Why Geisha is now Panda

over 3 years ago from , usepanda.com || panda.network

Hey everyone,

I created Geisha because I wanted a place that would feature all the latest inspiration and news for designers. And in three months, it had more than 3,000 users. In realising it’s potential, I partnered up with William Channer to create something better and more useful.

Recently, we’ve received feedbacks saying that the concept and illustration of Geisha was offensive. This was not our intention. The name Geisha was chosen for its literal meaning “person of arts”, but we saw that this was not the case. Geisha was just meant to be cute and warm character, nothing more.

We’re sorry for offending. And so we’ve decided to relaunch again, this time, under a new name and a new brand. Meet Panda. Our initial path was not offend anyone, so from now on we will continue walking on, delivering the latest and best inspiration news for designers under Panda.

Hope you enjoy, http://usepanda.com

Ahmet and William

-- For those who still have Geisha, please update your extensions.

84 comments

  • Connie ChanConnie Chan, over 3 years ago

    As a woman who is also Asian, I found the original branding questionable at best. It also disturbs me to read these comments where people seem to quickly disregard how appropriated Geisha was and how it was playing off of Asian stereotypes.

    Thank you Ahmet and William for creating such a useful product, and for taking people's concerns seriously.

    39 points
    • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, over 3 years ago

      I never knew the word had that negative connotation. Maybe it's my ignorance, but I just thought of the female counterpart to samurai — with a focus on arts and beauty.

      Maybe that's just what Disney wanted me to think? Thanks for your insight.

      3 points
      • Nathan LeeNathan Lee, over 3 years ago

        The negative connotation comes mostly from cultural appropriation and stigma of asian women as "exotic, docile, submissive" who are there for men's pleasure. In the worst case scenarios, women get objectified and referred to as "geishas" as one who is to entertain, pleasure, and serve... and not in the traditional/cultural context. It's something women still seem to combat (see: the creepywhiteguy tumblr).

        16 points
    • Evan PEvan P, over 3 years ago

      It also disturbs me to read these comments where people seem to quickly disregard how appropriated Geisha was and how it was playing off of Asian stereotypes.

      This.

      This could have been a great launch point for people to learn something outside of their framing of the world; an opportunity to learn how to make their work more accessible across cultural boundaries. Instead people are cheering each other on for being intolerant.

      15 points
      • Darby ✌Darby ✌, over 3 years ago

        This! What's even more baffling is how some responses seem to say "branding doesn't matter". As if the choice of icon, product name, and supporting imagery aren't supposed to shape someone's perception of a product. It's very bizarre.

        9 points
    • William ChannerWilliam Channer, over 3 years ago

      You're welcome :)

      3 points
  • Murat MutluMurat Mutlu, over 3 years ago

    Respect for moving quickly and listening to feedback. Much love for Panda

    20 points
  • Darby ✌Darby ✌, over 3 years ago

    Thanks for reacting with such sensitivity to this issue. Rebranding signals that you're dedicated to contributing to a community where no one feels marginalized.

    Honestly, I dismissed the product before because of the branding but now I'm giving it a serious shot. Your efforts were worth it.

    18 points
  • Jesse WallaceJesse Wallace, over 3 years ago

    I'd rather offend 1% of my user base than caving to this type of tightly-wound, overreactive user. Ridiculous.

    16 points
  • Antonio PratasAntonio Pratas, over 3 years ago

    I don't agree with the name Panda, it's an endangered animal and this app is a representation of the animal abuse done in Pandas all over the world!

    15 points
  • Diana Lopez, over 3 years ago

    Thanks for listening.

    14 points
  • Nguyet VuongNguyet Vuong, over 3 years ago

    Ahmet and William, thank you for this great product. Most of all, thank you for caring. It means a lot to us that you're empathetic to our concerns. Awareness makes us all better designers (if we choose to be) There's a great lesson here and we're proud to tell all our friends about you guys.

    13 points
  • Updula LeeUpdula Lee, over 3 years ago

    I miss Geisha already.

    Pandas are boring...

    12 points
  • Grant Custer, over 3 years ago

    Thanks for listening to the feedback, definitely feel more comfortable with using it now.

    11 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, over 3 years ago

    The reason that I didn't use this product in the past was a misconception about what Geisha meant.

    9 points
  • Joshua HughesJoshua Hughes, over 3 years ago

    It's bloody sad how easily offended people are nowadays.

    9 points
  • Ed ChaoEd Chao, over 3 years ago

    Funny how ignorance can breed so much passion (I'll keep that open-ended). Good move guys. pandas everywhere approve!

