Dug through the older Soulection mixes and really enjoyed this one:
I loved listening to this TED Talk about music curators, record bin digging, DJs, and more. While music curators have always been around, I think there’s a resurgence in the appreciation of it.
For example, my favorite collective Soulection got invited to Coachella this year. I find the Lofi streaming culture to be just another form of music curation. Another favorite platform of mine is Noon Pacific. Noon Pacific brings you curated mixtapes with handpicked songs from LA, New York and London delivered weekly at noon (pacific time).
Of course, there’s also the almighty Spotify and Apple Music with their thousands of curated playlists generated by their teams, but also by their users, you and me.
I’m curious to see what the “music archaeologists” of the upcoming generation comes up with after the SoundCloud and typical streaming era.
On repeat all week! I’m a sucker for robust live albums. This was especially rewarding to listen to after watching the Netflix segment. It was inspiring to be reminded how soon she pulled this off after giving birth to twins. I also loved the parts about all the talented Black dancers, instrumentalists, and singers that were highlighted.
My favorite focus music is no doubt lo-fi! This one was a nice find. If you haven’t heard of the genre, give it a quick Google search. There’s an online community of lo-fi live streaming and the people (like me, I guess) who regularly tune into them.
Here’s some quotes from a New Yorker article on lo-fi humorously titled Against Chill: Apathetic Music to Make Spreadsheets To:
While I personally don’t listen to lo-fi for any other time except to do work on a computer, I’m sure there are many others who tune into it for other tasks. 💔 There was an observation in the article that I found a bit heartbreaking:
“Although I recognize the utility of listening to non-distracting study music, I nonetheless find it disheartening to see art being reconfigured, over and over again, as a tool for productivity—and then, when the work is finally done, as a tool for coming down from the work. It’s especially disconcerting to see the practice of active listening (which can be a creative act as well as a wildly pleasurable one) denigrated, dismissed, or ignored. Background music is hardly a new development, but, previously, these sorts of experiences were mostly relegated to elevators and waiting rooms; now the groundless consumption of music has become omnipresent. In a 2015 press release, Spotify declared itself “obsessed with figuring out how to bring music into every part of your life, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whatever your mood.” The idea of purposeful listening—which is to say, merely listening—is becoming increasingly discordant with the way that music is sold to us. (Anybody who has attended a live music concert in the last couple of years has already witnessed, firsthand, just how uncomfortable listening appears to make some people—so much so that frustrated musicians have started banning phones at shows.)”
My one note on this is that our modern day work environments almost leave little alternatives to turning to background music to be able to focus. I’ve seen a few articles lately that are saying open office spaces can’t be blamed for our lack of focus. The solutions these articles offer are often blanket statements saying to find other corners of your office to focus. Since the distraction is usually baked into the design of work spaces, I personally find solace in lo-fi and think that it actually helps me tune out the noise and be a better listener when I’m tuned out too.
Highlights is a new notes series where I extract my favorite insights from online articles. I provide a full view of my real highlights while reading the piece. In practice, it's the best way for me to digest learnings read on a screen.
Brand is more than meets the eye
Author: Emily Heyward
💥 Favorite Insights
"The difference of who prevails often boils down to brand."
"The sooner founders start thinking about brand, the more set up they’ll be for scalable success."
"Brand should be viewed as an organizing principle that guides everything a company does, internally and externally. A brand-led company is a company with clarity of purpose; a deep understanding of why it exists and why people should care."
"Start with a conversation around strategy."
"Think of the business strategy as the story in your pitch deck – what your business offers, what problem is it solving, why is this defensible, how will you grow. The business strategy is an important input to the brand strategy, but it’s not enough to build a brand on."
"The brand strategy, or positioning as it’s sometimes called, is the emotional concept that you want to stand for, beyond any single functional benefit. Brand strategy then informs the creation of the brand identity."
✍🏼 My Highlights
When we launched Red Antler 11 years ago, many questioned the value of branding for a pre-launch startup. The pervasive attitude was that startups should be “lean,” they should establish “product-market fit,” they should iterate and test and worry about branding later. That may have worked in an era when innovation alone was enough to get people’s attention, and when “new” was enough to get people to care. But when incredible user experience design is table stakes, and when direct-to-consumer choices are popping up in every category, You cannot expect that success will just come because you have a smart idea, or because you’re offering better value.
We believe that the sooner founders start thinking about brand, the more set up they’ll be for scalable success. And when we say brand, we aren’t just talking about logos, colors, and fonts. Those are important articulations of your brand, and they help tell an overall story. But brand should be viewed as an organizing principle that guides everything a company does, internally and externally. A brand-led company is a company with clarity of purpose; a deep understanding of why it exists and why people should care.
What does this look like in tangible terms? There’s so much jargon in our industry, and so much confusion around what it takes to build a brand, that I’ll try to break this down as simply as possible. When we first start working with a new client, before we even think about typefaces, we start with a conversation around strategy. This does not mean business strategy, which our founders have typically already developed. Think of the business strategy as the story in your pitch deck – what your business offers, what problem is it solving, why is this defensible, how will you grow. The business strategy is an important input to the brand strategy, but it’s not enough to build a brand on.
The brand strategy, or positioning as it’s sometimes called, is the emotional concept that you want to stand for, beyond any single functional benefit. To use everyone’s favorites as an example, consider how Nike doesn’t stand for shoes, it stands for performance. Or Apple isn’t about electronics, it’s about creativity. Those are examples of brand strategy, which then informs the creation of the brand identity.
To use the example of one of our clients, when Casper first came to us, they had their business strategy. They knew they were going to disrupt the traditional mattress category by moving the purchase process away from the mattress showroom, and creating a direct-to-consumer brand that offered far better value, greater convenience, and of course, universally appealing comfort.
They had dedicated their waking hours (and some sleepless ones) to developing a mattress that could ship in a box and that was undeniably comfortable, but they didn’t want to be a “mattress company,” they wanted to be a sleep company. We looked at the competition, who were all stuck in the world of very functional, overly technical, pseudo-scientific benefits and trademarked materials, and we asked ourselves, why do people even care about sleep? It’s not for the hours they spend in bed when ideally they’re not even conscious. It’s for how they feel when they wake up. This insight led us to the brand strategy that better sleep leads to a more interesting life.
The brand strategy then informs how a brand looks, feels, and behaves – in other words, the brand identity. Brand identity describes the visual and verbal world of a brand: its name, logo, typefaces, color palette, illustration styles, photography, and messaging tone of voice. With Casper, we made sure in the early days to always embrace the duality between sleep and wake, offering glimpses of how sleeping on a Casper unlocked a richer, fuller waking life. This created a surprising world that moved far away from the traditional category images of people sleeping soundly in a dimly lit room. But even more important than any isolated design decision is how a brand makes people feel. It’s the connection you form with consumers by consistently grounding yourself in what you can do to make their lives better.
Sometimes people look around at the brand landscape today and their impression is that everything looks the same. If we only focus on the parts we can see, it’s true that there are certain design best practices, as well as trends, that influence a prevalent look. Of course, our role as a brand company is to continue to push the envelope and invent what’s next. But I also believe that a conversation centered only around aesthetics is missing the real meaning of brand, which is to stand for something that resonates in people’s hearts and keeps them coming back again and again.”