It is worth mentioning that we have a social responsibility for the benefit of society and our individual lives to engage, be useful, and lead a meaningful life. To fulfill this obligation, two of the fundamental elements that reinforce our state of mind’s wellness and enrich our experience and life for others are cultivating our strengths powered by optimism.
“When you have come to the edge of all the light you have and step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of the two will happen to you, either you’ll find something solid to stand on or you’ll be taught how to fly!”
The point is that there is always an opposite to a condition. Problems – solutions, adversity – opportunity, and the list goes on. Having a healthier outlook in life means transcending stagnation and despair. Fine, disappointments, intense adversaries, or distressing conditions happen, what can we do? We can contemplate for hours, days, or even years blaming situations, people, or even ourselves for being cut off at the knee, drowning in bitterness and resentment, or disassociate with negative feelings and shoulder responsibility to get out of the dark pit.
Like Dory in “Finding Nemo,” befittingly remarked, “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.” Agreed, so how do we embark on shifting our frame of mind and capitalize on our possibilities?
Revisit your goals or set up a new set of goals and purpose – Knowing that your path towards them will not be on a straight line, and you might need to reorient yourself at times, but eventually, the winding road will take you to your intended aspirations.
Change your inner monologue, make sure that they support your goals, make a positive argument against a negative thought that slithers into your mind. A good practice is to look into your mind as a detached observer to search for what sets you apart from your true potential. Slice your line of thinking and actions into parts. Which one of these parts is more aligned with your abilities, intellect, and motives? The part that regularly criticizes, argues, is judgmental or the part that listens, learns, and knows that life is full of challenges and is tainted with difficulties still it has the nobility to rise above with an admirable footprint. As humans, we are capable of thriving under stress and problems. Why? Because our core being is built to support our transcendence from the stage of apprehension to what we want to be. Hence, stop using half-hearted vocabulary. Your words matter; conscious use of positive talk will bring out your inner courage to pursue goals.
Recognize that as an intelligent being, you can identify your shortcomings and build on your strengths – the idea is to be better than you. You can transform and face undesirable insightfully. Just as you go to the gym to attain your physical fitness goals, the same mentality can support your positive outlook. You start a fitness program with the belief that with discipline, practice, and determination, the plan of action will realize your resolution.
You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.
Work on having a problem-solving mind – rational thinking is about progress, well-being, and awareness that life has setbacks and difficulties; however, the knowledge gained through scientific findings, reason, and humanity will enhance our perspective to seek solutions and flourish.
Believe that progress is real. As humans, we have come a long way to improve our quality of life from life expectancy to human rights to increase leisure time, and the list goes on. Zoom in; personal growth is tangible. This belief is not fiction is a fact.
Keep in mind that stationary conditions to seek security while you have a fighter spirit will only lead to boredom and boredom in turn to spite and malice. To fight against the negative emotions, go forward in life, and fulfill the ethical duty to create a meaningful life and reach the best version of ourselves is the recommended motivation.
Maryam Meddin, the mastermind behind Clarus, a London-basedbranding & corporate communications consultancy, the archetype of setting direction and goals in defining and driving success for brands, is a woman with clarity. A skilled strategist, effective communicator with an uncompromising attitude towards authenticity, Maryam Meddin, and her team have created stand-out and award-winning brand communications for national and international clients. They have built an impressive portfolio for working with corporates, non-profits, governing bodies, and start-ups. Under her leadership, her client’s purpose has been brought to life with the utmost loyalty and openness.
With a law degree and a passion for human behavior, Maryam has guided her dynamic career to empowering others to succeed. Her insatiable appetite for knowledge, which led her to earn her Masters in Psychotherapy and Counselling, has let her deliver powerful, meaningful, and inspiring brand voice and corporate communications. As an executive with an altruistic point of view that reflects how she does business, Maryam Meddin tirelessly and remarkably engages in philanthropic activities and tends to be more demanding in putting others and clients first.
