The most unspoken dilemma when working for a brand is rearranging your own vision. Before joining a company, you have an existing relationship with the brand. Much like getting acquainted with someone whose appearances caught your initial attention, the brand’s intention could diverge from your perception. Fully formulating these thoughts helps to prepare for future positions in leadership, as well as reconfigure your current approach.
Throughout my career, I met numerous designers who joined a company after years of idolising a brand’s work. They could recite past product, key influencers and milestone moments as intuitively as their native alphabet. Such perceptions, which fuse personal history with the brand’s crafted image, led them to work there in the first place.
The opportunity to learn more about a brand you highly regard invigorates us in those initial months. Insider information, new people and company processes keeps us busy, not yet attentive to the variances between expectation and reality. When the dating period ends, expectation and reality meet up, blooming opinions as well as questions. It took me years to formulate an effective approach toward resolving this brand vision dilemma.
The vision or larger direction for a brand depends on numerous factors. Company history, corporate culture, market state, competitors, leadership style, department interests and investors join the long list of possible influencers. In a way, there is no “right” vision, much like there is no “right” type of art. A brand can go in numerous directions and remain successful. Everyone in the company carries a unique relationship with the brand and ideas where it should go. We need to be mindful and flexible with our assessments, as they can either help or hinder our progress.
We all want to help and offer suggestions for improvements. Conversations around where the brand should go overall and at a team level are healthy outlets. Certain areas and processes can be molded by your beliefs, while others might lie beyond your reach. If the entire vision of a brand does not align with your own, consider a couple of points. Does your vision address multiple aspects of the brand? Could it be executed within the corporate culture? How would you take others on the journey around your vision?
Asking these questions can help us identify three things. These include what could be done now about it; what can be learned for future positions of leadership; and if there is further experience or knowledge needed to execute a vision, no matter what the size. When the opportunity arises, you want to be ready. We are all leaders within our current position, even if you are an intern. Some of us lead from the top, others the middle and many at the ground level. At each of these perspectives, we are preparing for another degree of leadership, which is why working through your vision versus a brand’s at all points of your career is important.
Opinions signal processing current situations with past experiences and future expectancies. When joining a brand, understanding our opinions can reconcile what we believed a brand to be and what it is. The big question after working through this is if you can live with the differences. When committing to a relationship or buying an apartment, you also make such choices. It can feel more impactful when addressing your work environment due to the time invested at any job; long-term affiliation with the brand and increased complexities from corporate culture. Wherever you go throughout your career such questions will arise. If you let these learning experiences pass with the wind, the lessons will be hard learned later.