EXAMINING THE DEEP SPACE OF
SOULFUL BRAND STRATEGY.
W H A T
You were to think:
“really—there’s something deeper, more profound, more magnetically, more soulfully powerful about the enterprise that I’m working on.”
Really? Perhaps you did ponder that query?
You might be thinking of your brand / team / enterprise / collective / cooperative as a larger and more abstract visualization:
“it’s deep space,
it’s the song of the hero of 1000 faces,
or it’s the poem of the Great Mother of nurture—
or it’s what?
A commerce engine—
la macchina da soldi?
Sometimes the brand is just that—a machine
that works at making something to electrify commerce.
There’s no light there.
But it could be more—depending on who’s firing that engine. A brand team that thinks deeper about their enterprise aren’t a commonplace collective. In decades on decades of brand strategy, team-workshopping and visualized design, textualized messaging, I’ve found that very few people think of their brand as mythic, poetic, metaphorical or as an archetypal allegory.
Mostly, they’re just trying to survive.
It’s a job. Not worthy of contemplation?
Just get there, from point to point, in and out.
But the just getting there—could that be boring?
What’s the journey in that—
where is the why,
to get there?
And therein could be the answer, that your brand’s survival is really attuned to something far more, it’s the reason why you’re there, and it’s the reason why you’re here, doing the work—deep space brand thinking—it’s been founded on an ideology that has a spiritual depth: there is goodness, the brand’s got a deeper framing—there’s an architecture inside the built brand: there’s a there there—it’s a place, it’s magical—it differs distinctly in that it is uniquely disposed to accomplishing a “differentiated offering.”
And in that, it’s transformative—
it evidences deep ideals,
ignites big change.
It’s wonder full: utile [the relevance is immediate: “I need this,” accessible: [easy to approach and relate to,] fascinating [spell-binding.]
You see in, farther.
You go in, further.
What’s memorable—what’s unforgettable
and why: what’s the point of captivation?
Or as I put it,
“what’s the story,
who’s telling it,
what’s it feel and sound like,
and what’s the point—
Really, is that where we’ve gotten, that commerce—it’s this: “make it and give it to me, nothing beyond that…?”
Brands need to care.
who found and run brands—
need to care.
Otherwise it’s a pointless engagement. There is no point > a compelling apex, the channel to drive to[wards.]
20 years ago, I concocted this alignment of brand force and spirit—
“ch’i” as the Graphis interviewer put it.
Still, this idea of energy in design is something that goes far further back for me to the very foundations of my thinking
on calligraphy, movement, drawing and
the spirit of life force [inside the work:]
the ancient 6th century aesthetic and
energetic principles of Hsieh Ho.
They are: Calling that Brandspirit which creates the foundations for brands that either have a philosophical orientation that lies in an internal proposition of betterment, a higher alliance in mystical principles, or brands that have deeper substrates of strategic and tactical meaning—forces for good, happiness, the quest for beauty and wellbeing.
There’s a Light side to rethinking brands and their tactical expression in even considering and the building
of spiritual and mystical brands.
What is the shadow brand,
and what is the brand of light?
G E T C L I M B I N G
For a long time, it’s been said to me—
“you can’t use that word ‘spiritual’
around business people, it will scare them off.
Use ‘mystical’—and get outta here!”
I never listened — even to the most well-intentioned colleagues.
Because in my explorations of brand,
it is all there—it’s always about the mystery of humanity, of how people relate to each other, the stories that they tell.
The inherent character of
brand — its very etymology is fire.
What does that mean for a business?
Set it on fire?
No, it would imply that the character of its leadership,
its direction, is impassioned and ignited — not a doddering shuffle.
Fire is risk.
Fire gets out of control.
But in that immolation, sacrifices are offered,
change emerges, renewal occurs.
Fire clears out deadwood, old brush,
and new growth takes root.
