As a global wanderer—and a wonderer, in that wandering—I’m always thinking about that notion of the deeper side of the stride.
And I ask: “what, to walking, what to the steps forward, what is the sense of the way ahead?”
And when I think about the work that we’re doing, as brand designers, strategists, writers and thinkers—
“there’s more here, there is what is seen and heard, and there is what lies beneath, and below that, and what lies within.”
In our experience as brand consultants, brands are—and should be—on a perpetual move,
never quiet, always exploring, evolving, tuning and turning to new relationships and communities.
And most brands do—with forward thinking leadership, they’re thinking—
“we’re missing something here, we don’t have our story right,
our imagery is old and outdated, we’re not speaking with the community
that we need to be communicating with.“
I-25 New Mexico
This line of exploration and brand [r]evolution speaks to innovation—which, inherently in its etymology, shall voice the new.
Studying the history of the word structure, which begins about 2000 years ago,
its latest reformation is from the mid 16th century: thence from Latin innovat– ‘renewed, altered’,
from the verb innovare, from in- ‘into’ + novare ‘make new’ (from novus ‘new’).
New, of course, is the obvious answer, obviously it speaks to refreshment; but there is, too—
“altered,” which speaks to a slightly different intonation—altering implies a kind of adjustment. As in a tuning, refinement and modification—
and each of these has their own storytelling of meaning.
The movement forward settles on a pathway that goes somewhere—perhaps, in your beginning contemplation—you, your brand—you’re thinking,
“where does that go?”
That could be—“let’s explore and find out—where, what, and how our story is told–what it means for us, what we’re thinking about as the stance and positioning of our brand, our enterprise—is there a deeper calling, something that lies in the heart of why we are here, what we are doing—what we are making?”
The deep space of brand soul
While some might decry “soul” as a fabrication
[“how can a mechanism of commerce have a soul?“ is the cry of disbelief]—
soul, also an ancient word tells of “journey and the sea,”
since soul—in its earlier forms—is “sea.”
Pretty simple—brands are made by people for people.
The makers imbue their spiritual intentionality
into the making of their enterprises.
And every brand that lasts, is about the evolutions in telling in its journey.
Once a pharmaceutical company, now a beauty group?
Once computers, then “phones.”
Once water, now nutrition?
Once paper, now health?
Sure, you might say, “what, some of these are obvious, but did they really start that way?”
The spirit of a brand can transit if it begins to look towards the needs of its customers, the sway of planetary needs and globalized trends, and
the very heart of the why of its being.
We break it out simply, and perhaps obviously,
to the following series of brand-related [or life-driven] queries:
are we here?
are we doing?
are we listening to?
do we stand for something—
is there a greater purpose?
And the core nature of GIRVIN’s stance is, “what’s the story, who’s telling it, for whom is the story told, and finally, most crucially—who cares?”
Of course, you’ll make what you are, truth be told to the stronger pathway—
everyone’s looking for the authentikos—the true soul of a thing: authentes.
Path straight, or labyrinthine—a way the water goes,
a wander—it fills its own journey.
There is a path—“a brand’s like a story, which is, what and who is the protagonist?
When does the story begin? What is the arc of the plot? And what antagonist?”
There is one story, there is a singular plot line, which, woven, is many threads.
Tell me who this is—
a imaginative brand narrative:
“We, Joe and Leo, had a dream—we made a discovery of just the right method
to garden the soil, prepare a plant, and well-water wisdom ways—a poetry of living that spread to taste, and the promulgation of fragrance—and the implications of taste worldwide; but when we learned more from the older ones—about how to mince leaves, distill, infuse and dry to pestle, and to be consistent in this production—this then was copied by others, and our ideas were blown to the wind. We moved ahead—another path, made on the first: I packaged my ingredients. We walked the stores—the food, ingredient and fragrance aisles of the world, sharing—and we made more; and more friends, more brands.
Made tea, incensed fragrances, oils and powders—then bars, cereals, influencing a range of ingredients, then foods. Others copied, but we kept to our path, our storytelling, and offered the narrative to others.
