Origins of a Big Tent Brand (part 2)

Jan 23

As part of my plea for your vote as finalist the Tastiest Brand awards,  I’m sharing the origins of the Circus Serene imagery and concept, as described back on MindTweaks, in 2010.  My method? A combination of metaphoring, helper-mousing, and just a touch of piracy – enjoy!

It's A Flourish!

It's A Balancing Act!The other day, I told you about Havi’s Pirate Queen expeditions, how she lets a mouse provide metaphors for her business,  and then I announced that I wanted a metaphor of my very own.

A metaphor to help me better get a handle on this business stuff. A metaphor that  made it fun. A metaphor that made it not scary-and-over-whelming and HUGE.

And (as I’m sure you’ve already figured out) I found that  metaphor: A Circus!   Not JUST a circus, mind you…  but a full-fledged old-fashioned three-ring circus and traveling carnie show, complete with believe-it-or-not sideshows, animal acts, a midway, tons of prizes, games and all the cotton candy you’ll never eat.

How did I find this glorious, stupendous circus of circuses, you ask? Well, I did it a little differently than laid out in Havi’s methods for metaphors.   She usually starts by “unpacking” (analyzing, to the rest of us) whatever it is she wants to metaphorize.  I didn’t want to bother with all of that, because I’m lazy.   That seemed too uncomfortable.  Instead, I decided to unpack her Pirate Queen metaphor, and look at why it was so appealing to me.

Here’s what turned up:

  • The pirate queen directs the ship
  • There’s a pirate crew, people who help.
  • There’s a pirate log, treasure maps, telescopes. Fun TOOLS!
  • Rudders and ships wheels and navigation stuff… direction!
  • Sails and oars for energy and motion
  • Pirates are unconventional, they live by their own rules, do their own thing in their own time.
  • Strong defenses: Cannons, guns, swords and other sharp pokey things.
  • The pirate idea of success is …  self-determined. Or something.
  • Although pirates  interact with the land-lubbing world through their contact with ports, they don’t LIVE there.
  • Pirates steal things, so I could stop feeling guilty about borrowing good  ideas from other people and places.
  • Pirates are free spirited.
  • They travel.
  • The idea of keeping a captains log, treasure maps, and swabbing the deck makes maintenance seem so much more appealing.
  • The sea is sort of meditative.
  • There’s fun. Costumes. Jewels.  Hats!

Somehow, a key seemed to be that  I wanted an excuse to be unconventional, self-determined, living within a code, but outside of the widely accepted codes of society.   I started to think  about  jobs and careers and things that are LIKE pirates, but weren’t pirates.

Characters that live outside of the norms of society.

Cattle rustler? Train robber?  No, I don’t want the focus to be on the stealing.( I don’t REALLY steal, I just feel guilty when I feel inspired by someone else’s ideas. I’m weird that way. )

Circus Elephant Image by johnnyberg on Stock.Xchng

Hermit? No, too lonely. Hermit Crab?  No, no.  Too crustacean-ish. Mountain Top Sage or Yogi? Monk?  Beatnick?   Street beggar?  Gypsy/Tinker/Traveler?  No, No, No…

Then Metaphor Mouse shot himself out of a cannon and through a flaming hoop.

“Ohhhh!!” I said.  That looked interesting… and circusy!

So I wrote to Metaphor Mouse, for further clarification.
It's A Flourish!

March 17, 2010
Dearest, Darling Metaphor Mouse…

What do you think about running away to join the circus/carnival?
Huh Huh Huh?

No, not YOU.. me! That could be SERIOUSLY fun.  Especially if it wasn’t just any old circus, but one of the old timey carnie type deals, with traveling side shows and freaks and stuff.

Instead of being a Pirate Queen, I could learn to be a Ring Master ! With a whip! And a top hat! And then, instead of having a business or a blog, I’ll run a three ring circus.  And those off beat projects I sometimes get caught up in? Side-Shows. I mean, seriously.  What could be better?

