Falling In Love With Magazines and Branding, Again

Magazines and branding. 2 things I really enjoy in life.

In the magazine B, I like the deep dive into a brand, starting with the brand philosophy, and how they have gather a loyal following (mostly) through their values.

Readers get a 360 view of the brand – from the top guy (the founder if he/she is still at the helm), to the employees, to its fans, to the public’s perception.

The brands that I admire – Apple, APC and Muji amongst others – have one singular trait weaving through them.

Simplicity.

This simplicity approach is apparent in everything they do – from the design, to the communication, to the marketing. It’s their dedication to remain steadfast in their principles that made me a fan.

Simplicity is hard to achieve when we are surrounded by clutter these days. Some decisions are driven by trends. Some are made because they don’t want to lag behind. And some choices are taken because everyone else is doing it.

Which makes these brands even more admirable, because they stood out by not standing out.

Going into any of their stores restores tranquilly in my hectic lifestyle and cluttered head.

Electronic devices, fashion, lifestyle products. Looks like I pretty much got them all covered with these 3 brands.

The Audi Ad That Made Me Fall In Love With Advertising

Some 10 years back, I was a wide-eyed guy, listening to lecture amongst the sea of marketing students.

Growing up, I adore Nike. The best basketball players in my school, or those who aspire to be the best, wore a pair of Air Jordan. The jumpman logo gives us belief. I was forever drawn to the power of branding and advertising. They can alter our perception. And perception is reality.

In one of the many short videos my lecturer used to play, one particular advertisement by Audi stood out. Never mind that I couldn’t afford to own one. Didn’t matter that I don’t know about much about cars. Without even test driving it, I knew I’m gonna own one in the future. I wasn’t drawn to the vehicle, I was drawn to the brand.

That is the power of subliminal advertising. Great advertising doesn’t reflect conscious desires so much as stir latent ones and subtly nudging the person towards that direction.

This was the ad that made me fell in love with Audi.

Austin Mann’s iPhone 11 Pro Camera Review

Austin Mann’s take on iPhone’s camera is the review I most look forward to, year after year.

By now, it’s apparent that iPhone is no longer a phone primary.

The advancement of camera images has been amazing. Live photo is life-changing for me. Especially helpful when you’re photographing a kid that never stop moving.

This year, iPhone 11 brings us night mode. Comparing Pixel 3’s night shots against iPhone 11, I prefer the former, albeit slightly. But iPhone’s pictures captures more details and are less heavy-handed with the tuning of low light/ night shots.

While I enjoy the tactile experience of Fuji X100T, the convenience of a pocket camera is unbeatable.

And may iPhone continue to pave the way for even better experience and quality in the future.

Declining Sale Of Cameras, And Our Relationship With Photo Taking

Om Malik on the declining sale of camera, why this trend will continue, and our relationship with photo taking:

What we are doing is creating selfies, documenting moments with family, and snapping photos of food and latte art. We aren’t even trying to build a scrapbook of those images. It is all a stream — less for remembrance than for real-time sharing. In other words, we have changed our relationship with photography and photographs. It used to be that, photos served as a portal to our past. Now, we are moving so fast as we try to keep up in the age of infinitesimal attention spans. A minute, might as well be a month ago.

[…] People talk about printing photos, but very few people actually do. Most of our images are sitting in cloud accounts that sync with our smartphone cameras.

We snap every day moments with our phones because it’s the most convenient option. Food, receipt and just about anything we don’t want to be forgotten. These are momentary snapshots unlikely to be revisited often, not with tens of thousands of pictures already in our album.

We snap, share, take a fleeting look at them, and move on.

Film Camera

Why are we attracted to film cameras? Is it because pictures from digital cameras are so sterile and clean that they’re lack character? Or is it because we enjoy the approach and process of analogue cameras?

To me, I’m drawn to the imperfection of film. The little bit of haziness, the softness, the lush colors, the tone. They oozes that bit of charm where modern cameras couldn’t replicate. Film produces the kind of look and feel that trigger emotions. 

Load a roll, wind it, snap it and move on. You can’t playback to see what was taken. And finally when you received the set of developed film, you get taken back to those moments.

I’m firmly behind the resurgence of film. Yes, YouTube might be full of hippies showing off their Leica M6, but these hippies take pretty nice photos and I’m happy to watch them all. 

One may say presets and filters are all we need. VSCO is especially fantastic in this aspect and I certainly like them. But here’s the problem – people (I) get too caught up in post-processing to simulate the look and feel of film. Before we know it, it’s down a rabbit hole of filters and tweaking sliders. 

While some lament the lack of instantaneous feedback, people who have embraced film actually enjoy this delayed gratification. Send the negatives for processing and wait a week. The wait heightens anticipation; like a kid eager to open their Christmas gifts. Because you never know what you’re going to get with those shots, the moment of truth is always filled with excitement (and sometimes disappointment). 

