Self Over Brand

March 15, 2018

I read somewhere recently that people put their faith in brands now over more traditional things.  Looking at my social media feeds and several news outlets this becomes very clear.  Not only do people get upset when they find out their favorite brands don’t fit their social expectations but they pay homage to brands for their personal successes.  Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the fact that brands are there for business but without the customer there is no brand.  Examining the idea of such things can be taboo but I like taboo so lets do this.

No brand ever made you lose weight or change your life by wearing their T-shirt.  YOU as the person did those things and while you may find internet inspiration in social media messages or other clever marketing it was never more than marketing.  The brand did nothing, in fact it did less than nothing.  YOU created, planned, and drove for the change you found.  The loss of self in branding is a wet dream to a marketing person.  The self is forgone for the brand thus funneling undying loyalty, money, and further market penetration back into the coffers of the brand.  Take it from someone in marketing those are goals people are getting bonuses for not just some fairy tale I made up.

Look behind the ad campaign and see what’s really behind the curtain.  The art in marketing is to make you believe you need something in most cases you don’t.  These feelings continue to grow until you no longer find the products presence in your life as optional.  If you don’t believe me think about how many people would view Facebook, the internet, or even their cell phone as a utility instead of a luxury.  People are more likely to return home if they forget their cell phone than any other item.  In fact, I assure you that you are fully capable of leading a wonderful fulfilling life without any of those things.  The feeling of utility is created by people in marketing and we get paid very well to do it.

Are they really who they create the illusion of for the brand?  This is rampant in the tacticool inspiration business model and even when people find out they get angry at those who point it out.  Check out the CEO of some of your favorite vet brands and I’ll put dollars down you won’t find even half are pipe swinging super-secret red team ninjas with master’s degrees in skull crushing and panty dropping.  It’s more likely you find people with mediocre careers behind them struggling to remain relevant in the tradition of a Navy SEAL stereotype mixed in with a healthy dose of misogyny.  

The gift of analysis is that you understand the lens you see through.  You don’t have to change your view of things but only be able to rationally understand why you feel the way you do.  When you understand the personal lens and its emotional second and third order effects you can adjust your analysis to account for personal bias.  It’s not always a bad bias but to ignore it is foolhardy.  In this case you forgo the credit you deserve and deposit the loyalty into a brand set up to collect your finances.  You deserve your loyalty above all else and I think we can all use a refresher when it comes to that. 

Find inspiration where you need to but ever discount your own value.  I hope that even our loyal base knows that while we hope to be along for the ride it’s their adventure and we hope it would happen without us if it had to.  You’re the adventure and nothing is more important than your self realization.

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