I’m not sure that’s true–at least not outwardly.
I’ve been a designer, brand strategist and agency owner for quite some time (2 years since I could comfortably call myself a ‘proprietor’). So one would think that I’d have it all figured out when it comes to authenticity and standing out. But then again, one could (and would) be wrong.
I’m also a former basic brand. Guilty as charged. (“Hi, I’m Erik and I’m a basic brand.” Your turn: “Hi, Erik”.)
In 2020, I went through an upheaval of sorts. A dear colleague of mine, who hadn’t known me very well personally at the time, over many conversations began unearthing things about my personality; things that she was astounded to learn. For instance: I’ve had a love for classic monsters since I was 7 years old and I’ve got a thing for taxidermy. Morbidity swoons me, what can I say.
In comparing me to the brand that I had devised for myself, then called CAKE; a bright and cheery identity which focused on helping solopreneurs DIY their own brand, she became overtly appalled. She could not fathom how I’d bulldozed past these far more intriguing bits of my psyche in favor of this false face.
To be honest, it had never consciously occurred to me. In fact, I prided myself on being the chameleon; blending in so my clients could be the ones to stand out. I had been be vehemently, ruthlessly against using myself as the face of my company, let alone make it like me in the least. That would have been too easy, too egomaniacal. The thought made me cringy all over.
After denying the idea and some generous prodding on her part, I eventually came around. She pulled out of me (through my grumbling) the pieces that formed the now version of my agency–Uncommon Crowd.
Amazingly, the most unexpected thing happened. I was finally able to find some truth in what I was peddling, making it so much easier and more enjoyable than I’d ever experienced. And I began making more sales–without even trying. In attempting to produce not only a product/service but a look and feel that I thought everyone wanted from me (and hiding myself in the process), I was both denying myself joy and limiting my sales potential because I was actually selling something I didn’t fully believe in.
Fast forward–the struggle isn’t real. I used to worry and fret and whine over what packages I offered, who would want them and how to get them interested. Now I just do. I just make. Of course there are challenges; I wouldn’t be running a business if there weren’t. But they’re no longer about direction or truth. I don’t have to guess anymore. I just know.
It’s easy to fall into this trap of sameness and self-repression; to convince yourself it's better to be the chameleon. I know because as you’ve just been informed, it happened to me, but also more unequivocally due to the ever present need to fit in (thank you social media). Nearly involuntarily, we are bombarded daily by a state of existence that rivals that of middle school. But this too is a falsehood; it is quite the opposite.
Different is the answer. Individuality has always been the key.
If you know anything about the brain, you know its main purpose hinges on survival; keeping us alive. It also has a hard time forgetting after its been told the same thing day in and day out. It latches on and forces us to operate under the pretenses we create for ourselves until we consciously stop the merry-go-round and politely tell it to fuck off.
And you do have to tell it. Scream it, if you must.
To have true growth in yourself and your company, you have to sluff off the nonsense; that fear of rejection, vulnerability and different.
The truth is, we’re far more interesting, ingenious, and intriguing than we ever give ourselves credit for. And credit, believe me, is due.
Trust me, it won’t hurt as bad as you think. And besides, who the hell wants to be basic anyway?
While the mainstream use of Artificial Intelligence has been brewing for some time, a recent crop up of A.I. design and messaging platforms is stirring the online pot in a big way.