Brains and Butterflies: How Our Logo Came To Be

Monarch Butterfly
February 16, 2022

Isn’t it fascinating what we remember from our childhoods? The way in which a word or a sound, perhaps a change of temperature or a random circumstance can open the vault of our memories to allow us to reconnect to information stored within us?

Something like this happened to me in the Fall of 2020 as I was embarking on the adventure of opening Mente Counseling & Consultation. Without much of an assembled plan for how to properly set up a business, I began attempting to list out some of the items that this new baby business would need. Not so differently from how I had envisioned a nursery for my child a few years ago, I began to imagine all the nurturing and thoughtful elements that would support Mente’s growth and allow its mission to thrive. As I allowed my imagination to wander, it occurred to me that Mente needed a face, an image that could represent what we stand for. Luckily for me, the idea of a logo was immediately paired with reaching out to one of my BFFs who, aside from being an amazing human, is also a graphic designer. Talking with her was like receiving the comforting embrace of an experienced parent when you are expecting for the first time. She knew exactly what to ask and was a natural at taking my non-sensical phrases and complicated hand-gestures and turning them into something meaningful.

It was through this process that she asked a question that opened the door to a memory. “What has been your driving motivation?”, read the line on her branding questionnaire. All I could think about after seeing this were Monarch Butterflies.

Monarch butterflies, as many of you know, follow an incredible migratory pattern of up to 2800 miles going from the United States and Canada to the forests in central Mexico. Monarchs return every winter to the warm shelter of their ancestral home in Michoacán and Estado de México where they also find the food they need to survive and a place to lay their eggs.

No one knows how the butterflies find their way back to México every fall. It is unknown how they are able to make this journey considering that, in their trajectory to Canada and back, four successive generations are born and die.

The Monarch butterfly also holds profound significance to the indigenous communities of the Mazahua and Purepecha people in México. Monarchs are honored and respected as sacred. Because their arrival in México is around Día de los Muertos, the butterflies are believed to be the souls of the deceased returning for a visit. Others say that the butterflies are the spirits of the forest or messengers from the gods. The butterflies are also said to be aids for the souls of the dead as they find their way into the afterlife.
I was about 8 years old when I first learned of monarch butterflies. In my hometown of Tijuana, México, inside of my third-grade classroom, my teacher talked about the phenomenon of the monarch’s migration and described the unbelievable natural beauty of witnessing the butterflies in the forest. Without seeing any pictures during the lesson, I remember being able to imagine the butterflies in my mind and feeling like my heart was filled with awe. México and the Monarch butterfly have been interlinked in my memory ever since.

When presented with the question of what has been my driving motivation, all these memories and connections came rushing back. My motivations felt deeply interconnected with the butterflies because there is something to be said about not knowing why or how but still feeling compelled to intuitively move, just like they do. When I think about my motivations, and even beyond myself, the motivations of humanity, I think about what has propelled our people from Latin America and from all over the world, to seek opportunities in other lands while never relinquishing the warm emotional shelter of their ancestral home. When I think about driving motivations, I think about the sacrifices of elder generations so that the young may thrive. I think about how all of us have stories of complex journeys, and how our hearts ache for home. The image was now clear in my mind: Mente’s face would be the monarch butterfly.
With my bestie’s help and the support of her team, Mente’s logo began to take shape as a butterfly. A natural opportunity came up in the creative process to blend the silhouette of the butterfly with the ridges of the human brain, and due to the heavy involvement of this organ in the mental health field it felt like a match meant to be.

Only days later, there it was, Mente’s face:

Mente Logo

I hope that our logo continues to symbolize what we stand for and why we are here. I know that for me this image will bring to mind how powerful memories can be, how hopeful our ancestry is, and how meaningful it is to endeavor into journeys that are often unknown but that are created in an effort to allow all of us to thrive.

Thanks for being in this journey with us.

Martha Stebbins-Aguiniga

I am Martha, Director, and Mental Health Counselor at Mente. I am a mother, partner, tía, daughter, and friend. I am a cis-gendered Latinx bilingual woman.