    9 points
  • Joe BlauJoe Blau, over 3 years ago

    I'm half black and half white... Panda offends me.

    Just kidding, but I did have an interesting story yesterday. My Brother was shoulder surfing yesterday and when I launched a new tab he said "Geisha?" Then I had to go in and explain what Geisha, Dribbble, and DN were, and how the site was creating a beautiful visual aggregator for the services. After my explanation he got it, but his initial response did evoke concern.

    8 points
  • Alex BoerstlerAlex Boerstler, over 3 years ago

    I'm more offended by the blander icon. Loved the colors of the original!

    No, but seriously, solid move. I've been using Geisha for a while now and always was mildly uncomfortable with the branding. You guys make my favorite chrome extension and it keeps getting better!

    8 points
  • Daniel SieradskiDaniel Sieradski, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    i approve of your name change. the geisha is a negative stereotypical depiction of submissive asian females. it was a total insensitive privileged male move to choose that as your brand in the first place.

    that said: i love your app. please make it better by adding the ability to view the dribbblers and behancers one follows with their account. also please add thebestdesigns.com or a comparable web design gallery to the inspiration section. and add producthunt.io to news.

    thank you!

    7 points
    • Ahmet Sulek, over 3 years ago

      so, I can tell that our upcoming features for panda is just for you! thank you for using it and supporting the name change!

      3 points
    • Trevor HenryTrevor Henry, over 3 years ago

      A misguided move? Yes.

      A total insensitive privileged male move to choose that as your brand in the first place? Oh please. They've been clear that was not their intention.

      I also find it a little funny that there are still many practicing geisha today who I am sure would find many of the descriptions people offered in this thread as offensive too (even though in their minds they meant well).

      0 points
      • Nicola RushtonNicola Rushton, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

        A total insensitive privileged male move to choose that as your brand in the first place? Oh please. They've been clear that was not their intention.

        Unfortunately intent isn't the be all and end all of offensiveness. You can unintentionally offend someone. You show strength of character in the way you react to someone being offended by you - listen to them, try to understand their point of view, and be open to changing your point of view with the new information they present.

        Sure, sometimes people are offended for pretty dumb reasons. And then, sometimes people are offended for totally valid reasons that for whatever reason have never passed across your experience. Even if it's not your fault that you offended them in your ignorance, it is your fault if you aren't open minded enough to listen to them, and consider whether your own views should be changed, and whether you can fix the offence in any way.

        That's what Panda have done and I think it shows their strength of character.

        7 points
        • Trevor HenryTrevor Henry, over 3 years ago

          Hey Nicola,

          I almost agree with everything you've said, although I'm not sure how it relates to my comment. The taking of offense seems to be a bit of a theme in this thread, though my comment was directed at the silly accusation of the name choice being a "a total insensitive priveleged male move", which was more of an attack on the character of the creators.

          0 points
  • valerie hilliganvalerie hilligan, over 3 years ago

    Thanks for listening. I couldn't in good conscience use the product before.

    4 points
    • Devin BoyleDevin Boyle, over 3 years ago

      Wait till the P.E.T.A. representative sees the Panda. :o)

      2 points
    • Josh Sanders, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      You'll never be able to please everyone, everywhere, with your products—but if there is a more appropriate route to go, it would probably be wise to take that route. That being said, I highly doubt that you didn't use it before due only to the extension's name, ESPECIALLY when it was clear that there was no malicious intent or connotation behind the use of the name Geisha. Look up the late 19th century origin of the word:

      Japanese 'entertainer', from gei 'performing arts' + sha 'person'

      The negativity spawns from what others have imposed on the term through cultural appropriation and their own ignorance.

      0 points
  • Fabrice LiutFabrice Liut, over 3 years ago

    The product is the most important, so thx for this. Geisha or Panda, don't care for me.

    4 points
  • Margaret MorrisMargaret Morris, over 3 years ago

    Thank you so much for this, A & W. So many women in my community struggle with the repercussions of this stereotype all day, every day. Wonderful way to open your product to everyone.

    4 points
  • Liam SarsfieldLiam Sarsfield, over 3 years ago

    You're to be commended, Ahmet and William, for going out of your way to correct it. Love the service, but had a hard time introducing it to people because of the name.

    4 points
  • Dan DenneyDan Denney, over 3 years ago

    I wasn't sure what could be offensive about the word geisha, since they are a real and regular part of Japanese culture. However, the definition according to Merriam-Webster is: "a Japanese girl who is trained to entertain men with singing, conversation, etc.".

