Ever feel like the stuff you own ends up owning you, instead? Ben Davis, the founder of JoinLess, can empathize. As the brains behind the “world’s first open source brand,” Davis wants to create a new symbol-led movement, like the (RED) campaign, “but better,” he tells Ecouterre. Unlike other brands, which get litigious over the unauthorized use of their logos, JoinLess wants you to slap its trademark “(<)” on anything—and everything—to remind you that less is more. We sat down with the man himself to learn more about his anti-brand, what it stands for, and why it’s poised to become the peace sign for a new generation.
THE BEAUTY OF LESS
For many of us, having “stuff” and going out and buying “stuff” is as natural as eating or breathing. Can you explain how JoinLess seeks to change all that?
JoinLess celebrates the long-term emotional well-being associated with leading a sustainable life rather than the momentary emotional rush and subsequent crash associated with shopping and overconsumption. The (<) brand represents a true tribe: people connected around a central organizing belief. It’s like a peace sign, but for a new generation grappling with sustainability. We don’t want your money. We want your help in fomenting a movement. We envision a brand in which every item—like every one of us—is unique. Corporations have nailed that art of mass production. The (<) brand is unleashing the art of “grass-production.”
The (<) brand represents a true tribe: people connected around a central organizing belief.
The JoinLess video highlights the phrase “sometimes the things we own end up owning us.” Can you explain what that means?
I love the expression “the trappings of wealth.” We become possessed by our possessions. We go into debt to acquire things and then worry about their safety and upkeep more than we do the people around us.
Did you ever feel at any point in your own life that your things owned you?
Why are people so consumed with their possessions?
Buying things provides a rush of happiness that quickly fades. It’s that rush we are addicted to. The excess of things in our lives are sad reminders of our addiction to momentary happiness.