Welcome to Friday Fives, Vol. 245

The Working Assembly
5 min readFeb 3, 2023

This week we’re examining the new rules for social etiquette, picking apart the idea of the personal brand, and having a heart to heart about empathy in typography. We’re also looking ahead to next Wednesday, February 8th when we’re teaming up with Ladies, Wine & Design to host Leading Creatively in our Flatiron office. See you there!


The Problem with Personal Branding

Are you a brand, or are you a person? We know, this is a pretty deep question for a Friday, but we’ve been thinking about the wildly popular notion of the personal brand a lot this week. The phrase was coined in 1937 in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, back before social media turned the personal brand into a 24/7 pantomime. The thing about brands is that they’re unified fronts, with every appearance and message carefully considered. Brands react, evolve, and lure you in, but they’re an unfeeling collection of decisions with no moral compass. Basically, they’re everything a person isn’t. Actual people are messy and trying their best. We’re not a buttoned up, camera-ready persona that’s always ready to project perfection. Brands aren’t human. Humans aren’t brands. Maybe we should stop trying to reverse the roles.


Updating Unwritten Rules

We’re living in a time of unprecedented faux pas potential. The world, and the way in which we interact in it, have changed drastically since 2020. We desperately need an updated etiquette handbook so we can avoid making a fool of ourselves in cramped elevators with masked people, Slack channels with fun names, baby showers, regular showers, and company newsletters. Thankfully, there’s a new guide that catalogs the proper response to a myriad of hazardous social situations. In case you’re wondering, it states clearly that it’s a huge insult to not forward this newsletter to your friends and family. Just sayin’.


In Defense of Unoriginal

The design world is filled with tropes. Take the arrow, for example. It’s one of the simplest yet most-recognized symbols in logos, from Amazon and FedEx to Subway and Converse. So why are we breaking our backs coming up with unique designs? Tropes can be incredibly useful when tackling a rebrand or launching a new player in a congested category. For starters, they can help leverage an idea that is familiar when introducing an idea that’s new. They become a shared language of sorts, forming the building blocks of change by creating a solid foundation of universal understanding. In essence, a dash of familiarity is welcomed. Use it next time you’re hitting your head against the wall trying to rewrite the rulebook.


CPG Brands, Listen Up

Trend this, trend that. 2023 seems to have an endless array of forecasts to look forward to, and retail is no different. If pandemic woes and shifts over the past few years haven’t already led you to pull out every strand of hair from your head, then sit on your hands right now. Not to sound the alarm, but shifts are definitely happening. Harvey Ma, Senior Vice President of Retail at NielsenIQ, shared his thoughts on six transformative retail trends for the year ahead. And to no one’s surprise, Gen Z is reshaping the future of shopping (hint: engagement, engagement, engagement!). Learn how the past year’s turmoil, including global supply chain issues and financial polarization, are also leading to shifts in shopping.


Design a Little Empathy

We all know type has the power to create a new dialogue. But who is saying it and how it’s said is more important now than ever before. When looking ahead to the rest of 2023, how can designers do their part to inject greater awareness, greater empathy? Cursive’s loopy, lengthy history evokes a very humanistic feel (after all, most of our younger selves painstakingly learned it). Big players like Nike are taking note, implementing the nostalgic design in their latest Air Force 1 campaign. Speaking of school days, remember those block letter scribbles you’d decorate your notebooks with? They’re coming back and giving us a big itch to destroy our work desks right now. Anyway, this article is chock full of fascinating typography forecasts for 2023. Prepare to feel all the feels.

Sanzo gets recognized as one of the leading AAPI brands focused on dispelling stereotypes and introducing Asian flavors and traditions, while reinventing classics with modern branding and an emphasis on health.

Dieline Awards is where big ideas intersect with influential design, where impressive innovation meets design excellence. They welcome the risk takers, the creative thinkers, and the industry innovators to show us what the future of packaging can look like — and how better packaging will make a better planet. Become a part of Dieline history and elevate your work to a global design audience. Submit to Dieline Awards by March 7 before the competition closes. Learn more and enter here.

Finally, The Type Directors Club, the world’s leading typography organization and part of The One Club for Creativity, announces significant expansion in accepted work and a host of additional changes to its annual awards with the opening of TDC69 Annual Competition call for entries. Learn more and enter here.


The Working Assembly is an award-winning branding and creative agency.
Established in 2017, we collaborate with emerging and evolving companies for end-to-end brand building, including strategy and visual identity, print and digital design, content, and creative campaigns.
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The Working Assembly

NYC branding agency exploring the intersection of art, design, technology and culture. Partnering with emerging and evolving brands.