Creating the Qwest brand – or – riding that light

The acquisition of Qwest by CenturyTel (aka CenturyLink) brought back some more memories of creating the Qwest brand back in 1997.

In a stack of old files under my desk — files that I’ve been meaning to throw out for years and years —  I still have some of our old Bright Sun presentations from April and May 1997.  After hearing of the acquisition I looked through and found them.  Not the finished, final, polished versions but my original handwritten drafts. Kind of neat to dig them up and see what parts worked and what fell by the wayside.  “Absolute Data Integrity” was a great idea that was eventually dropped when the USPTO refused it trademark protection.  MCFN (Macro Capacity Fiber network) was a bit clunky.

The Qwest branding was inspired by Albert Einstein, of all people.  It’s what happens when your branding agency is full of overeducated, overly curious and overly creative people.  During a brainstorming session someone bedazzled us with a retelling of Einstein’s Gedankenexperiment.  You know, that whole thing about moving at the speed of light, relativity, Lorentz transformations, etc.  Here’s the back cover of the first annual report, which credits Albert Einstein with the brand inspiration.  On the second and third pages of the pdf are some of the original print ads using some rather famous Edgerton stop action photography.

Launching Qwest brand in 1997

Somewhere I even have an original Qwest cap and hand towel.  Below, for extra trivia points, is the placeholder logo for Qwest.  Once we “saw the light” then it was an easy path to the actual Qwest logo.  Without a strong metaphor the visual identity might have ended up looking like an over-inflated “Q”

The placeholder

The placeholder

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