When I started in the world of branding, I felt strangely liberated compared to my fellow commuters in the corporate world. Whilst they suffered in their itchy suits and stiff collars, I was free to express myself in whatever way I chose, to dress like a unique individual. Just like everyone else at work.
Today I find myself in one of the three variations on the male branding uniform: a reasonably priced gingham shirt, selvedge denim jeans and a pair of brown oxfords. In the event of a client meeting I have the option to 'dress it up' with a jacket, but tomorrow I'll mix it up with chinos, a denim shirt and maybe show some ankle. Sound familiar?
In our office we have a wall of photos dedicated to 'Typical Togs', where if you're lucky enough to come to work as the body-double of another colleague, your mug makes the wall. And I am now a repeat offender.
I've noticed that just like many brands in our world, we're all guilty of wanting to blend in. What I’m coming to learn is that to survive in this industry, we can’t simply mirror those around us, that's not what makes great work. Or great brands for that matter.
Think about the people in your life you love to be around. Who make you sit up and listen, and make you laugh. They are the people who keep us a little on edge, who actually stand for something, who don't take themselves too seriously, and are happy to stick out if it means being true to themselves.
Thinking of myself as my own personal 'brand manager' (although slightly cringe-worthy) has been incredibly valuable. It forces us to not only consider what we want to stand for, but has invariably lead to a better understanding of what great brands are made of.
Maybe it's time for me to lose the gingham.
Gareth Stewart, strategist at Interbrand Sydney
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