  • The circus is quirky, sparkly, weird, fascinating, and just a little bit scary.  Just how I like things.
  • Circus folk move within normal society, but outside of it’s ordinary standards.  Which is the way I like it, too.
  • The circus/carnival has a lot of different roles to play and hats to wear: the ring master, the sideshow barker, the freaks and the geeks, the pretty girl with the ponies and poodles. There are animal trainers and animal helpers, jugglers, magicians, fortune tellers, meditating yogis, and clowns!
  • There’s even a funhouse I can use to shake up people’s perceptions. How perfect is THAT for me?

I can set up the show, tear it down, light up the midway, go for rides, walkMidway Booth: Image by Leo Synapse on Stock.Xchngtight ropes, avoid run ins with the law.  We can have Big Finale numbers, and intermissions.  There are different caravan cars, cages and boxcars for each act, making it seem somehow organized.  It fits with my existing plate-spinning metaphor.  There’s jumping through hoops!  Walking tight ropes!  Popcorn, cracker jacks and cotton candy!   Souvenir shops instead of webstores.  I can produce some seriously cool posters, there are countless costumes, and… best of all?

PARADES!  We get to have PARADES!

Yay for Parades! With Elephants!
It’s all so wonderfully over the top, isn’t it?
Really, what do you think?

Love and Carnival Kisses,

It's Another Flourish!

I haven’t heard back from the Mouse yet, so I’ll just assume all is well. The Circus (especially the old fashioned, carnival kind) really is a bit of perfection, isn’t it? Perpetual childhood, organized chaos and tricksters, all wrapped up in sequins.  How could anything be better?

Oh, yes, I know.  Even circuses and carnie shows have to do some form of record keeping and scheduling.  But maybe its more like an elephant counting peanuts.  Or maybe I’ll play at being some narrow minded accountant who love-love-loves numbers, and is freaked out by all the weirdness of the circus.

Or wait!!!   I can be Numbero! Numbero, the idiot-savant who can’t remember his own name, but crunches numbers  for breakfast! Just add milk and extra exclamation points.

Really, there is so much potential in this for me it’s too much to write about.  There’s good-hearted sleight of hand, well-intentioned trickery and illusion, a whole lot of hoopla, ballyhoo and just flat sensationalism.  My mind is still reeling with ideas.

But maybe best of all, for right now? I can do this slowly.  One act, one booth, one elephant at a time.

Circus Big Top photo by Capgros on Stock.Xchng

So that’s it.

I’m going to run away to join the circus.  But don’t worry, I’ll send you postcards (or at least blog posts).

I’ll keep you updated as I learn the role of Ring Master, gather my cast of characters and put together my very own show of shows.

Anyone know where I can get a Big Top, cheap?

It's Another Flourish!

Tastiest Small Biz Brand AwardNext, you’ll actually get some new writing (yay) as I update the metaphor, examine what has and hasn’t worked, explain the Big Tent that is Quirkipreneurs, and talk about the future. Oh. And if you haven’t voted for me as Tastiest Brand yet, what are you waiting for?  Go! Vote! (would it help if I bribed you with virtual popcorn?) UPDATE…. I WON!


  1. Good Job! hehehe.

    I have really enjoyed reading these posts that share how the circus came into being. I haven’t read a ton of Havi’s stuff but the whole metaphor thing has really stuck with me.

    The rebellion started out with a bit of a anarchist/jungle rebel feel that didn’t really work for me. I was forcing societies ideas of what a rebellion looked like onto it.

    After reading about your circus and Havi’s pirates (which I love both ideas) and thinking about what has been going on at my own site, I think I may have stumbled across the metaphor that might work for me.
    I’m leaning toward a Alice in Wonderland meets The Faery Realms sort of thing. I must go think on this ideas some more.

    Thanks Tori!

  2. Tori Deaux /

    Ohhh, Delisa, I can soooo see that sort of feel for your work! It captures your essential contrariness.

  3. I like seeing all the thoughts that went into creating your theme and whole feel. I like seeing how people arrived at a conclusion, and this made a lot of sense! I definitely like what you came up with!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Thanks Joe! I find a lot of value in following other people’s creative process, too – it seems to jumpstarts my own approaches. Welcome to the Circus!