“How did life flip into one thing that must be carried out, not lived?”
Beat Kaspar Baudenbacher poses this query nearly off-handedly in tiny textual content on the backside of the web page in his new e-book, Someplace Sure: The Seek for Belonging in a World Formed by Branding. It’s one of many numerous existential quandaries Baudenbacher broaches in his e-book, as he dissects the observe and idea of branding and its chokehold on our society.
The Swiss-born Baudenbacher is the co-founder of the New York inventive company loyalkaspar, the place he presently serves as Chief Artistic Officer. After he got here to the states within the mid-90s to attend the ArtCenter Faculty of Design in Pasadena, he landed a job in New York and by no means left. “I used to be simply going to type of cease by right here on my approach again to Europe and obtained caught,” he instructed me over a Zoom name from his place in Brooklyn. Now with over twenty years of expertise within the branding biz, Baudenbacher has authored Someplace Sure. “I don’t know if that is the top of a journey or the start of a journey,” he stated. “I’m not fairly certain.”
Someplace Sure is the product of a four-year evolution that began from a presentation Baudenbacher gave at a convention. With the assistance of a talking coach, he zeroed in on the central theme of the best way we glance to branding for a way of belonging. “The aim was to put in writing my model of a TedTalk: What’s my story in 20 minutes?” he stated. “I wrote down the thought of trying to find belonging by means of branding in some unspecified time in the future, and my coach latched onto that.”
At its core, Someplace Sure chronicles Baudenbacher’s exploration of concepts and ideas that he’s nonetheless working by means of himself by means of the very act of writing it. “Is every part round us an phantasm? Which model of us—is us? Are we hopelessly, endlessly f*cked?” His tone is authoritative, however it’s additionally clear that he’s on an ongoing journey of dissecting these subjects. “I don’t need to come throughout as having all of the solutions as a result of I’m simply grappling with issues as a lot as everyone. However on the identical time, I additionally know you could’t simply have a e-book filled with questions,” he instructed me. “My considering has already developed on among the concepts within the e-book because it was ‘completed.’”
Baudenbacher expertly undercuts big-picture concepts about society with a tone that’s typically humorous. He additionally will get playful with imagery all through, like a pretend film poster he designed to accompany an thought about human survival. “If you consider it too onerous or go tremendous educational, that’s a really existential web page. Can we get alongside lengthy sufficient on this planet to proceed our existence? However there’s sufficient darkish information on the market nowadays, so the intention was to make it mild and tongue-in-cheek.” These enjoyable visuals and the general witty tone add to the accessibility and approachability of the e-book, giving readers an entry level into subjects that may in any other case be alienating if too theoretically educational or intellectual.
Someplace Sure doesn’t shrink back from addressing the damaging facet of branding both, and the very actual repercussions of branding used for nefarious functions— far proper extremism and Nazi Germany propaganda are two examples that Baudenbacher names. “Branding tends to flatten complexity,” he stated. “In the end, all of this stuff and concepts have to get distilled right down to a logo. It’s supposed to speak a lot, so our discourse turns into very superficial. A model is the last word visible soundbite, or a visible Tweet. It’s very troublesome to have a discourse round advanced subjects after we’re all speaking on a visible floor degree.”
“One way or the other, hate and hateful concepts are a lot simpler to condense,” he continued, “like ‘Professional-Life,’ or ‘Make America Nice Once more’—they’re quite simple, branded concepts that fully get rid of the entire complexity beneath. It’s difficult for the extra liberal, progressive facet to compete with that as a result of options to a few of these issues are literally very, very, very advanced. The trajectory to simplify every part into soundbites, and 140 characters, and symbols, and logos isn’t serving to with a few of these extra advanced conversations that we have to have.”
In some ways, Baudenbacher is reconciling his gradual discovery of those truths together with his personal profession in branding. “It’s difficult,” he instructed me. “I like design and branding a lot, and I imagine in its energy so tremendously that to me, that outweighs the damaging features. I attempt to use these abilities and that energy extra for good. I don’t actually know what which means in observe— do coverage makers must have a branding professional on their groups to assist form progressive concepts?”