I had the opportunity to interview the boss lady and get some insights into the art of branding:
Jupilings: Please tell us about your professional background and the areas of interest-
MM: I studied law – which I think is quite a good grounding for life generally, as it provides you with certain practical skills such as analysis, interpretation of language, etc., – but when it came down to it, the career I really wanted was as an advertising copywriter. This was, in my view, the ultimate manifestation of strategic creativity.. style with substance.. a career in which your emotional intelligence and your humour are as relevant as your commercial sense. Unfortunately, I was underqualified to walk into a job in the creative department and overqualified to get a job in the post room and work my way up. Eventually, someone told me that they knew of a branding agency that was hiring on the account management side and I thought that this would be a good way for me to at least get my foot into the right sector. As it turned out, I fell in love with branding (also all about strategic creativity) and, thankfully, it loved me back! In 2001 I started my consultancy, Clarus, and I haven’t looked back ever since.
Jupilings: What is the difference between branding, advertising & marketing-
MM: It’s quite difficult to define categorically.. there are a lot of blurred lines. If I had to divide them up, I would say that marketing comprises your company’s overall plan for selling its product/services – knowing the target audience, what you need to do to reach them and persuade them to choose you over the competition and so on. Branding is really about your firm’s identity.. not just the logo and aesthetics but also what you stand for, your voice & tone, positioning, and what your customers’ experience of you/your product will be like. Advertising is the conduit for all that – the means through which you deliver the message about you/your product to your target market.
Jupilings: What does branding mean to you-
MM: For me, branding is the heart and soul of a business – a brand should be the manifestation of some serious naval gazing! What sort of organization are we? What do we want to stand for? What is our promise to our customers? When these sorts of decisions have been made, you can start to build your identity around them, and whilst brands can evolve and move with the times, they can’t be inconsistent. Any evolution should be a wholistic process which involves the customer in the journey, not one that catches them by surprise.
Customers build loyalty based on an internal filing system – they decide where you fit into their lives and they’ll open that folder whenever they need it. If you end up being in a different folder each time, or if every time they open the same folder, they find something different inside, they can’t really count on you, and it becomes difficult to build a mutual relationship. More importantly, it becomes difficult to say that you have a brand – in that sort of situation what you have is just a logo.
To give you an example: if you see a Starbucks in Karachi, you will already have preconceptions and expectations of what your experience is going to be, because of your past experiences and because that consistency is their promise to you, wherever you are in the world. The logo is merely the official stamp that says “you can expect coffee, served in a particular way and a visually familiar setting, here.” So, if you saw the Starbucks logo but then opened the door and found a load of blue and red tables, and the coffee was served in china cups, you would say “this is not Starbucks” regardless of the logo on the door.
That’s branding..not just a logo.
Jupilings: Why should people hire a branding expert-
MM: That’s a strange question… why should they hire an architect before they build their house? Whilst it might cost them more than doing it themselves, they may find that it looks better, functions better, makes the process more efficient, is ultimately more cost-effective than having to make up for mistakes halfway through, that the architect is likely to know a lot more about building a house than they do (thereby adding value through her expertise); and ultimately because the chances are the house will end up being safe, sustainable, functional and aesthetically aligned with their preferences.
All of that applies similarly to hiring a branding expert.
Jupilings: What are the 21st-century branding objectives vs. traditional branding-
MM: I think that people are increasingly caring not just about what a company does but how it does it. Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming central to every big organization’s identity, and they want to be seen to be decent, conscientious actors in their field. For example, it’s no longer enough that your basketball boots are top quality, you’ve also got to show that you’re not exploiting the environment or children from developing countries in the manufacturing process. (It’s not just the customers who care about these things, but those providing the loans for your growth, those accepting your sponsorship of their event, the brands willing to be associated with you and so on.) So, branding in the 21st century is as much about the producers as the product. That, I think, is the most important difference.
