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World Book Day 2013

Embracing anarchy - the making of a branding manifesto (of sorts)


“What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

You've got to find a niche. You've got to specialise. You've got to be absolutely clear about what you want to do, how you want to achieve it, and who you're going to do it for. Without all that, you're doomed to fail.


The sad thing is, even though my heart and mind screams that it's all bollocks, I still play along. I still try to define what I do and what I want to do, even though that could change on a daily basis. Sometimes on an hourly basis. Because, let's face it, that's what the experts say. That's what, I suppose, common sense dictates. But screw the experts, and screw common sense.

What if I told you I fancy launching my own line of soft drinks, then perhaps some condoms, then maybe - as I've just seen a plane flying past - my own airline? If I followed advice, I'd stick with just one of them, and I'd probably end up bored shitless. Thank god, then, that people like Richard Branson exist. He blows conventional wisdom to pieces, has a huge amount of fun doing so, makes tons of money while he's at it, then enjoys setting records in his balloons. And that's why he's one of my heroes.

It's also why I'm writing this. It may seem like a rant, but it's actually something I've been considering for many years.

I was discussing this, to a fashion, with my business partner today. We both noted that three things have remained constant in our lives: words, learning, and art. From those three, a multitude of possibilities present themselves. From words come languages, books, magazines, poems, music, stories, and much, much more. From learning comes every conceivable academic subject, cultural awareness, personal growth and so much more. From art comes design, architecture...and books, poems, music...learning. Without much thought, it all becomes interrelated.

Because life's like that. It may sound artsy-fartsy, but so be it. Setting a narrow definition for who you are and what you want to achieve could lead to you being successful in a niche area, which is great. But it could also close you off from tons of other incredibly rewarding opportunities, experiences and possibilities.

And I see it this way: my life has already been random within those three areas, and it's been pretty bloody good, all things considered.

I studied law, got involved in education, then meandered into design and branding, got into writing and editing, and have dipped my toes into other areas. I know when what I'm doing is crap, because I quickly notice my heart's not in it. Equally, albeit slightly sheepishly, I know when what I'm doing is actually pretty good - and not just because people pay me for it.

I'm sick of trying to think of a strap line for this website. I'm sick of trying to say what I do. I'm sick of trying to define who I want to work with. I'm sick of it because that's not the kind of person I am. I know what I want to do - very clearly - its just that I don't actually think there's a title for it. If there was, it'd probably read something like: writerdesignerillustratorrunnerbrandereditorexplorerteachermusicianstudenttravellerreaderthinkerdreamer (and more)

Maybe that's the strap line I should use after all.

You see, I was thinking of closing storm from the east, and I think that would be a shame. It's been with me since 2006 and I'm rather fond of it. People read it. Every time I've tried to define it, create more of a niche, or put labels on it, I've ended up quickly backtracking and feeling fake.

So from now on I'm going to embrace the anarchistic bent in me that doesn't like to set limits or definitions. This site will now be about what I feel like talking about on any given day. Some themes will stay constant, some may be fleeting. It may grow to be something lovely, or it may wither and die. I may expand this manifesto into something more, and I may not.

The only thing I intend to embrace is choice. Because without choice, what do we have? You don't have to define yourself if you don't want to. Let what you do speak for itself.


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AWESOME post, Richard! One of the best, most thought-provoking, things I've read in a long time.

More of the same, please!

It doesn't sound like a rant to me, Richard. Your advice has helped me immensely and you always came across as passionate and thoughtful while we were working together, whether we were discussing grammar or design.

My writing and (eventual) website are far better thanks to your help.

Graeme - Thank you, I appreciate it.

Hector - Thank you, that's very kind of you. It's been a pleasure working with you!

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