    The use of the word "men" significantly alters the meaning and was something that I didn't know. So at first, I was disappointed in what appeared to me to be an overreaction. However, I can certainly understand switching away from something with that dictionary definition.

    4 points
    • Allison HouseAllison House, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      Geisha are a celebrated part of Japanese tradition, and you're right—in that cultural context, there's nothing remotely offensive about them. When transported to Western culture, however, we must consider the long history of abuseandmisrepresentation associated with our depictions of the Eastern continent.

      We see remnants of colonialism peering through the comments in this thread. As Westerners, we have difficulty recognizing when we're capitalizing on the distortion of someone else's cherished traditions. Make no mistake—cultural appropriation is damaging, disrespectful, and unambiguously bad. Racism is embedded deeply in our culture, and telling people they're too sensitive doesn't mitigate our complicity.

      (Sorry, Dan, not trying to school you! Just sharing in light of some of the, uh, less educated responses.)

      This is DESIGNER News. If you don't think empathy and sensitivity are a critical part of your work, you may want to sit with that for a minute. Ahmet and William did—and built a more welcoming, inclusive space. Incidentally, that's what great communities are all about. :-)

      16 points
      • Matthaeus KrennMatthaeus Krenn, over 3 years ago

        If you don't think empathy and sensitivity are a critical part of your work, you may want to sit with that for a minute.

        Yeah, it's pretty interesting how eager some folks here are to go on record, essentially dismissing the importance of their audience's perception, the need for empathy, and of creating all-inclusive, non-discriminating environments.

        Every person who is trying to build a good design team right now is hugely worried about diversity. Want to minimize your chances of getting considered for a position? Publicly post how taking issue with discriminating undertones is huge waste of time!

        7 points
  • Thommy BrowneThommy Browne, over 3 years ago

    Respect on your decision in changing the name. Love what you all are doing. Keep it up!

    4 points
  • Shaun TollertonShaun Tollerton, over 3 years ago

    Screw the people who found it offensive. You only need to be transparent behind why you named it the way you did and stick to it. Panda doesn't seem as unique or fun anymore.

    3 points
  • Matthew SaforrianMatthew Saforrian, over 3 years ago

    Thanks for changing the name. It didn't phase me one but I sort of thought all along that there are loaded connotations that come with the word Geisha.

    3 points
  • Naim SheriffNaim Sheriff, over 3 years ago

    I find Panda very offensive.

    3 points
  • Bryan KulbaBryan Kulba, over 3 years ago

    I don't think I can say anything that hasn't already been said, but good for you. We need more people who can hear critique, consider it and make changes that can better their own situation.

    Well done.

    3 points
  • Nick ClementNick Clement, over 3 years ago

    People are far too sensitive. Geisha worked. You shouldn't have caved. Keep up the good work though.

    3 points
  • Devin BoyleDevin Boyle, over 3 years ago

    Looking at the Geisha icon, I can see where she might be interpreted as a subservient hostess. I'm sure that's exactly what the developers were going for, when they chose the name...

    Grow up.

    2 points
  • Alex JohnAlex John, over 3 years ago

    Our new panda buddy is blurry on retina!

    2 points
  • Vasil EnchevVasil Enchev, over 3 years ago

    NOOOO !!!! Bring back geisha it was brilliant ! You are making a compromise for few negative feedbacks. Being liked by everyone is impossible and you have to do whats right for the rest of your users and not to listen to some whining babies finding the whole world around them offensive.

    2 points
    • Sharetung TanSharetung Tan, over 3 years ago

      A lot of people just doesn't care each other feeling and when conflicts occur, insulting the one who doesn't think the same with us is a lot easier :)

      0 points
      • Vasil EnchevVasil Enchev, over 3 years ago

        Spoken with wisdom but still, there are just a lot of people who complain about things that are not really important and beauty suffers. I find the name Geisha just 100 times better than Panda.

        1 point
        • Sharetung TanSharetung Tan, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

          Actually, I agree with you that the name Geisha is better. Panda is sound boring. But I also admire Ahmet for caring for others feeling.

          0 points
  • Derryl CarterDerryl Carter, over 3 years ago

    My initial reaction to "geisha" is "18th century prostitute", so.... yeah, changing it was a good decision.

    I don't find it overtly offensive, but for how little effort it took you to re-brand, you might as well err on the side of propriety.

