Funerals are distressing. Those that have passed have often not left plans in place in the event of their death, and those they have left behind have no mechanism to cope with the loss. Odyssey Memorial Services use Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey to allow the loved ones of the deceased to go on a journey that brings them support and closure.
Odyssey pulls several key points from the hero's journey: the call to adventure, the mentor/guide, crossing the threshold, building allies, the ordeal, the reward, and the road back. We mapped this experience to a new funeral experience that pushes people to move their bodies in a time of overwhelming sadness and brings people together to talk, mourn, and move forward.
The ceremony starts with a gathering of people to depart on a journey — it can be any sort of activity, but it must involve the physical displacement of your body — with the guidance of a mentor. The mentor helps the group build bonds with each other before mediating conversations that explore feelings surrounding the loss, providing them with an outlet for their distress. The journey culminates in the burial of the body or scattering of the ashes, and the group makes their way back, forever changed but now together.
Our primary user was someone who was wealthy and planning for their own death, but we also considered those who were planning the services of a loved one they recently lost.
Playing off of the idea of the hero's journey, I delved into terminology steeped in myth, and I came across "Odyssey", the term for an epic journey in which many things happen, often when someone is in search of something. Romantic and grand, but not too lofty, our Odyssey memorials would take people on a journey that would change them, and in the end, they would come out a little more weathered but a little braver, too.
The wordmark is a stacked stable but roughened serif typeface. The simple logomark acheives many things by encapsulating the mountains, referring to the outdoor nature of our service, the setting or rising sun, signifying ends and new beginnings, an O and M, for Odyssey Memorials, and a round shape, which harkens back to the hero's cycle that we based our concept on.
We determined that our brand was open, memorable, and active.
Thin lines showed fragility and vulnerability, and circles spoke to the hero's cycle we based our service off of, as well as the circle of life and the cycle of growth. Photography depicted people connecting with others or connecting with nature, and it never included direct shots of the face, because we wanted to focus on the journey and the atmosphere which shape the individual. Tall, serifed display type elevated the brand, and textural elements spoke to the texture of the human experience.
Though we offered a service that was new and exciting, we had to consider that many of our users would still be getting information from or more comfortable with more traditional methods. When social workers and other professionals were interested in directing people to us, they could hand out these booklets that talk about our service and approach.
When hearing about our service, unless their needs were very dire, many users would most likely head to the website first for more information. From there, they could order the booklet, if needed, but we really tried to focus on getting the user to call us for an appointment for more information; most people visiting the website would be going through a painful experience, and we wanted to get them in touch with a human person as soon as possible.