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Build a reputation instead of a personal brand

Replied to The personal brand paradox (

When we position ourselves as a brand, we are forced to project an image of what we believe most people will approve of and admire and buy into. The moment we cater our creativity to popular opinion is the precise moment we lose our freedom and autonomy.

But rather than manufacturing a personal brand, why not build a reputation? Why not develop our character? Imagine what we could learn from each other if we felt worthy as we are instead of who we project ourselves to be.

I think it’s interesting to look at personal brands through the lens of insecurity. I imagine many people think of it as “positioning” or storytelling, but underneath, those are needed if you’re afraid you won’t be enough on your own.

I think it can be helpful to consider personal branding as a form of self discovery, a tool to help determine what you want to do, but there can be a risk of self containment.

Art and Design Websites

Defining visual minimalism

Replied to What Is Too Minimal? – Carl Barenbrug (Carl MH Barenbrug)

A product designer and creative director at Minimalissimo

A minimalist design approach adds only what is needed, and takes away what is not; that doesn’t mean it must be devoid of ornament or color.

Typically, people want their website’s branding to:

  • be distinctive and memorable to visually distinguish the brand, so visitors know without checking the URL or byline whose work they’re seeing
  • present text so it’s easy to read
  • convey a vibe aligned with their mission

Color and ornamentation may be key to those ends, in which case, a minimalist design could incorporate both, though using the least needed to provide function, establish a brand feel, and accomplish their goals.

Which colors raises many questions; our cultural vision of a neutral minimalism has coalesced around black on white or white on black. With minor changes in styling, these simple pallettes can become classy, chic, brutalist, academic, anything really. But I think too often black and white websites are underdone; they are often not visually distinct.

That’s where color comes in, and another discussion point about minimalism: is it about the number of elements or the feel of the design? A hot pink and yellow website would feel loud, but only have two colors, so might qualify as minimalist if simplicity is the intent. If minimalism is more vibe than construction, that begs the question of whether all vibes count as minimalist — are certain moods inherent to minimalism, while others are excluded? Perhaps it’s a matter of sensation: should a minimalist website provoke our senses as little as possible (e.g. avoiding loud color combinations or bold colors like bright red)?

In short, is minimalism an aesthetic or a philosophy?

It’s possible that someone could intentionally create a website that’s visually difficult to read (please don’t), or that they don’t care about taking credit for their work and don’t care about distinguishing their brand. Yet to choose no styling is a design decision — arguably not a good one for readability (at least set a max text width!), a decision nonetheless. Unstyled is more of a philosophical statement than a visual neutral in the context of today’s web.

Via Leon.

Art and Design Fun

Name your brand colors

Bookmarked Name Your Colors! (

Here’s a fun experiment: if your app has a designer, ask them how many colors they think are in your app. Then, count the number of colors that you actually use in your app. The bigger the app, the more comical the difference will be.

I’ve got a solution for this which is pretty fun to boot. You should name your colors.

Why not? Always thought it’d be fun to come up with product color names.

Art and Design Society Websites

Personal Website Aesthetics

How do personal websites reflect social and aesthetic movements like lowbrow / outsider art, anti-capitalism/corporatism, minimalism?

Getting some quick thoughts on “paper”:

  • is DIY necessary for self-expression online? can templatized designs offer self-expression (e.g. wordpress templates)? or is that too reflective of the aesthetic zeitgeist?
  • does “slickness” and minimalist design inherently feel corporate now? how are corporate brands co-opting “humanity” through design choices? “imperfect / “more human” typography (e.g. type designed for print used online, exposing the bleed wells) becoming more popular recently in corporate design — have noticed it lately on Grist… will we see a rejection of minimalism and shift into maximalist design on personal websites? I feel like I see lots of minimalist personal websites
  • when personal websites are our personal brand how much risk are people willing to take with them? designers and artists want to show personality, but maybe not too much if they’re trying to attract corporate clients? is design staying safe in that realm? I suspect non-designers might be pushing the envelope more on aesthetics, more willing to experiment, though honestly don’t look around at folks’ portfolio websites the way I used to back in the Old Web — how would you do that these days, Smashing Magazine roundups?
  • what’s punk online today? what’s the website equivalent of a zine? the photocopy look or the ethic of throw this up fast and cheap?
  • connection between lowbrow / outsider art and rise of personal design — people have gained the power to design who didn’t have it before, and don’t have training, but want to have fun and express themselves… back in the day, Geocities websites and spinning gifs… did rise of unhindered “outsider” online creation coincide or interact in any way with rise of outsider art and lowbrow in the art world?
  • as anti-work / anti-corporate / anti-capitalist sentiment spreads, how will that change design aesthetics, online and off? will a more handmade look appeal? will craftsmanship return, and what would that look like in web form? (thinking of $$$ letterpress printed books I’ve seen lately)
Art and Design

Placemaking with Vintage-Inspired Branding

Liked Snowy Valleys Branding by For the People Agency (

The Snowy Valleys is a land beyond time, where life moves to a slower, more considered pace. The identity is built around this idea of seasonality and time. The typeface draws inspiration from historical regional signage combined with the stencilling found on local produce crates. Imagery elevates out-of-license heritage illustrations that favour attention to detail and craft that can only be produced with ample time.

I like the combination of modern typography with vintage illustrations and playful typographic layouts. It stands out in place branding which often seems to be photo-focused. Feels classic while still fitting the 2020 aesthetic vibe. Branding and design by For the People agency.

Art and Design

Branding as a Literal Story

Liked Story Cafe (

Story Cafe in Lane Cove celebrates coffee’s foundational role in life’s stories, by using every point of interaction as a jumping off point into a new type of story. A conversation over a flat white might become a love affair, for example, or a croissant might become the treasured prize to fight over. And as each new story enfolds, we show our respect to the legacy of storytelling, by exploring various forms (like haikus, screenplays, and branching narratives) or library-esque loyalty cards.

The enigmatic Monster character watches over the proceedings, representing the great unknown of stories yet to be told, and illustration collaborations allow the brand to explore non-verbal storytelling from non-traditional perspectives on limited-edition packaging and merchandise. But all of these different expressions are united by a core belief: as long as you’re open to it, your next great story could be just around the corner.