with greatest fervor the cone cells set to receive them…”


…Nice knowin’ ya, Houston Astrodome…67,925.


“Cone apportionment allows us to discriminate among subtle differences in fruit ruddiness and hence readiness, and may also explain why I have at least 40 lipsticks that I never wear compared with only three blue eye shadows.”  Could the same be said of assessing candidate ruddiness and readiness?  Perhaps our new hue will imbue us with even greater super powers that our blue hue never knew.


Three Rivers Stadium…59,000 (47,687 for baseball). Houdinied.


“Whatever the primary spur to the evolution of our rose-colored retinas, we, like most other animals with multi-chromatic vision, have learned to treat red with respect. ‘In the evolution of languages,’ Dr. Humphrey writes, ‘red is without exception the first color word to enter the vocabulary,’ and in some languages it’s the only color word apart from black and white. It’s also the first color that most children learn to name, and that most adults will cite when asked to think of a color, any color.’”


And likely explains, too, why among our many and varied focus groups our kids so emphatically went red. In fact, more than my work family or our paid outside experts or even my clients and friends, the most influential people on this process were my 14 year old daughter who pronounced “blue was then, red is now” and Ranju’s 14 year old daughter who said “we’re Netflix, mom, and you’re Blockbuster.  The future of the firm will be working with the kids of today.”  As this is a G-rated blog, I will not share with you Ranju’s retort.




But, as usual, the kids were on to something. “Red savors the spice of victory. Analyzing data from Olympic combat sports like boxing and tae kwon do, in which competitors are randomly assigned to wear red shorts or blue, Dr. Russell Hill and his colleagues at the University of Durham in Britain found that the red-shorted won their matches significantly more often than would be expected by chance alone. What the researchers don’t yet know is whether the reds somehow get a subconscious boost from their garb, or their blue opponents are felled by the view. Red refuses to be penned down or pigeonholed. It has long been the color of revolution, of overthrowing the established order. ‘Left-wing parties in Europe have all been red,’ Dr. Humphrey said, ‘while the conservatives, in Britain and elsewhere, go for blue.’ Yet in the United States, the color scheme lately has been flipped, and the red states are said to be the guardians of traditional values, of mom and pop, of guns and red meat.”


And doesn’t the scent of political stripe just bring us full circle. Our firm has long espoused over-throwing the established order.  We pitch, and often win, against the larger, traditional search firms. We work hard to overcome the inertia of the industry to prove there is a better way; a more cost-effective way; a more nimble, more human, less self-serious way to serve our clients, our candidates and our community. But, analogizing ourselves to left-wing political parties, though very 2015, we’re not quite ready to go there just yet.


So, out with the blue and in with the red (and orange). On June 1st, when we formally unveil our new name, brand, logo, look and feel, your rods and cones had better be firing or we’ll be seeing red!






p.s.  You didn’t think I’d show you the whole thing, now, did you??


p.p.s.  Seattle Kingdome – 66,000


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