As a musician-turned-creative-writer, I’d been certain that no one in a professional setting would ever deem my warped metaphor-ridden perspective worthy. As a result, I usually try to sound matter-of-fact – almost robotic – in job applications, while also using predictable keywords that list my supposed “strengths,” which both humanises and dehumanises my efforts. As in social situations, I tend to inspect what everyone else does and pretend I operate by the same standards as those around me.
When I found out about the opportunity to apply for Imagen’s Insight Day in early 2020, where I would be expected to share my thoughts on various companies’ branding choices, I planned a similar strategy at first. In the application, Imagen asked us to pick a brand and write about why it’s important to us, so I spent quite a while researching brands and trying to decipher which one would “sell” the most: to find something that is exemplary but not obvious enough for everyone else to write about it.
I grew weary pretty soon, and decided I wasn’t good at selling or marketing, or whatever it is they wanted me to do, so I might as well give up. Since I lost all hope of being chosen for the job, I ended up picking a brand that truly mattered to me and letting my writing run freely. I kept wondering: Does that even count as a brand? Can I use regular, humane language? Can I give my honest opinion? I was certain the answer to all of those questions was no, yet I sent the application, along with my incoherent personal opinion. What was the worst that could have happened? They would say no, and I’d move on with my life, simple as that.
To my surprise, they accepted me. I attended Imagen’s Insight Day, which turned out to be another surprise – I realised that analysing marketing strategies while using my own mind and language was actually…quite fun. No one expected me to use specialised vocabulary or flaunt a business-oriented mindset. I left the meeting feeling strangely good about myself; I seemed to have found a link between the workings of my own mind and the the scary “real-world” side of things.
After that experience, I took advantage of most other opportunities Imagen had offered. Working for the company is freelance, on-and-off: if they are currently working with a client or a brand, then they let you know of a new opportunity arising. For the next few months after the Insight Day, I shared my opinions on the branding of Stella McCartney – although I don’t know or care much about fashion, which I must have made abundantly clear as I shared my opinion – as well as the Subway sandwich brand. I wasn’t trying to be particularly smart or knowledgeable about the topic, I simply let my mind roam freely. It turned out I actually did have opinions where I hadn’t known I held them in the first place.
It’s all a matter of how one perceives things, I suppose, and it applies to the area of marketing as well. Trying to sell and to say something are not as different as one might think, and if I decide to look upon a company’s branding through the lens of the latter, I might spot certain things I would have missed if I focused solely on the former, transactional part of it. By looking at branding strategies almost as literary texts, and examining their between-the-lines and hidden meanings, I’d grown more confident about my own perspective of things outside the realm of my creative endeavours.
Becoming a consultant for Imagen can help people of various modes and trains of thought. If you’re like me, and you desperately want to make your voice heard but you tend to think in abstractions and symbolisms, working for Imagen would “force” you to bring your reflections and theories down to earth, while still expecting you to use your true voice. If you’re, on the contrary, afraid of expression, working for Imagen can challenge you to listen to your intuition and to state exactly what you think.
As their slogan states, they want gen z’s brutally honest opinions – who says honesty cannot be creative or personal? On the contrary, it asks for it; and speaking from my experience working with Imagen, they fully support that.