It’s important to celebrate little successes.

Last week we had our second Brand+Bread meetup, at IED Innovation Lab, and I’m going to take a moment here to celebrate the fact we made time once again to come and dissect branding— this time taking apart the concept of — had the patience to listen to each other once again, the interest to debate and the curiosity to question. And not only that, but some of us even managed to follow through last time’s meetup — on —and write down their thoughts on . So before we dive into the super rich conversation surrounding , here’s a round up of thought pieces from our small emerging community. I encourage you to read, they’re all valuable, brainy and fun.

From Lionel Malka, a thoughtful piece on whether branding as a discipline will make it through or not.

From The Colossus Time, a culturally-immersed piece debating whether brand is or could be more than a logo.

From Sara Orte Santana, a visual essay (check out all 5 posts) from Madrid’s streets on what brands should not be.

From Merlin Duff, a psychology-inspired analysis on what brand and branding are in their purest essence.

[Scroll to the end of the article to find out how to join the conversation.]

Now back to April.

We were pretty excited to have the awesome Pablo Jarauta join us and kick off our conversation with his view on the meaning and evolution of identity in today’s complex (and by complex he does not mean complicated! read on) world. Along with Pablo, we also had around the table another Pablo, Rob, Lionel, German, Silke, Isabel, Sara, Damjan, Roberto, Dario, Helga, Joana, Cristina, and yours truly. Questions to answer?

Pablo on why identity is complex

My brief summary won’t do justice to Pablo’s narrative treasure hunt, and nor do I want to spoil the fun of hearing him talk live, but nevertheless, here’s some notes that stayed with me, which I hope will be thought starters for you too.

  • R.U.R. is a 1921 SF play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek, where the word “robot” appeared for the first time. It’s perhaps the first modern incidence of questioning one’s identity in the face of imminent artificiality.
  • . And by complex we’re referring to interconnectedness — the original meaning of the Latin term — and not or, what we tend to say when we use the word complex. So identity is the interconnection of many different relationships we have in our lives: with ourselves, with others, and with the world we live in.
  • of relationships intertwined in our identities led to the need of customisation and further on personalisation of pretty much everything around us.
  • In the same way you don’t see a relationship between you and another person, but you feel it.
  • Because of the nature of interactions we now have in our lives, . And emotion is closely related to experience. Which is, by all means, overexploited in our industry today.
  • . Complexity → interconnectedness → multiplicity means that in a complex world we can identify with people that are completely different from ourselves, except for one aspect. A white Spanish teacher can be the same as an old Russian lady because they are both hard rock fans. (On a side note, check out . Fantastic and pretty accessible read on this topic and a few others.)
  • When you define something, you finish it. And that challenges the practice of branding — which normally aims to define and design (finished) things.

Linking identity and brand

And continuing the conversation, here’s my takeaways from the many great thoughts shared around the table:

  • In the context of identity, with products, things, companies: creating a relationship that is felt, not only seen.
  • If (there is no empathy between them and people), then how about innovation? Is the role of innovation not to create something completely new? Or perhaps innovation is, in fact, creating something relatable, but slightly less then everything else we already have in our lives.
  • In the context of identity as a means to relate to the world, .
  • , you borrow identity from the things around you that do have a strong identity: what you buy, what you wear, what you use, what you listen to. So in this context,
  • There is a tension creative people have: between representing the reality, and imagining something new. Which is where might the unrealistic (we’ll not call it fake) feeling of brands might come from. Perhaps a more philosophical explication is that .

As expected, things slightly slid towards a greyish area of identity-meets-brands-meets-culture, yet equally compelling for understanding the role identity plays in creating brands.

  • Historically, (particularly in autocratic countries) it has often happened that the leader weakens his people’s need for personal identity by ‘lending’ them his own.
  • Do we? Is that why we look up to Steves, Elons and Queen B’s?
  • Attempt to brand one’s self is, in fact, creating a sort of meta identity. It’s reinforcing the tension between what I am and what I want to be.
  • , only individual identity. On one hand the meaning of who the collective is is changing. And on the other, aren’t the collective experiences and beliefs, in fact, ?

A question we’ll try answering at our next meeting, on 3rd May, when we’ll continue the deconstruction of brand with a deep dive into . Sign-up for the meetup (taking place in Madrid) is available here.

If these thoughts left you pondering, I’d like to invite you, dear reader, to join the conversation by writing your own answer to the questions above. Bring in your own perspective —of a strategist, a designer, a marketeer, an end-user, a wild card, a lover or a hater. Publish your point of view on your company’s blog, here on Medium, in a tweet, an instagram photo, in a vlog or in whatever format you’re more comfortable with. We’re using #brandandbread to keep track of them.

Brand+Bread

Design Strategist. I analyse stuff and have opinions about it.

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