How Did The Skunk Ape Name And Logo Come To Be?
By: John R. Hackett
Rhett and I have often been asked how our stand got the name Skunk Ape Tree Stands and what brought about our logo. First and foremost, almost everyone else in the industry has a deer head or a deer skull for their logo. To come up with yet another one, we felt, would blend right in and get lost with folks’ products that are already on the market and established, two things we weren’t at that time. The other thing that was important to us is the fact that we have a patent on the stand and that there is not another ladder stand like it. Since our stand is proprietary, we made it our mission to come up with a name and the logo that would stand out and would catch the eye of a prospective buyer. Along with that, we elected to weave in fun with a simple question: “Has anyone that you know of ever killed or captured a skunk ape?” So far, 100% of the answers have been no.
I decided to write this little blog up as fun for everyone who likes the name and logo or is just plain curious about them. It is also a fun process for me to be able to go back four years, or thereabouts, and remember where we were and how we got to the place we are today. I sincerely hope that you enjoy it.
Wikipedia tells us a skunk ape is this: The skunk ape, also known as the swamp cabbage man, swamp ape, stink ape, Florida Bigfoot, Louisiana Bigfoot, myakka ape, swampsquatch, and myakka skunk ape, is a humanoid creature said to inhabit the U.S. states of Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas, although reports from Florida are most common. It is named for its appearance and for the unpleasant odor that is said to accompany it.
As a kid growing up in southeast Georgia, not too far from the Okefenokee Swamp, Rhett heard stories about the elusive skunk ape a lot during his impressionable years. He was always captivated by the notion of the skunk ape and always looked for him when playing in the woods as a child. As he grew up, the skunk ape stayed in the back of his mind, filed away. Rhett will tell you that he has always wanted to do something with the skunk ape, even if it was a practical joke scaring friends around a campfire. He even dressed up as a skunk ape for two Halloweens, once as a kid and once in college. It is really fortunate that he never got pulled over by the police when in costume for the second Halloween! To put it mildly, Rhett is a believer and I would have had to come up with something really solid for a name and logo to get it past his love for the skunk ape!
The process that Rhett and I came up with was based in simplicity: a good, old fashioned brainstorming session. We invited several friends to come to my house for a grill and chill. Rhett and I fed everyone pork tenderloin that I smoked and some awesome sides. When we finished supper we got out legal pads and a pile of pens and pencils. Everyone got a pad and a writing utensil. First, we asked that they listen to our mission statement and a short description of our product. (Everyone already knew about it at this time and this was done to make it fresh in their minds.) Second, we asked everyone to take a couple of minutes and write down every word they could think of that would either be a great name for the stand or adjective describing it. Next, we read them aloud to everyone and asked them to start a second column if someone else’s word gave them an idea. Once that was done we asked everyone to sketch out a logo based on one or two of the favorites they had on their paper, underlining any name they were using for the sketch. Last, we asked everyone to throw down something crazy for a tag line.
The following day, Rhett and I went through all of the pages we acquired and discussed a lot of them. Skunk Ape was still stuck on his brain as if someone super glued it, and we began to work on the logo. We had versions that looked like Cousin It from The Addams Family to a demonic looking eye looking at your through a scope. We chose to do a skull so that it could be simple and easy. We put him in a reticle while laughing about the “fact” that no one has ever killed one, bringing us one of Rhett’s famous one-liners: “That’s because he is the baddest predator in the woods!” We had our idea down and pretty solid right then. My college roommate, Ben Hesse, is my favorite artist in the entire world and he is also one hell of a graphic designer. I took our folder, as organized as I could possibly make it, to him and gave him as much of a vision about what we wanted to accomplish with the name and logo as I could. The eventual result of Ben’s work is what you see today and we are most pleased with it.
We hope that you have enjoyed this blog post.