Drawing Wisdom from the ‘Weird’

Understanding the influence of weird on brands and the future

In a world where everything is mushrooming but nothing feels new, there is something very magnetic about being weird. Weirdness can be transformative for a brand, oftentimes unlocking new relationships with your audience, and today's weird brands are winning massively in ways you can't even see.

'Weird’ is a matter of duality. It is both authentic and in opposition, both familiar and alien. Weird things make us experience some of the biggest, strongest and most complex feelings we will ever feel in our lives, and a crop of new players have made weird their comfort zone. 

In this week’s article, Concept Bureau strategist Rebecca Johnson shows us how characters like Jasper The Doll, brands like Half Magic Beauty and Collina Strada, and trends like goblin mode have become the weird beacons of healing, creativity, self-acceptance and defiance against societal expectations. 

Weird isn’t just having a moment, it’s having an effect. In times of collective trauma and transformation, unorthodox expressions are more than just coping mechanisms. They’re vehicles for self-identity and healing. And if the last few years have done anything, they’ve pushed us to seek solace in unconventional places.

What Rebeca’s article really captures, however, is how weird is changing: what was once an uncomfortable feeling is now a stimulating, albeit complicated, salve. It was also a brand no-go zone, but that’s changing, too.

Authentically weird experiences - not just the ones that make you giggle with discomfort, but the ones that stop your breath - are high risk/ high reward opportunities for communities to deeply connect on the indescribable truths that can only be felt. 

Weird is powerful. It lets you glimpse into the emotions and beliefs that shape your audiences, and when it’s done right, captures a form of authentic connection that rarely comes any other way.

Who needs a hug?

Here's what we've been consuming.

We’re All Bad Neighbors Now (The New Republic): “For that is the real crux of the issue: Our definition of “personal space” is expanding, with dire political consequences. The ‘get off my lawn’ logic of a Clint Eastwood movie, the enshrined rights of the “homeowner,” and the cult of personal property have infiltrated even the most public of spaces: the sidewalk, the city bus, the grocery store parking lot.”

The Illusion of Moral Decline (Experimental History): “This paper was born out of spite. For my whole life, I’ve listened to people bemoan the demise of human goodness. ‘Used to be you could trust a man’s word,’ ‘Back in the day, you didn’t have to lock your doors at night,’ ‘People don’t care for one another anymore,’ etc. This drives me nuts, because people are often wrong about how the present differs from the past.”

Why is there such a thing as ‘true love’ but not ‘true grump’? (Psyche): "If ‘true emotions’ somehow reflect our soul or core selves, the new findings could further our understanding about what people mean when they talk about their ‘true self’. Previous work had suggested that people regard their true self as the version of them that is morally good. According to this view, your true self is the one who calls their mother back and picks up litter; if you steal or cheat on a test then you’re acting against your true self. But if true emotions reflect who you are deep down, as the new findings suggest, this would challenge the idea that being your true self is only about being moral."

Startups Prescribing Food as Medicine Gain Traction (Fit Insider): “While Big Food companies push unhealthy products and Big Pharma fast-tracks miracle weight loss drugs, embracing food as medicine can prevent, manage, and, in some cases, reverse chronic illnesses. [...] Prescribing nutritious meals instead of reactively treating diseases could shift healthcare spending to prevention while having an outsized impact on well-being. Making the process as easy as ordering takeout is a step in the right direction.”

Hot Streaks in Your Career Don’t Happen by Accident (The Atlantic): “In Wang’s most recent analysis, he found that artists and scientists tend to experiment with diverse styles or topics before their hot streak begins. This period of exploration is followed by a period of creatively productive focus. ‘Our data shows that people ought to explore a bunch of things at work, deliberate about the best fit for their skills, and then exploit what they’ve learned,’ Wang said. This precise sequence—exploration, followed by exploitation—was the single best predictor of the onset of a hot streak.”

The rise of voluntary celibacy: ‘Most of the sex I’ve had, I wish I hadn’t bothered’ (The Guardian): “While celibacy is for many a positive personal choice, it can also be viewed as the result of, or a reaction against, a messed-up sexual culture, just as some of the second wave feminists chose political lesbianism decades ago. Last year, the ‘femcel’, or ‘female involuntary celibate’, went mainstream. ‘They feel the same sense of “humiliation and exclusion” that “incels” do,’ as a piece in the Atlantic put it, ‘but they react to those feelings differently.’”

Sight Unseen

Quick hits of insight in socially acceptable places.

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Creative inspirations for the other side of your brain.

"The underlying cause of all problems is not perceiving from wholeness first."

- David Bohm

Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.