As a fresh graduate I’ll admit that the current world of work and how people pursue it completely baffles me. Click-bait articles on business-savvy websites declare all the ways we can work—mobile, global, and even multi-modal (say hello to portfolio careers). But with so many un-chartered roads ahead I’m thrilled yet terrified to discover all the possible ways I can pursue a career.
Fast forward to a balmy Wednesday afternoon, I’m just about to meet a certain Mr. Luke van O, Managing Director of Saffron Brand Consultants in Australia. My jittery nerves subside as we delve into an intriguing conversation, discussing interests that eventually reveal the significance of branding. I can sense the beaming smile of Wally Olins, father of branding theory, shine down on us as Luke explains how character and purpose in a brand can change the entire structure of a company.
Two months have passed and I am still in awe of the branding world every day. The increasing need for authenticity and purpose echoes in every industry—from the food we devour to the clothes we don—even social media has us obsessed with branding ourselves. On a personal level I discovered that brands were part of building my identity. I associated myself with names such as TED, Coursera and Qatar Foundation because I want to be associated with their values and character.
And now we come to Saffron—the golden nugget of my associated brands. I admire the culture of instant reception, communication and sharing of new ideas (echoing some TED values here). The brains behind this company are impressively global yet it feels like everyone comes from one place. The personal mentorship undertaken by Luke is also a reflection of the culture, and I will never forget how he has taken the time to explain and debate ideas with me.
I believe this culture extends to how Saffron cares for its clients: they meet their clients’ needs but will consistently go the extra mile to produce what’s best. In the words of highly regarded rapper T.I., “I don’t want no mediocre”—and Saffron certainly don’t do no mediocre. I can undeniably say that the work here has disrupted my life, capturing my attention with charm and challenging perspectives with honest brutality. The entrepreneurial zest and creativity that were lying dormant in me have suddenly been brought to life.
Looking ahead, it is an exciting prospect to play a part in breathing life and vitality into brands with creativity and strategic entrepreneurship. But I empathise with companies that have to adapt and situate themselves in the current tech zeitgeist to reach consumers. As consumers we mercilessly demand transparency because we want to know exactly how the brands reflect our own values.
So here’s to disrupting brands - creating authentic, powerful and meaningful businesses.
Here’s to being disrupted on a personal level - always growing and changing but staying genuine.
Here’s to the future - where a pinch of Saffron transforms.
Vesta Gheibi is an Australian-born, Singaporean-educated, ex-Qatari Iranian with an American accent who's fluent in Spanish and currently works as an intern at Saffron's new Australia office in Melbourne, supporting the delivery of brand strategy and generally adding some colour and panache. For all enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Vesta posing next to a painting of Wally Olins - The father of branding theory.
Artwork by James Brown.