Editor's Letter — June 2021:

"Dynamic Branding"

Most recently, we’ve been firing on all cylinders (is this soon to be a dated reference as we go full electric?!), behind the scenes as we revise and revamp a few things. One topic that has been at the top of our mind for the last few years has been the current and future brand that is MAEKAN. Our self-deprecating humor has us laughing at the mid-2010s era of graphic design that MAEKAN fell into, we’re talking the whole Kinfolk/Cereal vibe. Early MAEKAN felt very much in this lane, call it P-cubed, pixel perfect presentation. This era was decidedly a stifling and challenging approach. You had to make things look minimal but not boring. The result was often a droning push towards communication and messaging.


MAEKAN had lofty ambitions of joining the big leagues of media and we needed matching branding for people to take us seriously… or not. Despite the fact we like to feign intelligence and use often misplaced big words (more Alex and Eugene, than Charis, Nate and the rest of the team), seriousness comes across as an inaccurate representation of us as people and how we want to communicate topics around us. It’s interesting that a MAEKAN rebranding is about getting a haircut to match the style we’re now opening up to. God, is that a bad reference? If this makes the final cut, then Charis, Nate and Scott have deemed it ok to keep in. But it seems that the biggest challenges around brands today is the balance between creating consistency while also having enough flexibility to explore new topics/areas of interest. The world has become fragmented and trends happen every day. It’s always as though our ability to react is a branding play. We’re not talking about jumping onto every trend, but rather giving ourselves to be influenced and swayed by movements we personally feel are important and integrating them into our brand in a cohesive way.


MAEKAN has always prided itself on this element of “humanism,” (please don’t remove this Charis, no word better describes what I mean than this!!!) and how we can showcase the wins, losses, vulnerabilities, and perspectives of the people and topics we cover. It seems that just as MAEKAN was created alongside the peak Instagram influencer moment of picturesque everything (sunsets, dinners, and experiences), we’ve now moved past that into a world that is perhaps aiming for a heavy dose of realism.


Not every brand has the chance to switch  things up, but we can fortunately do that in a way that suits our momentum. When you’re not making boat loads of money (which we’re not), it’s easier to change things up and try a new formula that might yield greater results. But it’s less about wholesale changes here. Rather it’s a continual redefining of the sandbox we build and play within. Our sandbox was fine in the past: it was square-ish. The new sandbox? It’s still TBD, but perhaps it’ll look polygonal with no clear, equal lengths (If you’d like to read my book on geometry, please email me directly).


I used to think that brands themselves should be unwavering and rarely change beyond periodic updates; I don’t subscribe to that anymore. Brands that can find a way to maintain your trust while evolving and changing with the times are perhaps the most interesting and resilient. Looking back, I wish we had taken ourselves less seriously, earlier, but it’s not too late is it?

Eugene Kan


More from