We’re often asked about the origins of our company name. While I’ve lived with it long enough that it’s like saying my own name, when I’m asked I pause too. It’s a totally reasonable question. It could come off as rather odd. Why not Pink Like Neon? Or Blue Like the Sky?
It’s not just something out of my imagination or some random grouping of three words selected from a computer program.
The truth is, it’s three words someone else grouped that stuck with me for years, decades now. The name Blue Like Neon was inspired by lyrics in a Massive Attack song called Eurochild.
When the Protection album dropped in 1994, it was really exciting to me since that genre was still evolving. It was hardly even really a genre at that point. Massive Attack was fusing hip hop with electronics and bringing all kinds of new stuff to the table that didn’t fit neatly into a “genre box.” It was also about more than the music to me. 3D (Robert Del Naja), who speaks the line in the song, was also the artist responsible for their look. At the time there was a flourishing of groups blurring those lines – Underworld being another (who were part of Tomato, an art and design collective formed in 1991). The idea that musicians were also artists, artists were filmmakers, filmmakers were maybe designers likely influenced a generation of future creatives coming of age in the 90s.
The funny thing to me in writing this is that the line I was inspired by doesn’t stand out all that much as I read through the lyrics. Nor does it get referenced in writing about game-changing music. It is buried there in the first verse:
Sitting in my day care, the art is day glow painted
Blessed by the drink upon the corner’s where we’ve seen it
Chased by the plaintiff, haunted by the medium
Too high to flow toward to break the tedium
Glow from my TV set was blue like neon
Activated the remote I put the BBC on…
So why did I latch onto that? It comes down to storytelling and memory and resonance.
That line always stuck me as an intriguing way to describe and give life to something you would never really think about, but experience all the time—that blue glow a television set defaults to, or at least did in the good old days.
To me, that line elevated an everyday object and experience. Made poetic the ordinary and usually ignored.
The line actually occurs again in the song, but the line above, first up when listening, was the one that resonated.
I grabbed the domain name maybe ten years ago, long after the album was released. It sat dormant for a good while. My goal was always to use it as a creative outlet of some sort…some way to help tell great, memorable stories in an interesting way using many different creative approaches and outlets.
As I’ve spent many years creating, pitching and speaking with clients selling the value of ideas two things have stayed true.
First, our work is to help our clients understand the art of helping people see more than face value of something. Branding is about more than the function of a product. It’s about bolstering it with an entire world of context and meaning. It’s seeing that glow of that screen in a new way.
And, second, part of that art is knowing the story of how a design or product came to be can be just as engaging as the end result. I’m always surprised when folks ask where the name came from. But I shouldn’t be. Origin stories matter.
Many years later, Blue Like Neon is much more than I would have hoped when I started. (*Tip of the hat to the team!*). We taken something and given it meaning. Our collective creative ventures are done in service of our clients and their stories, helping them make memorable things that resonate.
That’s our story. Have a listen to the song that started it all. Then get in touch so we can help tell your story.
All artwork featured in this post by 3D. For more we highly suggest checking out:
3D And The Art Of Massive Attack: Limited Edition Vinyl Box Set