And now, our ‘children’ carry on the mission—our fragrant fields, mountain farms,
a scientific visioning andour ‘sensational’ message spreads.
Like the dream of a garden, flourishing in the wander, and wonder, of taste and scent.”
Everything comes down to that stride forward:
dream and ideate,
invent, create and make,
enumerate, produce and multiply—
to the degree of your visioning.
Which, daily, takes a new turn—it becomes a new wandering in the tour of the journeying.
Brand invention, transition, evolutions and refreshment
are a constant state of impermanence:
everything changes, constantly.
Brands need to move, to live.
Kind of like everything else.
The nature of telling is listening first, since story is history;
it is where the brand was: what it was made from,who made it and why.
It comes back to what the listener hears, the nature of narrative—
the wander forward, listening to the wind of change,
and explicating wonderment, brand embracement and connectivity.
And this is the telling to what the brand is, and who that was, is,
could be and shall become—
in the narrative augury of the futurist.
There is a brand song—any song is a chant—of course, that speaks to
a GIRVIN R, as in resonance;
and enchantment is intermingled in the siren’s notes of the song of the sea.
Is your brand a theory—a postulate?
Or something held—as a realized object—
I as an actualized product?
Which would then be engaged by enticed, enchanted relationships.
Then embraced—“this is the brand story, this is my story.”
comes back to what
That voice is the calling.
It is the calling-out.
And the calling-in—the shout, the whisper.
As in any journey,
the map-maker is the journalist;
every step of a map is an hour, the jour of the moment—its momentum.
The journey and the journal, their documentation intertwines—
as the plait-work of a pathway.
In the narrative, there is a loom of experience—which is the earth and the heavens, the forward and the back,
west and east, the up skyward, the downward gaze to the center of the earth and the south.
And the north, in any brand compass-finding.
The loom gathers the threading, the warp and the weft
and shuttles the holism of the fabric.
Which is, of course,
Think mysticism—and, to our take, brand mysticism the listener might contemplate the visage of a mystical being, veiled in obscuration. But the mystic is merely the quester of the initiation—the first step in transformation; the mystic explorer of the shadowed and diaphanous world—but perhaps, in fact, it is always through the mist, the fog of being, the wanderer in the trackless land, that we see more clearly beyond, in what is deeper. And brands, their enterprises, can be superficial, skin-deep and transactional; or they can be deeper, more intentionally gravid, more deeply-visioned—and even today, in a brand workshop, we walked with a team of co-founders that sought just that: a bigger picture from the mist to clarity, a larger visioning—a scientific mission that works towards a mission of global rejuvenation—amazement, wonderment, mind change.
Each of us has been in a shadowed place, that is then made light—
a fog-shrouded place that slowly emerges to a clarifying glimpse—
you can now see forever.
Brigantine Bay, San Juan Islands
And that process—the wander from darkness to light is, in a manner of metaphor, the mystical pathway, since it’s an initiation in seeing—being enwrapped, then opened—in the start-up of a rite of initiation—the step through. And every process of brand development is about capturing that point of epiphanic initiation—a client, customer—they didn’t know, and now they are initiated, brought into the fold of the story, which shall become their story.
M Y S T I C A L
Latin from Greek mustikos, from mustēs
‘initiated person’ from muein ‘close the eyes or lips’, also ‘initiate’.
For anyone on that voyage, that means going in,
and then getting through.
To go out there.
To the edge of the next.
That’s where the discoveries are—on the edge.
Odemira-São Teotónio, Portugal
Some brands shall always be superficial, transaction-shell-games,
while others seem to have a kind of, pardon the alliteration, mystique.
The point would be that the true value of any brand
lies in the depth of its community of transactors.
Go deeper, into and
inside the mist of being—to be transformed,
a tiered commitment in relational storytelling, reflective user-brand narratives
and delight in the discovering.
It’s all to experience more.
And more is rarely enough.
TIM | Walk far, wander farther, wonder wide