In this post, I will share something about what got me to re-start this company and why I do what I do.
I also want to tell you why that latter thing really matters.
Here’s me in 2012 talking about why I care so much about finding out what it is that really matters, and staying true to that, through your life. It’s a TEDx talk, in my hometown of Raleigh—it’s called ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left.’
A year after this, I was on the road in South and Southeast Asia. For a trip. A trip that I’m still on, in some ways, but with forays around to N. Europe to connect from time to time through 2017-2020 to make S P A C E the zine. And meet new people, and hear new ways of thinking. Was good. Was really fun.
The whole thing about the overwhelming saturation of things that gets in the way of the real. The real and the authentic and the sincere. I’ve been very tired of this culture of the global trend towards ‘look good’ but… I always peel back the curtains and try to get to the depth of the thing. Usually finding nothing of remarkable quality, behind the scenes. My questions go all in the same direction. Where is the substance? What is truly behind it? Who are you and what you do mean when you say this? Wait, you’ve not thought about it? So what is all this… song and dance?….
I’m tired. So I wanted to restart DK to bring back classic branding. Which is really about getting to the heart of something and to communicate that passionately. With the passion behind it. The passion, in other words, the ‘heart’. To connect. Meaningfully. I haven’t seen that around lately, so I wanted to share my tools with some who are ready to try out Design Kompany’s informal, light, but substance-based angle on approaching the creative process.
What branding can do is connect us
Like I said I don’t have a smartphone. I deleted my personal twitter and made the @designkompany one private, a long while ago. Because it was getting out of hand, ‘managing’ some kind of abstract ‘image’ or whatever. Would rather just go for a walk, run into people, start a conversation. (I don’t do this anymore, given covid and a change of phase in life that really is about nurturing a few key relationships instead of starting all over, all the time, because I value strength in things that build over time. They may change. They will hopefully grow. But at their root, they share an interest in evolving, for the long haul. I like that. Longevity.) I went offline and stopped DK because I needed to remember that the point of it wasn’t to ‘grow my followers’, for me. It was to connect.
I still feel that way. I still host conversations, and online ‘salon’s along with eWorkshops like Mirror and Interactive Papers, but I do it more personally through those things, at my own site, now. Not at DK’s. DK’s is a service. How to get to the story, the proper and most authentic and realest story, that is, no some airbrushed glossy nonsense with flying graphics that doesn’t mean anything.
So I reopened DK in March 2022. Let DK do its thing which is clarify for people what it is that matters to them, by listening together, and sharing, and going that way, one step at a time.
Purpose. ‘Start with Why’ video by Simon Sinek
What’s your purpose? This might help you figure it out. It’s called ‘Start with why?’ The ‘golden circle’ idea by Simon Sinek is oft-referred to when you talk to anyone who might help you think out your branding, your market positioning, and the things you can do. ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’
Check out this video.
To paraphrase, the goal is not to sell to people who want to buy what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.
‘Be authentic to who you are, the values you have’
This article in Forbes talks about branding like this. ‘Be authentic to who you are, the values you have, and the skills you excel at. Authenticity is imperative to branding success. Avoid pressure to constantly reinvent yourself or overstate and inflate your message. A simple articulation of who you are and what you are good at – shared succinctly and clearly – will suffice to nail down your brand.’
DK wants to just do what it wants to do which is branding, brand identity design, and nothing else in the middle to get stuck with explaining to people because the pictures say it. Clearly, simply, straightforwardly.
I started this post originally on Design Kompany’s LinkedIn, just to share what I really think and feel about design, and branding, and the things that it can do for those of us who want to get really real and down to earth about talking to others with clarity. Occasionally resonance, but more importantly, clarity.
Being real is hard because it means being okay with saying ‘okay that’s not a thing, now,’ but being real is much more honest than pretending.
Pretending isn’t authentic
Pretending to be interested. Pretending to care. Pretending to have feelings about a thing. Pretending to want to do something. Pretending to yourself that you are a thing but not really knowing at all what you are—that’s the world today with too much clutter, too much noise, too much distraction and too little Real. Design isn’t what I do, in the main, here at DK. Clarifying is. Get real. Get serious. Get honest. Not for everyone. Naturally. But for me, being real means having fun, and I love finding people who also want to be real and have real fun. It’s more interesting, after all, that way.
I like this podcast episode interviewing Lisa Haggis, about being real with your marketing and branding. This part really felt straight up like it was talking to me, directly. Someone said to her, she said, that free people are not easily offended. Haggis: ‘And I remember hearing that and I was a person who was easily offended and, and so it, it really struck me and I examined it and, and I saw the truth in it. … or afraid that other people will think about us because it wasn’t that I was afraid people would find it out about me because I wasn’t even acknowledging it was true. I was afraid other people would think that I was heart led and like, you know, soft… It’s probably true and I’m not accepting it. And that’s how I found most of the clues around the ways that I was being you know, just kind of lying to myself because the fear comes from, you know, like I think a pretty honest place… Yeah. Yeah. Well… my true background is in marketing. Like I worked early in my career in marketing positions for some small companies and some larger companies and you’re right. You know the. Like putting honesty and authenticity in the forefront, in your marketing and how you’re showing up. It is not the top priority for a lot of organizations out there. And so for me being a marketing person, I felt a lot of frustration when I was being asked to grow numbers or, you know, bring in revenue or audiences for these brands that. In my opinion, kind of didn’t deserve the attention. Didn’t deserve the clients, the customers, because they weren’t showing up in a way that made them worth mentioning worth marketing. And that’s when I really like, started getting interested in what, what happens before that part, because I know we’re going to talk about marketing versus branding later. But most people don’t understand that marketing is more than communications. Right?’
Here is another snippet I found online. I found this on a post on this website about content. The author M. Andrews writes: ‘In our heads we think and talk to ourselves (thoughts), while in our bodies we process various emotional, visceral or unconscious reactions (feelings). We can have thoughts and feelings about ourselves (our self concept), and about other people or things, such as brands… Feelings and thought play off each other. Their interplay is most intense when feelings and thoughts are aligned or “fused”: the times when people are most convinced of what they encounter is real.’
This video gives us a way to go about becoming more real. It’s a summary of what Carl Jung, psychologist, says is how you can reach your fullest potential in life. Jung had said, ‘I am not what happens to me. I am what I choose to become.’