Person or Brand?

2 07 2013

brandingI just read this article about Paula Deen. (Also this, which seems like a more measured and responsible take on the whole controversy than I am capable of.) I don’t have much to say about the Deen story–I’ve never been a fan and I don’t mourn the loss of her career. What really jumped out at me in the first article was the bit about Food Network Star, which, much like American Idol, Shark Tank, and a host of other shows, offers contestants the chance to be “a big star who makes a lot of money and is successfully transformed into a brand.”

This is the Faustian bargain being pushed throughout our consumerist, media-heavy culture. Stop being a person, start being a brand. This is why I have no patience for any of the manufactured stars of reality tv competitions. Brands are artificial, hence inherently false. Brands are calculated to make lots of money.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but every time the word “brand” is used for a concept larger than an actual logo, my skin crawls. All of us independent artists are supposed to make brands of ourselves, which to me seems like the opposite of making authentic art. Franchised fictional properties are brands, not characters. News outlets work harder to brand themselves then to report the news. Even our political parties are now brands. How are we supposed to ever have a real discussion about anything when everyone is busy targeting demographics?

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people. Before long they’ll probably rule that brands are people too. We’ll have brands electing brands, an entirely brand-driven economy, with the few remaining people toiling in the service of brands. At least there will be plenty of sugary soda.




2 responses

14 07 2013
T. Ellery Hodges

Every time I’ve interviewed for a promotion at work, I’m asked what I’m doing to “develop my brand.” I of course politely answer the question, but it really drives me up a wall. What bothers me is the interest in the presentation I am giving them about myself overshadowing my actual skill set, past performance, and accomplishments. I’m the type that does not takes anything someone tells me about themselves at face value, I’m too skeptical. What someone is wearing doesn’t give you insight into who they really are, it only give you insight into who they think they are.

18 07 2013

Wow…that sounds extremely aggravating. It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything but freelance/contract stuff– I had no idea that established workers within an organization could be expected to develop a personal brand in order to be promoted. Bogus!

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