Thinking

Rethinking the Flags of the World | A 100 Day Project

August 25, 2018

Khushbu Sanghi shares her experience on #The100DayProject. Khushbu is Lulu Raghavan’s mentee, from the Masters Branding programme at the School of Visual Arts, New York.

I had heard of the famous 100 days project by Michael Bierut, which was a part of my Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts, and it always made me feel anxious. I wondered how someone could work on a project with 100 different variations for 100 days every day! When I saw the range of projects that people had previously completed, I saw the passion, hard work and consistency they maintained; and that was mind-blowing! I also saw how some of the projects shaped to define their careers. And that became my inspiration.

The project was going to begin shortly, and I had to think of an idea that could be sustained for 100 days, every day in the midst of an already busy schedule. I wanted to do something I was incredibly passionate about.

The big idea

As an aspiring brand strategist, I seek to shape the future of branding, by challenging the status quo and defining what’s next. With this purpose in mind, I started thinking of ideas for my project and, voila! I thought to myself, why not revisit the flags of a hundred countries that have existed since the 18th century. I have taken my resources and identifiers that resonate with how flags would look today to give people a new sense of pride, and yet retain their identity. Being a passionate designer, I decided that this would be something that could keep me going and would be challenging. In addition to this, I already had 100 themes with one overarching idea. I named my project ‘Flags of the Future’.

The trick

Everyone who had earlier worked on this project gave me one consistent piece of advice– to survive this for 100 days, it is necessary to plan a project that will take up only one hour of your time every day. The timeframe had suddenly become more of a challenge than the idea itself.

Redesigning flags meant doing extensive research including learning about the respective country’s history as well as understanding their current geo-political situation. I knew this would be more than an hour’s work a day. A friend of mine- Caroline Peni, worked on 100 human biases and the drivers behind our unconscious behaviors that took her thirty minutes to an hour to execute on a daily basis. Another friend Cheryl Johnson, worked on interviewing 100 black people as she was inspired by how brands are still “Missing the mark” in terms of effectively reaching a diverse audience despite having resources like the internet and creatives from diverse backgrounds available. Posting her project took her less than an hour every day too.

My country

I decided to do some trial runs and time myself. Being from India, I had made up my mind that the first flag I would create will be my very own country. I knew its history, and culture. With a little bit of research, I could quickly dig out the current situation of the country. After a few sketches, I realized I had spent three hours working on just one flag that I was somewhat satisfied with

Two hours

I then took up two more countries and started doing my research. I had spent two hours until I was somewhat satisfied with my designs. During this time, I realized that there are a few key things I needed to know to redesign the flags. I narrowed them to six fundamental questions that could help me get an insight as to what was needed to design the future flag of the country.

One hour

Keeping these six critical questions in mind, I put together a document, where I could journal my research and list out all the 100 countries I really wanted to design flags for. With a few more countries, I got into the groove. I realized I was able to manage an average time of one hour per design.

It’s your game, make up your own rules

It is essential to know and understand that when you are the only player in your own game, then the rules are yours to make. I started identifying my tools, my methods, my process, my time and my place to work on the project every day. Once you have them fixed, you know you need to be dedicated.

The first like

It takes confidence and courage to start something you know you have to keep up for the next 100 days. It is like participating in a marathon, there are people you run along with and you know you have no choice but to finish it. The thrill and excitement of seeing the first like on your post is exhilarating. The likes, shares, and comments are always the constant motivation required to keep you going. You start building your fan base. When you start identifying some regular likers, then you know you are creating a community. It is the pack of people that relentlessly follow you every day. It slowly becomes a duty, your responsibility towards them.

Day 35, 58, 89

No two days have ever been the same. There were days when I was challenged by time, creativity or motivation. For Cheryl, not everyone was willing to share his/her experience given the fact that her project covered a very sensitive topic. These were the times when we needed grit, passion, and perseverance to keep moving forward. The secret is to embrace the process. point out that one of the distinctions between someone who succeeds and someone who is just spending a lot of time doing something, is this: practice must have purpose.

“Anything worthwhile takes time,” I learned this from Debbie Millman, our chairperson at SVA Masters in Branding program. Starting small and being a part of something big is an achievement in itself. The 100 days project gives us the right kind of structure to facilitate a rigorous creative process. So, don’t be afraid, don’t feel daunted, for resilience is the powering mechanism that draws your head up, moves you forward, and helps you persevere despite whatever obstacles you face along the way.

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