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Is branding losing touch with reality?

Five Base Design experts share their personal predictions and aspirations for the branding sector in 2024. A common theme emerges from their responses: a genuine desire to reconnect with the real world.

By Min Lew, Coline Leclere, Caroline Cox, Ji Park and Juliette Mauler.


By Min Lew, Partner, Executive Creative Director & Managing Director

I am guilty.

I’m guilty of looking to hire “the best.” We draw wickedly talented, wildly imaginative, and purposefully determined people from countries around the globe. They’re wonderfully varied in race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Here’s the issue. Standards for “the best” are informed by design canons invented by specific cultures. They’re more singular than plural, more established than novel, and more definitive than inquisitive. Also, the talented people we attract often hail from the deep-but-defined pool of the most elite branding firms and design schools in the world. It’s a tried-and-true formula that has served us (and virtually every firm of our kind) well for over a decade.

But we can do better.

Because, as I reflect on the wide array of clients we’re currently working with, I can say with certainty that every single one of them is fighting hard to be responsive to this ever-shifting cultural landscape in order to stake their claim to leadership. Relevance, expansiveness, and the confidence to evolve matter more now than ever.

The same should be said for the makeup of Base.

Say goodbye to recruitment-as-usual and hello to the expanded talent playbook. Expand what it means to be “credentialed.” Expand the who and where we seek recruits. Expand to create more surprising and adaptable future visions for the brands we serve.

My wish for 2024 is for Base to possess boundless talent.


By Coline Leclère, Strategy Director

I love the internet. Peak over my shoulder at my desk, and there’s a high chance you’ll find my wildly-unchecked ADHD brain bouncing happily from one tab to the other, hoarding content and falling into rabbit holes. The internet is an incredible tool. It helps us accrue knowledge, express ourselves, and connect with others. It’s also increasingly turning us into lab rats, obsessively tapping levers to binge on pellets of social and intellectual stimulation. Not ideal.

The creative industry operates on the prevailing belief that staying up to date is crucial for relevance. I’ve come to believe the opposite: being out of the loop shapes me into a better creative. In a fast-moving culture that demands an always-on mindset, I have recently found enormous power and liberation in freeing myself from the pressure to tune in and keep up.

Tuning out is helping me reclaim my ability to contemplate, reflect and connect the fragments that will eventually – hopefully – turn into unexpected ideas. As American physicist Adam Frank argued: “there can be no experience of the world without the experiencer. Before anyone can make theories, get data or have ideas about the world, there must be the raw presence of being-in-the-world.”

As we move into this new year, I’m forcing myself to be in the world. I’m deliberately carving out time and space to mute the noise, close the tabs, delete the apps, sit around and do nothing. The first half of “doing nothing” consists in disengaging from the attention economy; the other half consists in reengaging with the actual world around me.

So here’s to a year of resisting the urge to reach for my phone during moments of stillness. Here’s to giving my senses a break and cultivating moments to think, reflect and put my overstimulated scatterbrain to rest, so it can continue to surprise me.


By Caroline Cox, Partner & Creative Director

In 2024, I believe the focus for marketers will shift decidedly towards building a robust brand, underscored by strategic marketing and authentic storytelling. This pivot will mark a departure from the transient allure of social media likes by recognizing their superficial nature and incompatibility with building an enduring business legacy and achieving cultural impact.

Performance marketing will remain a valuable component of the marketing mix, but will be repositioned to complement brand-centric strategies rather than serve as their foundation. In a landscape teeming with fleeting digital content, the brands destined to thrive will be those who embed their purpose, story, and values into every facet of their existence, from product innovation and customer experience to every marketing touchpoint.

As the economic outlook remains uncertain and consumer attention spans wane, marketers will be challenged to release their anxiety over engagement and invest in initiatives that resonate deeply with their audience, foster long-term loyalty and engagement, and endure well beyond a swipe. Doing so will ensure their brand not only survives but flourishes.

I say “Out with likes, in with legacy”.


By Ji Park, Digital Designer

"I see the mycelium as the Earth's natural Internet," says mycologist Paul Stamets. Mycelium, the intricate root-like network of fungi—a wide web of threads—connects and shares everything, much like our digital world.

Last year marked a milestone in the software community, with the largest number of first-time open-source contributors on GitHub. This year, I'm anticipating a continued surge in community-driven collaboration in tech. Open-source refers to software whose source code is publicly accessible, allowing anyone to view, use, modify, and distribute it freely at no cost. In 2014, Tesla made all its patents open-source. Not as a radical move, but as a continuation of the open-source practice, encouraged and ingrained in the tech community. Open-source spirit lies in fostering communal and collective growth.

Mycelium network is a shared economy, one that thrives not on greed but on nurture. It distributes and shares resources across its entire network. Making sure its neighbors are well-fed with water and food so they can flourish together. A poetic vision and a promise for the future of open-source. May this year be full of shared wisdom and cooperative cultivation, much like an interdependent and ever-expanding fungal network.


By Juliette Mauler, Senior Designer

“Wabi-Sabi is a philosophy that finds beauty in the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s about accepting the imperfections and transient nature of life.”

With the democratization of AI, we're increasingly slipping into a world in which it's hard to tell the real from the fake. Whether it's fake news, deep fakes, filters or mockups, we're constantly modifying reality to suit new standards. Wabi-Sabi, rooted in Japanese aesthetics and philosophy, embraces imperfection, impermanence, and the beauty of the natural world. It appreciates the inherent flaws, irregularities, and asymmetries that emerge over time. Applied to our visual world, this philosophy makes us reevaluate our relationship with beauty and perfection in contrast to a more human and authentic one:

  • Encourages a connection with the human experience, fostering an emotional response to the imperfect. It invites contemplation and reflection.
  • Flaws contribute to the uniqueness and authenticity of an object or experience.
  • Draws inspiration from nature, valuing organic forms and materials.
  • It recognizes the beauty in the natural aging process and the cycles of life. Reflecting a timeless philosophy that has endured for centuries.
  • Aligns with sustainable practices by appreciating the longevity of materials and objects, reducing waste through acceptance of imperfections.

AI will be everywhere, and we're already used to the "perfect" aesthetic it produces. Even in the world of branding, where humans are still expected to design, we tend to resemble this perfect world created by AI. No more randomness or accidents, projects and agencies look the same and struggle to find their way while appealing to their audience. I think a lot of people see this and are beginning to feel a weariness towards creativity. How can we change, how can we restore interest in the substance of our creation? How can we avoid following trends and go our own way? A world without imperfections doesn't represent reality and doesn't add value to our lives. If we put forward everything that differentiates us from AI: diversity, collaboration, questioning, adaptation, debate, emotion, compromise, mistakes, perhaps we'll be able to rediscover creativity and create desirable working environments. Adding diversity to the creative team? Rediscovering the tactile dimension of the real world in the digital world? Highlighting the raw, unfinished aspect of an image?