Month: December 2016

What is Dark Branding… and are you it?

I coined the term, Dark Branding, to describe the realm of storytelling that is the antithesis of, and antidote to, light branding – which is where marketing is pretty much stuck at the moment (think the endless, cookie-cutter memes of ‘happiness’ and ‘gratefulness’, and content or brands that perpetuate the myth of perfect motherhood/bodies/interiors/diets etc etc etc).

While there will always need to be light AND dark (read up on Taoism for more on this), society’s current obsession with the light side of life – and the misguided idea that we should be working towards a Utopia – means that there is an unparalleled opportunity right now for genuinely dark brands, whether a person or a product, to cut through the forgettable mass and make a unforgettable mark.

But what is Dark Branding?

Dark Branding must be:
• Primal (example: Dita von Teese). Primal refers to the physical plane – your actual human body; all the messy blood, sweat and tears of it, the erotic and the enjoyable, the painful and the pleasurable. Light brands are often concerned with the spiritual realm, and the rejection of the physical.
• Provocative (example: Twin Peaks). That which is unusual, unapologetic, unique and utterly, enigmatically wondrous owns this space. Rather than simply ‘sex sells’, the truly provocative is something very, very hard to pin down.
• Powerful (example: Museum of Old and New Art, aka MONA). Something becomes powerful because it is bold, boldly goes where others don’t and is beholden to nothing. Something powerful cannot be ignored, and it therefore changes and challenges the world around it.

These three are the non-negotiables.

Dark Branding is also:
• Premium – because it is, by its very nature, a niche proposition
• Personal – ditto
• Peerless – ditto
• Perennial – ditto
• Polarising – ditto
• Un-PC – and therefore needed on our intellectually timid planet

Dark Branding is NOT:
• Simply sex or porn – it is more sophisticated and subtle than this
• Obsessed with death – this is an element or theme, naturally, but it is not the be all
• (Only) visually dark – a dark brand can be visually light, yet still have an undercurrent of darkness (think of one of the original masters of personal branding, Frida Kahlo)

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you have a personal or product-based brand that is not getting traction, or feels stale or off somehow, here are some questions for you…

This is an affliction. It comes from people being scared of their inherent darkness. They avoid making the hard decision to understand their own darkness and instead look around them at what’s trending – and simply copy the conventions of the day (this is why those insipid, sparkly gold, handwritten Instagram quotes abound). But if your true nature leans to the dark, then the closer you get to expressing this, the more your world will resonate with others (and with yourself).

This is less common – because it’s simply more challenging to be openly dark than it is openly light. Society is not so accepting of the dark at the moment. But, again, it’s about being yourself. A true light brand (not a contrived, copycat version) is a wonderful thing.

Personally, I have never tried to be light. I’ve always known it’s not me. (If you know of the Birthday Book, I am born on the Day of the Dark Pragmatist, which it’s eerily apt). I have researched, created and collected dark brands for more than 20 years – and I currently have two of my own. I have admittedly been guilty of toning down my darkness in the past. But experience has taught me one thing: if your brand turns you on, it will turn others on. If you are turned off by yourself, then others will also turn off from you. So the closer you are to your true self (whether you lean to the light or the dark), the more successful and happier you will be, both personally and professionally.

So, if you are a dark brand – be brave and go bloody be a dark brand!

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Bespoke Erotica

Imagine presenting your lover with a piece of erotic fiction (or non-fiction), featuring the two of you?

Forget diamonds, flowers, holidays, lingerie… For birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, there is NOTHING that tops this kind of present.

I have serious cred in the erotica space*. If you’ve read a sealed section in a women’s magazine, or a fiction in Playboy over the past 20 years, chances are, I wrote it. I currently work with women to help them rediscover and develop their Erotic ID, and I continually research, experiment and curate erotica.

I am very pleased to announce that I have a limited number of openings available for bespoke erotica commissions leading up to Christmas. I usually reserve this treat for my private clients, but I am feeling particularly loved-up this festive season, and want to spread the good will to all women and men.

How it works

We talk.

I find out what you like and what you want. You are only limited by your imagination.

I go away and write a personalised piece of quality erotica just for you (and illustrate it, if that’s what you desire).

You retain copyright and ownership of the writing and illustration, to do with it what you wish.

Price – POA.

Note: I am currently taking commissions for pieces 500-5000 words only. I will start accepting longer-form commissions again in the new year.

Email me on for a confidential discussion.

*Oh, so you want to know more?

I began reading, writing and drawing erotica when I was six years old – not long after devouring Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus (I’d run out of kids’ books). I became obsessed with the dark, mysterious, provocative, forbidden, dangerous nature of the world of erotica. I wanted to be Mata Hari when I grew up.

Fast forward decades and I have not lost my interest in the erotic. Alongside a dramatic career in high-end fashion magazines and illustrated books, I pursued erotica as a side career… always wondering how to make it the full-time gig.

I worked as an artist’s model, a burlesque dancer, a dominatrix, a commercial erotica writer… and my interest was not just applied, but also academic – I completed a fine arts/literature degree, majoring in curatorial studies and drawing and handing in a final thesis looking at the line between the naked and the nude in the context of the male gaze at Men’s Gallery, the strip club where I’d been working for years.

Now, I create erotic identities and images for women, specialising in the largely unexplored (yet incredibly powerful) territory of dark branding and building on my personal philosophy and professional practice of the Erotic ID™.

PS: If you are interested in the history and genre of erotica, I strongly encourage you to watch The Erotic Adventures of Anais Nin (UK documentary).

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