Incorporate darkness into your brand

Imagery is incredibly important for marketing because it is processed faster and remembered better than text

I haven’t put up a photo in a while. So, I decided to take a photo for this post.

I hate taking photos so much that I have to bribe myself to do it. I am probably above average at outsmarting myself. As you can see, I managed to coax a genuine smile out of myself by putting a mini chocolate cake in my left hand while taking the photo.

I had to edit the photo and make it black and white because I originally came out a color that can only be described as marigold. I mean, I am Asian, but no one is this color in real life:

This kind of stuff happens to me all the time in photos. Whatever, I try to have a sense of humor about it, and stuff in general. I freaking love comedy, and I think it is a virtuous and generous activity.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dealt with darkness on my own because I worry about others. I tried to go to therapists and it didn’t work because I found myself trying to entertain them and solve their problems, and then they told me that it didn’t look like I need therapy.

I often fall into the trap of trying to be happy always, because I know that emotions are contagious. Which means that Europeans probably think I am just exhibiting the typical sunniness of an American. It is common for Europeans to criticize the cheerful optimism of Americans. Their perspective is like, DUH, life is hard, why are you pretending like it’s not?

Fine. I’m a little cagey about my darkness, but I’m trying to be less so. The Europeans probably are on to something when they view our cheeriness with skepticism. Perhaps European realism helps explain the popularity of Swedish pop. 

Swedish songwriters dominate American pop charts by writing the smash hits performed by the likes of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and more. Swedish songwriter Tove Lo describes the nation's pop as having specific characteristics, "clear but simple lyrics... a lot about the melody, and also having a little bit of melancholy or a darker sense to it, to not make it too sugary or too bubblegum." The New Yorker pithily boils this down further to, "Three parts formula, one part character.”

I think that the concept of the Swedish hitmaker formula is applicable to brands. Clear, simple, and enjoyable, with a touch of darkness for realism. It is a winning formula because a brand that is not completely sunny rings more true.

What is the balance of lightness and darkness in your brand?