By Sophie Becker
I don’t have a type
Today a good friend asked me a question that completely flawed me:
“If you were a typeface, what would you be?”
Like so many occurrences in my daily life, this threw me into a spiral of existential crisis and deep despair.
Who am I? What represents my essence in a single typeface?
Whilst every bone in my body ached to blurt out the obvious “Comic Sans”, I resisted. I mean, I can justify it. Immature, unsophisticated and a complete joke. But that’s the lazy answer. As we all know, it’s far easier to make people laugh than to make them cry.
I’m so predictable – maybe I should just give up and become Helvetica, I thought. I carried on analysing but to no avail. The question was left unanswered.
Am I a Serif or Sans? Script or Blackletter? Decorative or Mono? Perhaps even hand drawn? How should I be spaced? Am I Extra-Light or Bold? My mind raced the entire tube journey home.
This type of question has reared its ugly head many times during these first five weeks of SCA. And for good reason.
First, there was the saga with the mug. How could I paint my own personal brand onto a blank mug? A simple task, you’d think. All I had to do was do anything and it would have been right. But instead I sat and agonised for hours. At one point I thought I’d use the M&Ms I’d bought in an attempt to make friends with my new classmates to decide the design. Alas, even M&Ms couldn’t save me. It wasn’t that I thought I was too complex to be distilled into a singular mug design. It was just that I didn’t have the confidence to say ‘this is me”. In the end, Lauren had to decide on my mug alter ego.
I thought this was fitting. My identity could be “indecisive”. But indecision isn’t an identity, it’s symptomatic of a lack of one.
The same thing happened when we had to choose strap lines for ourselves. After complaining obnoxiously for ten minutes that I had no idea who I was, I made Tom and Jacob choose mine.
That was even lazier than picking Comic Sans. Uncomfortable as these tasks might be to me, they are integral if we want to become effective creatives. We have to keep asking ourselves these questions until we can answer with complete conviction – until our voice is distinctive and our character strong.
Identity is everything. A strong sense of identity is synonymous with confidence. It’s grounding. It gives us the ability to adapt to change. If I can’t get my own spot on – how can I expect to distinguish an intangible brand voice? In the world of advertising, a lack of identity is death. No one wants to buy from a brand too afraid to boldly state what they stand for. No one wants to invest in a company that blends into the noise for fear of making a distinctive decision.
Successful creatives don’t have to be extroverts but they have to be confident in their sense of self. While I know I possess a strong identity, I struggle to confidently define and project it when it comes to ‘crunch time’. I’m determined to change that this year. I’m determined to find my ‘voice’ because, professionally, it’s quite literally a matter or life and death.
I always say I don’t have a type. But I do. I just need to find it.
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