Through a brander’s perspective

by Michael Fisher
February 2023
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by Michael Fisher
February 2023
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It might sound vain at first glance, but recently I’ve kept myself busy with self-branding. And no, not a superficial corporate identity for my professional activities – my portfolio website still isn't updated, and my logo hasn't changed since 2017.

If anything, I tried to take a huge step backwards and look in the mirror in a bigger-picture-kind-of-way. Why am I doing the things I'm doing, saying the things I'm saying? What's my essence? Just like with business clients, I went on a quest for 'why' and was therefore able to understand myself better and position myself more deliberately to the outside world. Once the bigger picture has a clear shape, it's time to zoom back in and align all the small, odd details with my essence. And eventually, also my website will get a make-over – directly linked to my 'why'.

Enough about myself. So, what happens when you're continuously busy with an idea or a concept? You (or at least I) project this idea to the people and things around you. So I started to walk through life continuously wearing my branding* glasses and wondered – if this person was a brand, what would their essence be? I constantly try to zoom out to get a glimpse of the bigger picture, just to zoom back in again to check whether the details are in line with that bigger picture. Soon, the phrase 'on brand' has become a regular spot in my vocabulary - much to the joy of my friends. "Oh, this behaviour of yours is so on brand". "Your choice of drink totally matches your brand". "You're going to Paris? Very much on brand".

"Why would you do that (apart from annoying your friends)?", I hear you saying. Looking at something or someone through the branding frame gave me some beautiful insights. Otherwise, contrasting actions suddenly made sense – because they refer to the same essence, just from different directions. Branding helps me to understand the world around me a bit better as it breaks a subject down to its red thread, to its essence.

Of course, you need hours of talking, researching and thinking to clearly pinpoint someone's/something's essence. However, seeing correlations in behaviours or traits usually doesn't take that long – especially when you approach it like a commercial branding project. These correlations give you a better knowledge of a subject. You start to grasp why, for example, someone prefers snowboarding to skiing or why someone ‘suddenly’ started thinking that we’re suppressed by an elite of lizards. It doesn’t mean you need to support someone's or something’s virtues. But such an understanding helps you to connect, to start a dialogue. And if you ask me, a dialogue remains one of the best remedies for polarization. So, my daring theory: 'Branding may bring about more connection in our world'. When applied right.*

In this series of brief biographies, I take a look at different subjects through the branding lens and swiftly try to define red threats. Starting close by with small, peculiar details – like an odd door in my city or my cat's paws making another batch of cookies. Eventually, I try to zoom out by climbing the highest tower in my city or watching my cat’s tantrums from a distance. The goal is to make underlying relations visible and therefore to grasp my town, my pet or any other subject a bit better.

*1 - In a nutshell: branding is a framework that captures the identity of a company, organization or person. At the core lies the essence – the purpose that drives the brand's actions and legitimates its existence. All puzzle pieces of a brand have to refer to this core.
*2 - Disclaimer: a brand is always an approximation of the truth. The less research you do, the more vague (or incorrect) your findings may be. So never see a brand as THE truth.

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