In business circles, in almost all sectors, it’s become common to personify the concept of brand. We now ascribe branding terms not only to inanimate products and services, but to living, breathing people, writes Kendall Allen for MediaPost.
This brand-speak comes up in reference to the importance of caretaking one’s own celebrity; representing oneself well on his or her career path; or simply establishing lasting legacy around one’s accomplishments. Many people I know find this ridiculous, cheesy misappropriation. Even when talking about the mission, personality and charter of a brand, these folks would say the term is only appropriate when referring to products, services or corporations. Never people.
I became fascinated with this “what’s-allowed-to-be-a-brand” question over the past week – and especially over the weekend. Within a very short period of time, we have had three forced, globally attended conversations on brand:
– What does Donald Trump’s brand represent to America? How the hell did this even happen?
– What does the marriage of Will and Kate mean to the brand of the monarchy?
– What does Osama bin Laden’s death mean to the Al–Qaeda brand?
In the case of Trump, we need only look at this man’s chronology to see the very purposeful establishing of a brand. Following a few weeks of our being confronted by Trump’s voice and brand personality all day long, Robert Klara writes “Brand Trump: How the developer-cum-TV-star-cum-presidential candidate became a living product.” Among other painful accounts, Klara provides almost a year-by-year chronicle of the building of the Trump brand, with a timeline. Highlights include marrying Ivana (though most would say marrying Marla Maples was a bigger boon to the Trump brand); publishing The Art of the Deal; teaming up with NBC to run the Miss Universe Pageant; getting sky-high with Trump Air and then grounded; and of course the unfurling of The Apprentice. Trump represents a cacophony of things – mostly, collectively, appalling.
But, he is blazoned; he is a brand.
As far as the United Kingdom’s monarchy goes, unless you are a Briton, you may not have spent a lot of time thinking about the branding question. Yet the media haze surrounding the past few weeks has us flashing over events of our lifetime that have been a part of the brand story. We are aware of the troubled chronology, beginning with the falling apart of Charles and Diana, and leading up through recent unsavoury antics among the royal family. So, pausing for a day or two to suspend our cynicism on brand-speak and accept the “brand” attribution to the monarchy as we watched the royal wedding or perused any of its details over the weekend, it was hard not to ponder what certainly feels like a brand shift – a relaunch, if you will.
This brings us to the granddaddy, the monster of all sin brands: Al–Qaeda. Personally, though I know there has been some editorial on the concept of Al–Qaeda as “brand” over the past few years, I’ve never really thought of this way. That is, until hearing this phrase uttered during the pre-Obama segment on Sunday night: “What does Osama bin Laden’s death mean to the Al–Qaeda brand?” Having spent some time with the other two brands mentioned above, over the past week , I found this sequence of brand-speak almost mind-bending .
An event that had probably become almost unfathomable to those of us wearing civilian clothes every day dominates most of our heads and hearts on this Monday. We remember everything today that “Al–Qaeda” and “Osama bin Laden” have represented to us for nearly a decade. It cannot be encapsulated. While for a long time following September 11, 2001, the Al–Qaeda brand certainly represented terror, pervasive fear and radically adjusted reality, it eventually had to become something else, as life roared on adjacent to the war on terror. True, we mostly, probably separated bin Laden – with his hidden, underground status, and his seeming distance from operation – from the mother brand.
But, overnight, with this tear-jerking revelation, it all comes flooding back. In an instant, we recall the staying power of a monster brand, one that has been as integral as a household product for a long time.
Recent days have provided an unexpected primer on, well, unauthorised brands. Among this mixed lot, it seems true that of all the things we can say about brands, it is now obvious that a brand does not need our permission, love, or advocacy to be one.
This article republished by kind permission of www.mediapost.com <//www.mediapost.com>
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to email@example.com.