And fire is the mystical allegory of transformation; f
ire is alchemical — it is the hearth and holder, the transformer,
the translational vessel beneath the crucible.
And any brand worth its salt is about change, transformation, gift,
and the mystery of interconnectedness, and
the thread of being — one to one,
one to one billion.
That is the blood surge of passionate commitment.
But that issue of commitment implies
a walk over to the other side,
past the shadow to a different light.
in the dark to
find the Light.
In the years of working: stateside, and internationally, what I find—in the quest for soul, the deep heat and heart of brand — is that there is an enterprise model, and then there’s the brand soul within—it’s a hidden language.
Dark, it’s the shadow; light, it’s the shining.
Some brands, and I’m not naming names, have a dark hidden side—shadow brands —I call them.
Others are luminous—perhaps not so obviously from the onset—but in exploration,
you can find the Light of a team of leaders.
Or you can find the dark soul that
hides behind, lurking in the shadows.
Thinking of it, what comes to mind?
What is BrandLight—and which brand team lives as a BrandShadow?
Brands that are about contributing to humanity, goodness, wellness—they have a fundamental purpose in commerce— brands that are luminous.
I’m thinking of Christi Meshell, the higher and mysterious callings of Matriarch, a perfumery that believes in a core premise: “beauty shall save the world.”
We walk that way, walk farther, looking for the magic inside her formulations, and build out a symbolic lexicon on brand visual linguistics
that speaks Her, long and clear.
Brands that go deep[er]—there’s something more than mere mechanical exchange. What lies within?
Surely, they seek compensation—that is the nature of exchange
— but they are inherently light bearing;
they’re contributing to a higher causality.
In a manner, the premise of mysticality
in brand strategy is mostly a personal take on the state of the world, the work and one’s place in it.
WHAT SHALL YOUR JOURNEY BE?
You’re building your enterprise to do what—for you, your differentiation, your unique compulsion to act—you’re here to wow your world, as well as the realms of others.
Some number of years back, I worked with a former GIRVINist, employee Shawn McNally,
who espoused the idea of building a brand
on the premise of
a higher search in Christian mysticism.
What’s the story, who’s telling it, what’s the feeling?
Who cares about this idea—are there Christian mystics? Are there everyday Christians whose spiritual premise of journey lies in a mystical pathway?
I’ve not met any, Christian Mystics,
but that means nothing…
This brand, of Light,
is called sacred voice,
or Vox Sacra.
IT’S GONE NOW,
ITS PREMISE PREVAILS IN MY MIND.
He wanted to build a layered visualization of his Christian belief, founded in fashion. To fulfill the truth, we dug deep into the GIRVIN rare book library,
a collection of tomes that I’d been gathering for four decades — since my college years.
architecture and perspective,
but as well, studies in symbolism,
art and architectural history,
To me, it all aligns
with the search.
How far, how deep are you
looking, what are you looking for,
and what lies within and beneath.
But in this instance, to building Shawn’s brand,
a collection of books called emblemata.
These books, four hundred years old,
study and create mystical revelations of signs and symbolic experiences
and metaphors that offer insights into
the nature of experience and living life: deep.
I found them fascinating and began to build a collection of them.
More so, I saw them as a path to support Shawn’s visioning.
In addition to the art for the brand —
found, gathered and assembled to be applied to garments,
other patterning was created —
a code of calligraphy in a string of scarves:
The point to the work, as mystically defined as it might been,
was celebrated in the gathering of symbologies and layers of messages
that spoke to profound personal intention
and the vitalization of spirit.
Intent, like tendon, to intend
is to stretch out,
to reach, to lean forward.
There is a humming, a vibration: “I come in contact with this brand, and there’s a vibe, it’s like the people are running with, and are—
T H E Y
H U M :
And like any brand that is well-defined,
what is the reach, the intention?
What — light, dark — where is your brand,
where are you going?
TIM | GIRVIN
HUMAN BRAND DEVELOPMENT | The strategies of rippling genius