Jupilings: What is the ROI on branding campaigns in the 21st-century-
MM: “Branding campaign” is quite a broad term that can encapsulate so many different initiatives. It can be about brand awareness or brand re-building and so on, and so much of it actually consists of PR, with specific – often measurable – objectives.
To attempt an answer, however: I’m sure that there are a lot of outcomes that factor in technological engagement and digital metrics but I think that ultimately the principles of a successful branding campaign remain unchanged. Do people like your brand? Do they trust you? Do they want to keep their relationship with you alive? What’s the objective of the campaign?
Going back to what I said at the start of this interview about marketing: a sound marketing strategy plays a crucial role in every campaign, but particularly in those where the ROI is expected to be measurable.
For example, a startup providing dog-walking and pet care services may have budgeted $100,000 for a “branding campaign” and decides to spend that entire amount on TV advertising as it has the widest reach in terms of eyeballs. They may see that for an hour following each ad spot, visits to their website go up by 5000%. Is this an acceptable ROI?
The reality is that many dog-owners look for recommendations for pet care from their neighbours and friends, preferring to entrust their pet to a tried and tested independent local operator or individual rather than to a big, shiny company whose ad they saw on TV.
So, for $100,000 the client has ended up with an excellent creative TV ad (brief met); 5000 new visitors to their website (engagement goal met); and two new clients (ROI not met).
A sound marketing strategy based on knowing what influences customer behaviour would have resulted in a much cheaper, smaller and more personal local awareness campaign with a far higher conversion rate.
Jupilings: How do experience and engagement play an essential role in new measuring metrics-
MM: It really depends very much on your product, your target market and – of course – what counts as “engagement.” If you’re a media company, you probably want your audience to be using your app, or visiting your website, multiple times a day – if only to kill time. If you’re selling expensive handcrafted jewellery for women, you may be satisfied with a customer visiting your website twice a year, provided she spend a decent amount of time browsing and – from time to time – finds what she came for.
I think where digital engagement becomes more important is in customer retention and long-term sustainability. The more you permeate different aspects of your customer’s life, (sell them a sports shoe and then measure every mile they run) the more you’re building a mutual relationship, which equals brand loyalty.
Jupilings: What type of results are realistic for branding budget and time-
MM: This is really unanswerable. It depends on the brief, the objective, the agency and a multitude of other factors.
Three rules that you always follow in brand management:
Be authentic – it avoids disappointment.
Don’t claim anything you can’t prove.
Remember that a brand is made up of every part of your business: your product, your employees’ experience, your customer service, your values and many other things.. not just your logo.
What happens when you achieve to liberate your mind, when you weave memories, capture purely personal feelings and unfold your experiences in colour? Beyond doubt, beautiful imagery! Nothing is as fulfilling when you come to terms with your repressed unconscious. Latvian pop surrealist artist, Jana Brike is the epitome of this awareness. With Masters in the Art, she transforms taboos, despairs, pleasures, desires, and vulnerabilities by channeling the energies to discover her true self and create a sublime art. Unassumingly, she explores her life story and feelings, re-creates and allows us to re-live the stimulations.
Unapologetically, she has put aside manuals, instructions of social behaviors and codes of hierarchical society by refusing to accept conformity without examination. In spite of that, she believes in the naivety of human soul and purity of love in an unconventional manner. She touches on existential life question, embracing with harmony and awareness her transformation much like the cosmic ocean cocooning planets and stars which continually create new forms even if they are interdependently connected and travel in similar paths.
Jupilings: Jana Brike, tell us about yourself and how you got into art:
JB: Honestly, I’ve been an artist as long as I remember myself. I always was the kind of “beauty would save the world” person and knew I would do something creative. As a little child, I loved art exhibitions, ballet performances, theater, reading books, looking at book illustrations, watching movies and especially animations. It felt like these expressions transcend the human condition so beautifully. So I knew I would do something in that field. I disliked stage though and loved spending countless hours hatching and brewing something creative in the quietness of my room. So painting choice came naturally.
