Man! I want a T-Shirt That says “Brand!”

I don’t mean to bore readers with the philosophical ruminations of a 2nd grader, but stay with me here awhile and tell me what you think.

To be brave vs cowardly, smart vs stupid, there has to be a real decision.  If one acts bravely just because they weren’t aware of the alternate cowardly options, they shouldn’t give themselves too much credit.  Likewise, if you do something smart only because you never thought of the stupid choice that someone else may have made, well, you don’t get a lot of credit for that either.

Today, for points to count, you have to have made a conscious discernment.

Um, writer, can you start discerning already.

On my mind: the attempt to find your values when the above virtues don’t cooperate. In other words, the end result of being cowardly/brave can be both smart/stupid, and vice versa. As much as we’d all love to be smart and brave all the time, the two can’t always associate.

You’re right! I was aware of this in second grade!

Unfortunately, to reach my point today, we’ll have to move up to middle school philosophy, and I’ll have to use the word brand.

Yes, B-R-A-N-D.  I think we all dislike this word to some degree.  We certainly hate applying it to ourselves, no matter how perfectly it may capture what we are describing.  It’s just a word of course, and it’s the associations one makes that decides their feeling about it.

You’re obviously going to tell us why it bugs you so you might as well get on with it.

My mind goes straight to commercial manipulation.  The superficial value something may gain due to its association with a brand name.

I hear “brand,” and I see a teenager shopping for shoes and buying the 100$ brand vs the 20$ unknown. I don’t want to get into the philosophy of values and whether not they are misguided. If you want the 100$ Nike’s I don’t judge (no seriously, I bought a pair the other day).  You’re likely an adult and can make your own damn decisions.   It’s seeing marketing indoctrinate the young to their brand that makes my skin crawl. (this paragraph has little to do with my eventual point but I didn’t want to edit it out… hope you enjoyed it)

A better example: a teenage boy spending hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars on a sound system for his car.  The boy believes this will make him more attractive/popular. Understanding the origin of the cultural stupidity connected to the boy’s conclusion is staggering.  Worse, understanding the deeper cultural stupidity that might make the boy’s strategy successful jumps straight over ‘staggering’ and lands right in depressing.

Note: for this exercise I will label something as culturally depressing if it would be embarrassing to have to explain to a technologically advanced alien species.

Okay I’m lost and bored. Seriously, if you don’t stay on topic Mr. T. Ellery, I’ll stop reading!

So stereo boy is sending out a signal about who he is with his stereo, branding himself, in a manner of speaking.  (Okay, Okay, there was that one time where that one kid actually loved music THAT much and somehow managed to overlook that incredibly loud music had the completely unexpected and unwanted side effect of drawing attention. That same kid also happened to be obliviously innocent to the possibility that having expensive things associates him with having money. He also didn’t think girls would like him more if he had money. I admit it, okay, Yes! there was that one time.)

He better be getting somewhere. I love my stereo, this guy can piss off.

In my experience, the only people who actually likes the word brand are marketers and business executives in charge of cooperate hiring. If you’ve made it through a recent job interview without being asked the cliché “what is your brand?” then I envy you.

Really? They phrase it that way? They couldn’t just ask you what you stand for?

Good point. I guess that is the subtle difference that we dislike right there though isn’t it?  Brand is what I tell the world I stand for.  It’s connection to reality is decided by me, the brander.  The corporate executive is aware of this, and sadly, they care more about the facade I’m going to put up then the reality.

Okay, so what does this have to do with all that smart bravery crap you made me read through?

Maybe being asked what your brand is rubs you the wrong way? Maybe it doesn’t.  If you are brave in your branding, then your brand and what you stand for are one in the same.  I want this blog and my novels to plainly show ‘what I stand for’.  I don’t want to re-brand myself to reach a wider demographic. I don’t want to change my R rated novel into something PG so I can sneak it past unsuspecting parents. I can’t stand the idea of manipulating anyone. I don’t want to go anywhere near the border between convincing vs manipulative marketing.  In other words, I always want the value to be real, no spin, and no sleight of hand.

Yet, it feels like the edge of a very stupid, although brave decision.  I’m well aware of my unpopular perspectives, and yet I feel dishonest when I leave them out.  It’s really the question of whether I am hunting a (1) larger audience of people I don’t ever offend, who might like what I have to say half of the time (2) small audience that really sees the world the same way I do.

Lately I’m seeing more value in the latter.  It’s not as black and white as the paragraph above.  Still, it’s been on my mind a lot lately.

Um… sounds like you knew the answer the whole time A-hole.  Thanks for wasting my time. I could have summed that crap you with “be true to yourself”… Dumbass.

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