I’ve started a few businesses over the years. Back in 1991, I co-founded a graphic design partnership, H A Design, and then in 1998 started its digital arm, H@://Wired. Then in 2001, after splitting from my business partner at the end of 1999, I re-branded myself as Gladius Creative Communication, which served me well until I threw myself headlong into becoming a magazine publisher in 2006, when Battlegames took over my life and Gladius retreated to the shelf.
At the end of 2011, when Battlegames was taken over by Atlantic Publishers, I hastily re-branded myself yet again as Henry Hyde Limited – which is fine, as that is, of course, who I am! But over recent months, as I’ve been planning the necessary moves to take back creative control in my life, I’ve realised that what I also needed was to create a new brand to cover my new venture. It really didn’t require a great deal of thought: I already had a perfectly good identity waiting in the wings to be unleashed. A slight tweak, and Gladius Publications was born.
Let me dwell for a moment on why it’s such a good fit for what I intend to do. The identity came about as a result of some real soul-searching back in the early noughties. I had continued to use the H@://Wired brand after the split from my business partner – an amicable arrangement, just as he had carried on calling his company H A Design – but it soon became like the house that hadn’t been sold after the divorce. It just wasn’t ‘me’ any more.
I called in a lovely woman called Jo Weatherall to help me solve the conundrum and she suggested that I come up with a name that reflected me as a person, rather than necessarily the kind of work I was doing. You may recall the blockbuster movie that came out in 2000 called Gladiator, a film that held me spellbound and spoke to me on so many levels that it remains one of my all-time favourites. I’m passionately interested in military history, have been involved in martial arts, and have a deep and abiding sense of honour; there just had to be something I could conjure from that incredible piece of work by Ridley Scott.
It’s the name for a Roman short sword, but in a sense, it doesn’t matter what it means literally. There’s just something about the word itself that intrigued me. I chose a typeface called Trajan, which ties in nicely, because it’s based on the lettering that was carved on the Trajan Column in Rome, telling the story of Emperor Trajan’s conquests.
I thought it would hardly be appropriate for the audience I had in mind to use a literal image of a Roman sword, so I played around with the typography and, voilà, the logo you see now emerged. The lettering underneath the square is Gill Sans, another classic, with beautiful rounded letterforms that I have always loved. It just goes to show that ideas can often emerge when you step back and take a less obvious route to your destination. I had got myself muddled, trying to come up with solutions focused on expressing what I do, rather than who I am. And in the end, the answer actually expresses what I do far better than any alternative: the design is stylish, restrained, eye-catching, classic, but also bold – all the things I want my creativity to be; a real case of ‘less is more’. Another useful aspect of this design is that because it doesn’t give any specific clues about what I do, it gives me the freedom to try anything I want!
Gladius already has its first offerings on sale to get the ball rolling: a couple of very niche wargaming products that are pieces of graphic design/cartography, with hardly any writing. However, I’m planning a lot of things that will be quite the opposite, involving the writing from which I really want to be earning a living. It’s very early days, and for the time being, the new venture is focusing on wargaming and military history, a niche I know well and in which I have a respected presence, but my aim is to add fiction to the mix as soon as I can. More than 250 people have already signed up for my newsletter, which is hugely encouraging, especially considering that I’ve done almost no marketing at all so far!
The journey begins. I’ll keep you posted.