    2 points
  • Michael LoomesMichael Loomes, over 3 years ago

    I saw that my Geisha had turned into a Panda and was actually hoping it was some 'Day of the Panda' holiday or something I didn't know about..

    I understand the reason for the name change, but honestly, I'm not a fan of 'Panda', it just doesn't represent what it is for me personally. I'd love to hear your reasoning behind why you chose Panda to see if that helps though

    2 points
  • Roy StanfieldRoy Stanfield, over 3 years ago

    I'm glad you all made this change. In the past I've wanted to tell more people about Geisha, but it did feel strange to recommend it to others at Etsy because of the connotation embedded in the name.

    1 point
  • Sindri AvaruusSindri Avaruus, over 3 years ago

    Point one: I like Panda more, so I'm happy with the change. Point two: If you have the time to complain about this, you are obviously not busy enough to matter anyways.

    1 point
    • Ahmet SulekAhmet Sulek, over 3 years ago

      thanks man, nice glasses btw :)

      1 point
      • Sindri AvaruusSindri Avaruus, over 3 years ago

        Oh stop it, you :)

        General rule of thumb, just because you're offended doesn't mean something is offensive. I highly doubt it was your intent. On a related note, I think the YouTube channel Sixty Symbols should be cancelled, because it's abbreviation would be SS.

        0 points
  • Isabelle LepezIsabelle Lepez, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    I've just began to know you and not only the name changed but data available as well. This makes me moooore confused.

    I'm sure Geisha was a kind girl! :)

    1 point
  • Ahmet YalcinkayaAhmet Yalcinkaya, over 3 years ago

    Geisha or Panda we love the app Ahmet ! Keep up good work man :)

    1 point
  • Jacob LindbladJacob Lindblad, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    i'm superconfused, and i personally don't find the new panda logo visually pleasing. but the service is still awesome, so yay for you guys!

    1 point
  • GrumpyUX Man, over 3 years ago

    It would have been better if you just called it Unicorn... We have such a small amounts of unicorns, and it makes me sad.

    1 point
  • alec salec s, over 3 years ago

    So, is this now considered "insensitive" work? A lot of Rubens work contains Geishas...

    Rubens Cantuni - Illustrator

    0 points
    • Allison HouseAllison House, over 3 years ago

      Appropriation has different implications in art, but probably safe to assume the juxtaposition of naked, cartoonishly overweight "geishas" flying a banner that says "XXX Asian Chicks" with a photo of white women pillow fighting in their underwear is not endeavoring to be respectful or sensitive on any front.

      2 points
      • alec salec s, over 3 years ago

        I was asking a serious question. I always liked his work but never really thought of it as offensive, and I don't think he means it that way either. Perhaps in the same way the logo wasn't meant to be offensive.

        Admittedly, it's probably more the style of illustration that appealed to me rather than the content. I'm all for empathy, don't get me wrong. But after reading this thread I instantly thought of it and figured it was worth bringing up.

        0 points
        • Allison HouseAllison House, over 3 years ago

          It was a serious response! It's definitely a cool style of art, and I agree most folks aren't out to spread discriminatory attitudes. But prejudice is embedded so deeply in our culture—so bizarrely normalized in media, pop culture, social scenarios, and so on—that we forget (or in many cases, never know) those experiences exist. They may even accidentally emerge in our work.

          I see misogynistic and racist undertones in these illustrations, but that doesn't mean it was his intention. It could mean he didn't think about it, or doesn't think it matters, or maybe he's making a killing so he ignores those issues, or maybe he's lived in Japan and feels enough ownership to take liberties with cultural imagery. I don't know, but we can say with some certainty he doesn't approach his work with an anti-racist or anti-sexist point of view. As an artist, maybe that's okay... but if this were branding for a product with a global audience, it would be way out of line!

          2 points
  • Melvin Ho YKMelvin Ho YK, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    Mmh, still love Geisha. Panda is just over rated. http://www.nicolaspopupshop.com/ Nico Panda. And I don't get the offensive part either as traditional Geisha take long period on practices and dedication to master art, dance, performance and music. I love the surprise panda greeting when I open my browser thought you guys are doing few icons for different season.

    0 points
  • George DyGeorge Dy, over 3 years ago

    Thanks for the clarification! I think sometimes people are too sensitive and make judgment based on things they perceive instead of pure facts - or definitions in this case. Love the product either way!

    0 points
  • Mehmet DemirMehmet Demir, over 3 years ago

    ellerine saglik ;)

    0 points