A-ffirmations: Personal Branding

Jun 28, 2024


Every year on my birthday I select a theme as a north star for personal development through the next year. I create a visual artifact associated with the theme. Some years it’s been as little as a desktop wallpaper image. Others, like this year, a complete rebrand.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve had an increased desire to make my personal space more enjoyable, which meant I needed a renovation of the places I spend the most time: my mind and my body. This sparked a renewed interest in discovering and reshaping what I believe about myself now into a more integrated future me.

During this discovery I read a lot. One book, Find Your Why by Simon Sinek, exposed a resonant theme with how I view the world—from the inside out. Simon’s core assertion is that we should center our life’s purpose not around what we do, but why we do it, internal versus external. My “Why?” is “To cultivate the curiosity of others so they can take inspired action”. Those who know me well can likely find an example of this in our interactions. Whether as a mentor, a friend, sibling, collaborator, or partner, I help others find and cultivate their passions through ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’. It’s about time I started applying this same curiosity to my own passions and dreams.

Limits Expand Creativity

Limits make for great creative work and challenging thinking. The greatest artists in the world find and play within or outside of the limits they deem necessary to express their creativity. The narrower the limits the more challenging or surprising the outcome. I struggle with creativity when I’m staring at a blank canvas, page, or screen. There are too many potential paths, and indecision holds me frozen. These 3 requirements gave me enough structure to limit me in a creatively expansive way.

  1. It must connect to my annual theme of Integration.

  2. It must have an aesthetic that inspires me.

  3. It must exemplify my “Why?”

Why and What If?

I started with creating a new desktop and phone wallpaper aligned to the theme, but that soon evolved into a rethinking of my whole brand. I’d designed my old logo back in college and it no longer represented me as fully. Plus I now had professional experience with brand strategy, so I applied the same process I’d done for the most successful brands I’d worked with to myself.

Strategy - My personal Why?

With the strategy completed, now I turned to the identity. I wanted to maintain the inverted A + V combo, but it needed a style update. I’ve been inspired recently by industrial design and materials, so I wanted the new logo to have the potential of being applied to products adjacent to more overstated visual elements. I also wanted the core of the brand to be typographic so the palette was updated to feature Signifier and The Future, both by Kris Sowersby of [Klim Type Foundry]( The color palette was also refreshed slightly. I kept the vermillion and non-repro blue, but beefed up the saturation a bit, and added a subtle palette of cooperative and contrasting grays.

Naturally there was scope creep. After I had finished the core identity, I did an annual theme logo, a logo for 2024, a new website, some phone and desktop wallpapers, illustrations, and a poster series.

But here I want to focus on the work I did for the 9 ‘A’ffirmations. A series of abstract illustrations giving visual expression to each of the 9 personal aspects.

9 Aspects

Why 9?

  • Mathematically interesting

  • Thematically relevant

    • Implies a cycle, completion but not finality

    • Balance & perfection

    • Month of my birth and the beginning of my new year cycle

    • I love the poetry of an ending being also a beginning

  • Visually beautiful and simple

All A's

What if I could only use words beginning with 'A'? It was a challenge in wordplay, I wanted to see if it was possible to capture the intent of my personality pillars with alliteration. This limitation forced curiosity to find a solution. And I made it work well. The attributes feel well-rounded and articulate me.

‘A’ffirmations - 9 personal aspects, qualities I want to embody

  1. Ardent

  2. Amiable

  3. Agile

  4. Aware

  5. Ambitious

  6. Attentive

  7. Adept

  8. Artful

  9. Attuned

Abstractions + Axioms

I wanted to return to the basics of graphic design so I imposed another limit: using only line, shape, and a basic color palette. Paired with each illustration is a quote or axiom that elucidates meaning or reminds me to be curious in some way for each aspect.