Hi, there. Nate again.
Lots of our early private beta users asked us where the whole idea for the jar icon in our logo came from. Well, dear reader, this is the story…
From our earliest days we would talk as a team about our purpose and the resulting “identity” that should follow along with it. The purpose part was actually pretty easy. We all wanted to build a fun and easy way to collect, share, and save family memories. But we argued a lot about the best way to communicate this purpose to the world.
First of all, what should we call the company? The name debate continued on and off for a long time and for a good while we called ourselves Folkstory. But after lots of arguing and brainstorming we settled on JustFamily and we love it for lots of reasons. I’ll write about that process some other time.
We also really wanted to think of a symbol or icon that could somehow represent what we were trying to do. We wanted something interesting and fun and evocative. We dismissed a bunch of possible choices (e.g., journal, scrapbook, picture frame, family tree, etc.) as too either too obvious or not fun enough.
The icon we settled in on—The Magical Memory Jar—didn’t exactly come to us in a flash of inspiration. Instead it evolved through several stages:
Stage 1: Fireflies (aka Spooky Backyard)
Early on we got ourselves all excited about how memories were like fireflies. Then we got excited about how magical it is for kids to run around in a late spring backyard catching fireflies and watching them glow in Mason jars. Enamored with all of these glowy happy thoughts about my childhood in Connecticut we sort of went crazy with it and cooked up an early homepage that looked like the screenshot above.
Soon afterwards it became apparent that the backyard was more scary than nostalgic. Was the fence on fire? Was the boogeyman in the woods? And these firefly memories that we were catching…were they really going to stay in that jar forever? Wouldn’t they die and then just be kind of gross? I mean, they’re bugs right?
Stage 2: Seashells (aka Shiny Happy Beach)
Amazingly, our offices are right across the street from the beach. One really beautiful morning I was out for a little run. I was kind of zoning out and thinking about this identity problem when a shell caught my eye. I stopped and picked it up and snapped a picture of it with my iPhone - in fact, the picture just above. A little lightbulb went off and I put the shell in my pocket and started running back to the office.
The next morning I took a Mason jar and a bunch of shells we’d all collected out to the dune crossover across the street. I brought along my fancy camera and took a bunch of pictures in macro mode. My co-founder John then did a quick-and-dirty photoshop job to replace the “Ball” logo with “folkstory”. Before noon we had a new homepage.
Goodbye, Spooky Backyard. Hello, Shiny, Happy Beach!
Stage 3: Keepsake Jar (aka Magical Memory Jar)
A few months later we enlisted the help of the amazingly talented people at SoftFacade to help us make the keepsake jar vision come to life. We loved the idea of life as a little jog down the beach. There are lots of little ho-hum rocks and shells. But every so often something catches your eye that you want to stop and admire. You want to pick it up and collect it even.
The nice little juvenile whelk became for us the perfect proxy for that amazing moment when your four-year-old clicks on his camping headlight and gives you a hug. You want to collect that little moment. Put it in your pocket. Drop it in your keepsake jar when you get home. Share it with your wife and your mom and dad. Keep it safe. And then from time to time, you can dump those shells back out of the jar and onto the rug where you’re sitting with your kids. Sort through the shells as you all pick them up again. Find the little juvenile whelk again and smile.
So, that’s it… that’s the story of where the Magical Memory Jar icon came from. I’ll write about why the Memory Jar is magical when we’re ready to launch our Collections feature. That’s not too far off.