My personal brand purpose.

6 Dec

One day I had a rare epiphany at my desk: that the lessons I have learned in my time bringing brands to life might also help me to better understand what it is I want out of my own existence.

What resulted was a truckload of self-doubt, although in many ways this helped me to clarify a handful of my ambitions. The problem is, it turns out that most of the things I have been wanting are just really, really hard to come by.

So before you read this, I feel like I should warn you of exactly how completely miserable this mantra has kept me over the last 27 years. And also reinforce what an exciting, and at times productive, life it has made for.

Carrying an excruciatingly heavy set of personal expectations with you everywhere you go isn’t always practical. Nor, I imagine, is it particularly healthy or sensible. But I think it is probably good practice to examine your principles and try to reduce them to a clear purpose. A reason for being.

Why is it important to the world that you exist?

This is the first question you’d ask every brand you work with, given the chance. When a brand has a purpose, everyone with a responsibility to that brand has some tangible way to measure the things they say and do.

That sense of clarity is one of the reasons I have aspired to a brand purpose for myself. I can assure you it is born more out of curiosity than any kind of obsessive compulsive disorder. And anyway, the point of the exercise is not for me to modify my behaviour, because as chief executive of my existence, I am vetoing the fuck out of anyone who thinks they can tell me what I ought to say, or how I ought to behave. This is not about fooling myself into being a better person, either. It’s just about finding a flag to carry into battle.

As I worked through the architecture to reach my personal brand purpose, I began to see a few flaws in the exercise. How long would I need to stick to this purpose before I was entitled to a re-brand? Was it a problem that my current brand purpose was bound to differ from my brand purpose as a pre-23-year-old (the age at which I finally became an actual person)? What would this mean for me in the years beyond my inevitable mid-life crisis? If occasionally bending the rules around how my brand behaved (say at 4.00am on a Saturday morning) would I be undermining my fundamental principles – or just ‘keeping it fresh’?

Aside from shattering all of the very rigid ideas I had around the benefits of a brand’s architectural process, what I realised is that I had to seek a more flexible tool with which to measure my reason for being.

What I eventually arrived at was a question I could ask myself at any point during the during the week, amidst the annual moment of clarity I call ‘The Christmas Break’, or on my death bed, provided I still had cognitive function, which given the geriatric dementia that seems to run in my family I somewhat doubt.

Answers may scale from the slightest of tiny achievements – like writing a song with which to serenade a woman, right through to life’s great victories – like causing that woman to exit a baby from her sexy canal. The important thing is that I must be able to answer this question with something convincing – anything – or else it’s time for a new agency. So to speak.

Here is my personal brand purpose. A micro-architecture for being me. The heavy set of expectations I like to carry around, in spite of all they do to ensure my life is as difficult as is humanly possible.

Perhaps it will serve to inspire you also. Or perhaps you can dispute its relevance in the comments section and set me free.

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2 Responses to “My personal brand purpose.”

  1. Aimee December 7, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. I joke. I joke.

    I think that it is dangerous to measure success by having made ‘stuff’. In an age of consumption greater than ever before – products, images, ideas – this is the shortest route to dissatisfaction. Your thing will only be usurped by another thing, and the usurper will have had to put in a lot less effort to get there. Finding a purpose that is an attitude, philosophy or way of seeing yourself and the world might provide more longterm satisfaction, make your mark on everything, for example. Cultivate your personal brand by impressing yourself on everything and everyone you touch.

    • jonoaidney December 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      Alas, my counter argument to this is something I have been battling with a lot lately.

      I have found that unless I measure myself on output, I never output anything. Every day can be a battle. I could write the best TV ad of my life, but unless the agency supports it, the client buys it, and the budget allows for it – what do I have to show for it?

      After 5 years of having nothing to show for it, I have decided that the only way I can be confident in my decision-making (Do I stay at a job or leave? Do I work late or go home to relax? Do I brag about it or keep it casual?) is whether or not it has actually happened yet. If the answer is no, it doesn’t matter how good the idea was, it doesn’t exist.

      1/99 reasons why I am miserable.

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