The name and the logo were the hardest part. So many creative firms are sterile in moniker and brand—a few last names welded together by an ampersand in Helvetica font. (And it’s always Helvetica.) But I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Though many creatives look to the heavens for their muse, I only had to look a few feet down at an unconventional animal who’s served as a companion for the past seven years. And that animal happens to be half dog, half coyote. I didn’t know Harley was a hybrid when I adopted her from a shelter in Columbus, Ohio, and I still technically don’t—I hesitate to subject her to a DNA test syringe. But enough professionals have stated as much, and indeed: Harley is not a common “dog.”
But she is an absolute sweetheart. She will snuggle up and pass out with her bunny-soft, lupine head nestled in your lap. She comes when called and does not like to be left alone. She makes a heart-rending pout when disciplined, eyes cast down and ears flushed back. But she is also a feral, feral animal. I’ve never seen a dog weave through underbrush so stealthily and pounce on invisible (at least to the human eye) prey in a bizarre, nearly vertical leap. She doesn’t bound. She doesn’t retrieve. She hunts.
That marriage of familial loyalty and pointed instinct intrigued me; the two didn’t contradict each other. Around a year back, Harley’s demeanor reminded me of the position that a few friends and I were in. We were restless from working in risk-averse work scenarios with low stakes and limited scope, and wanted to create an environment where we could shape our own goals. So we created The Coyote Dog Collective, or, in short, Coydog Collective. We work hard, we don’t settle, but we refuse convention.
The Collective consists of me, Steve Foxe, and Craig Gephart. Steve Foxe is a former Random House editor who assumed my duties at Paste Magazine after I left. He’s fantastic. Craig Gephart is a designer (and former Lord of the Dancer) responsible for the design at the 2009 Yankee Stadium and many excellent brand identities. He’s also fantastic. More folks are in the pack, but this is the core as of now.
Much of the work thus far has been in PR, marketing editorial, social media management, and product photography, but we do many things.
As per the logo, I settled on a bold Futura, so apparently I don’t like serifs either, much like my friends who stick to Helvetica. And per the brand mark, I used a heavily modified portrait of Harley, because how could I not? Say hello if you’d like to collaborate.