Jupilings: Who is your protagonist?
JB: It is always me, in a broader sense. My work is my visual poetic auto-biography through which I look at my experiences, at what it means to be human, I change these experiences and conditions into something meaningful, they become like stages of initiation into a broader and more profound self, for myself and hopefully others.
Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts:
JB: Personal truth and love. Lately, it is also something more fragile, like naked vulnerability and hope. I feel that the spear that destroys your armor and injures your hardened skin can itself break in the gentle softness of your open heart. That fierce gentleness and complete openness, I want to channel it into my work. Even if living like that in a world like ours is not yet always possible.
Jupilings: As an artist, what role and social responsibility you shoulder:
JB: I don’t think it differs much from the role and social responsibility of any human being – to experience the wonder of life to the best of your ability, in the way that expresses the best version of your self. Otherwise, the role differs from artist to artist, there as many forms of visual expression as there are individual personalities of artists out there. I personally always felt that role as some peculiar form of shamanism, for me the work always involves a deeply meditative state, certain transcendental energy, even a sense of ecstasy, specific sensing of and work with the future possibilities like in dream states and more. Work with collective archetypes, with collective daydreaming like in myths. In an as aware way as I currently can. I don’t know if it’s the same for other artists.
Jupilings: What narrative transpired in your latest collection and especially “two angels in the deep dark wood”:
JB: I feel my work less like a linear narrative and more like a piece of visual poetry. Those are stories very much about intimacy – towards your own body, your soul in the first place, and then between you and another. Also, about playfulness, joy, discovery of your true nature, the pleasure of being alive.
Jupilings: You create defiant art, exploring social and cultural pressures, how do you preserve the standards of propriety while discussing and weaving your visual narrative:
JB: I don’t think my characters defy public opinions or propriety; I feel more like they live as if there were no outside opinions or pressures to consider, as if one’s freedom and integrity and love was the only law to live by – maybe that is what gives this slightly utopian feel to my work. And I don’t think on much else while I paint, and definitely not the collective standards and expectations. If any rules guide me, it’s my personal sense of ethics and my own deeply felt experiences.
Jupilings: What is one undisclosed or mysterious piece of information about yourself, you would bravely share with your audience:
JB: All my important personal feelings, thoughts and human experiences are shared through my painting with no reserve and no holding back, truly. At the same time, to me, there is something numinous to the painting process, as if I transcend my trials and tribulations in an in-depth emotional sacral process while I paint, so the finished painting is a sort of personal icon to me. This process is mysterious, even to me, I know for sure that I emerge healed on the other end. The particulars of my life facts don’t matter.
Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you?
JB: Definitely, the first step is finding your own personal power, a broad sense of self-worth, self-love, self-respect, self-care that doesn’t require external validation. I honestly believe that the way you treat and think of yourself, the world will reflect that right back to you. How worthy of the love you consider yourself. And having this personal base foundation strong, the next step is to reach out and help the sisters, to share, support, encourage. The changes in the society do not star from outside and from the top as law as much as they grow from inside – you change yourself, spread it to the family, closest tribe, and then outwards, to the society. From the center of your heart outwards.
Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist?
JB: I think it is first a very honest work with yourself as a human, “brand name” comes much later; first, you need a very solid substance of who you truly are, something to attach that brand name to. You have to find yourself, to dare to be yourself and stay true to yourself, celebrating your uniqueness, your individual view of the world. To dare to speak about what is important to you personally, about what makes you burn, what is your bliss, what is your passion. Then comes very serious, very responsible and professional work ethic and very committed work on the necessary skillsets. And just after all that can you think of brand names. Of course, vice versa is possible, you can come up with some loud noise of a brand name to cover up the emptiness behind, and it would work for one day, but it wouldn’t give satisfaction, nor serve any worthwhile purpose with a capability to last.
Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:
JB: Self-doubt is also a kind of fear – that you may fail, that you won’t be good enough etc. – so it’s a question about fear.
To me, the answer is almost constant self-observation. I look at, and question every thought or emotion that rushes through me, and I question where it’s coming from, and what purpose does it serve. And in the very base, I feel there are two basic emotions, or energies – that of love, and that of fear (which further feeds anger, hate, etc.). So I question my motives, viewpoints, decisions, thoughts daily, asking myself where they come from and what I will choose today – love or fear. Every single day. All the time. I don’t think there is any other way. It’s a daily work, daily hygiene – like wash your dishes, make your bed, brush your teeth and also weed out your soul and mind and motivations and keep them clean.
Jupilings: The blockchain technology will remedy many issues linked to provenance, transparency, copyright, ownership, valuation, and authenticity in the Art Market. And indeed, it could make it easier for artists to get paid and get known. What are your thoughts about this technology which is about unconstrained collaboration, & promise of fair rewards for the artist? Would you consider using blockchain technology platform to reach global art enthusiasts?
JB: I haven’t investigated its potentials much beyond what is commonly known about new types of currencies, but I am excited about new possibilities and growth, and this new era we live in with new kinds of sharing and exchange. These are exciting times.
Jupilings: What are the problems in the Art Market do you want these platforms to solve?
A lot of issues are already being solved by just internet, like artists complete dependence on the establishment, necessity for some person who is a mediator between viewer and artist and on whose good grace and evaluation an artist depended – it’s nearly gone, you as an artist can find your public even if you don’t have a gallery or a magazine which would publish you. Also if you stand way out and beyond what the establishment considers a value. I think it’s a big gain all in all. More will be changing I expect, so it’s good to have one’s senses keen and alert.
Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why?
JB: I’d like to be able to fly; I think that would be a thrilling sensation.
Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor:
JB: Lead role in my life’s story is enough for me.
Jupilings: What is your life motto?
JB: Stay true to myself, live with an open heart, accept myself as I am – that’s the basic guideline. Although I don’t despair if some days I can’t manage this.
I have somewhat of an inner protest to things like verbal mottos; those tend to turn into self-imposed laws like a box you can’t get out of it. I live as I live, I am what I am, I have my inner compass that guides my path, and it doesn’t depend on pre-conceived mental constructs much.
The social projects with the flair of originality and innovation are realized in photography, accessories and fashion collections to challenge the uncertainties in our societies, to communicate the cultural pressures, to inspire and to help the collective to overcome their disabilities and inspire.
In an industry that attempts to make hearing aids as invisible as possible, the collaboration between the French trio, Kate Fichard, Flora Fixy and Julia Dessirier resulted in transforming the hearing aid device to a remarkable accessory. They merged creativity, elegance and practicality to produce a confident fashion statement.
Crafted in gold and rhodium-plated brass sprinkled with Swarovski crystals, they offer elegant ways to wear by fusing jewellery and technology, without compromising the function of the device.
Here are the winners in other categories:
Grand Prix of the Première Vision Jury with Rushemy Botter & Lisi Herrebrugh (Men’s Collection) Netherlands. The menswear collection spiced up with humour, pays tribute to the Caribbean fisherman, touches on cultural issues of gender fluidity, as well as causes and effects of environmental pollution.
Chloé Award to Marie-Eve Lecavalier (Women’s Collection) Canada. The Montreal born designer reflects ambition, endurance and purposefulness by deconstructing and distortion in her design ideas. In her collection, the altered reality is achieved by transforming leather appearance into a knitted structure.
Audience Award of the City of Hyères to Cécile Gray ,France. The accessories are made of steel wire, tinted in gold, and covered with a nylon sheath. Once woven, this gives a soft material, to be comfortable and to move with the person who wears them, and rigid, to work it in volume.