Well, someday, I’ll try my hands on film. It’s ironic that as technology advances, we yawned to go back to the vintage stuffs of mechanical watches, film cameras and fixed gear bicycles.

Shiver

What sends a shiver down your spine? Is it staring death in the face? Is it facing your phobia?

My mother has always been awkward in signing papers. Given a choice, she’d rather get her thumb printed. That’s old school. But that’s how she is.

She was given an anaesthetic for a procedure in the hospital. She was visibly affected, but still in good spirit. When she was told to sign on the document, her hands trembled. The doctor said the medication may have caused her to shiver.

Deep down, I know she’s worried and scared and anxious about the result. Never one to seek treatment, such tests and procedure are foreign to her. She gave an awkward grin and said she couldn’t stop her hands from shivering. She could only complete a third of her intended signature before it became too much for her.

The doctor intervened, thankfully: “That’s enough, it will do.”

Ironically, it’s through these checkups in the clinic and hospitals that our relationships have strengthened.

I treasure our time together much more after I became a father. Being a parent isn’t just a lifestyle change. It’s a life changed. The perspective changes. You develop empathy and you communicate more coherently so a 3 year-old can understand.

You understand parenting is the hardest job in the world and it makes you appreciate your parents more.

And for me, the fear of losing my love ones make me shiver.

Advice For People Who Are Unemployed (from someone who’s unemployed)

Feeling down is inevitable. But don’t let get that negative emotion wash over you.

Jobs availability are out of your control. Jobs that are suitable for you may not be on the market. Similarly, when the vacancies does come, it may not be the right time for you to move.

But what you can control is keeping your chin up. I know it’s difficult. I’ve been through this several times to know how depressing it can get.

Get yourself a side job. This will help cover with expenses until you get hired. Don’t get a shit full time job. It will only go downhill from there. Get a part time job, anything to get you through this testing time. You need money coming in.

You may feel sorry for yourself for this plight. Get it out of your thinking ASAP. Start action.

Keep yourself occupied with activities. Try new stuffs. Don’t let the devil’s mind wander down the dark path.

Apply for jobs. Continue to do so with more vigour. If the opportunity to interview arrived, seize it. Be prepared. Impress the interviewer.

At the end of the interview. Forget about the outcome, because that’s something you can’t control either. There are plenty of candidates out there competing for the same vacancies as you. They want it as much as you.

There will be disappointments. Plenty of it. Don’t be disheartened.

Keep going. Believe that one day, you will get out of this slump.

Your family and friends have your back. They’re rooting for you.

And one day, you will be write a story like this, sharing your experiences and urging the fallen ones to get up and continue to fight.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

I once had a wise boss. He was a gentleman, firm but considered. He told us not to save on trivial things which would cost more in the future.

I totally agree on this, especially on things intended to use for a long time.

But there are also some things which I try to squeeze every last cent out of. Like skimping on car parking coupon.

This afternoon, I walked across the street to get the best milk tea in town after finding a nice parking lot. This is a hot spot where parking attendant would regularly inspect.

Yesterday, I almost had a summon if not for my wife, who asked me to check on the situation outside. Just as the parking attendant was about to issue the ticket, I hurried over and drove the car away. She was nice enough to spare me.

But not this time.

When I came back 10 minutes later, I found a ticket on my windscreen. $40. If I had put a coupon, it would only cost me $0.40. That’s a difference of 100 times.

For a stubborn person like me, I guess this is the time it really registered. Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish.

Sunday Bliss: Grilled Cheese Sandwich

After watching the legendary scene of grilled cheese sandwich in the movie Chef, I’m inspired to make one of my own.

In what’s like a follow-up to the movie, the mini series Chef Show (now streaming in Netflix) showcases Jon’s chemistry with his buddy Roy. It’s nice to see him getting his hands dirty and his willingness to just about try anything.

I’m also convinced Roy is the coolest chef, after the late Anthony Bourdain. As a celebrity chef, he remains grounded and speaks with honesty and zero fluff. His easy-going and laid-back nature are pretty rad. But when it comes to cooking, we can see his intensity coming through and he demands the very best.

Today, I made my very own grilled cheese sandwich. Sourdough bread, kraft, cheddar and emmental cheese, unsalted butter and olive oil. That’s it.

I’d say not bad for my first attempt. If I were to tweak anything, I’d just have 3 slices of cheeses instead of 6. That would be just nice.

Something To Succeed In

I was looking through my Day One journal and 2 years ago, I closed the entry by writing this:

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is someone special. I proposed to my wife in the cinema after watching the show “The theory of everything”. He was witty, intelligent, compassionate and funny, all the traits I inspired to have.

Life hasn’t gotten any easier now as compared to years back. But I know people around me have my back and I’m really grateful.

When life throws you a lemon, hopefully you don’t slip and never recover from there.