Baudenbacher maintains his perception that design consultants can use their information for good. “There are lots of locations the place we must be utilizing the instruments of branding,” he stated. “What will we need to obtain? How do we would like individuals to really feel and act a couple of particular subject? The transition from ‘World Warming’ to ‘Local weather Disaster’— one thing way more dire, to me— that’s a branding project. Language, after which the visible expression of that, is tremendous necessary. We will use the facility and instruments of this self-discipline to assist clear up issues which are greater than simply promoting extra stuff.”
Whereas a e-book felt like the proper approach for Baudenbacher to speak these concepts, he’s the primary to make clear that he’s a designer first, and never essentially a “educated” author who primarily writes for himself. “I like phrases, and I’ve at all times written,” he continued. “I believe writing is an under-appreciated a part of design, whether or not it’s writing a presentation, or speaking a narrative of a model, or a design strategy or whatnot. Writing has at all times been a part of the method.”
With Baudenbacher’s design background in thoughts, it’s not stunning that Someplace Sure isn’t your conventional e-book. In some ways, it defies style and has a dynamic mix of the written phrase and authentic imagery that interaction all through the e-book’s uniquely laid-out pages. “I trip between visuals and phrases,” Baudenbacher defined. “There was a top level view and paragraphs, however then I might begin combining them with pictures. Then I’d see the pictures and return once more— it was a round factor. I didn’t need this to be a dissertation. I actually needed it to be a fascinating mixture of visuals and phrases.”
This distinct construction makes for a singular expertise as a reader, aided by Baudenbacher’s accessible writing fashion. Whereas the concepts he addresses will be lofty and profound, his sentences are concise and clear. His writing isn’t dense or intimidating, neither in diction or structure. As a substitute of enormous, daunting blocks of textual content, concepts are introduced in just a few strains positioned all through a given web page. The damaging area feels simply as thought of because the phrases themselves, necessitating a slower tempo with which to interact with Baudenbacher’s ruminations. This spatial structure offers readers the literal area to suppose by means of these concepts, claims, and questions.
“There’s a multi-hierarchy approach of studying it with completely different layers of communication,” Baudenbacher stated on the e-book’s structure. “The concept was that even for those who simply learn the headlines, you get a tough, type of sketchy narrative. Then you might have the paragraphs that take you a bit of bit deeper, after which the visuals take you even deeper. Then there’s what I name the ‘shade commentary,’ which is the teeny, tiny sort on the backside of the pages. So there are a number of ranges to interact with.”
This theme of mixing excessive and low ideas can also be prolonged into numerous parts of the bodily design for Someplace Sure— even the paper alternative. “It’s a fairly low-quality paper, and I truly needed it to be even crappier paper— a type of newsprint, however the deep blacks printed all splotchy. I additionally needed it to be a softcover and black and white; I didn’t need it to be valuable.” This carried over into different features of the e-book’s inside design.
“With among the design, just like the handwritten stuff— the notes and underlines and scribbles— I needed to make it really feel prefer it’s a part of a dialog, or a part of a thought course of the place any person else has already gone by means of it and highlighted what they favored,” Baudenbacher defined. “So whereas among the subjects could also be fairly heavy, the best way they’re introduced on this crappy paper with enjoyable visuals type of brings these concepts down and balances it out.” On this approach, Someplace Sure practices precisely what it preaches: any resolution in regards to the presentation and efficiency of a subject is a type of branding, together with the best way this e-book has been put collectively. “Even the e-book itself is type of a model,” stated Baudenbacher. “It even has a brand on it.”
For those who’re keen to maintain questioning proper alongside Baudenbacher, Someplace Sure is obtainable for buy wherever books are bought. “I like the books that I maintain selecting up, thumbing by means of, placing down, after which selecting up once more,” he instructed me. “Books that get my mind getting into a unique path. That’s actually what I needed with this.”