For those of us who have been bought up on a diet of management jargon or clothing catalogues, the word 'brand' invokes images of name labels, glitzy ramps and press conferences. We believe that branding is a third party activity, which we then use to show off to our friends.
Many of us miss the universal meaning of the word brand. A brand is the sum total of images and feelings that a word or image invokes in us. The reason a brand becomes powerful is that it associates a lot more information on this one word or image, than the image could possibly hold on its own. And many a times, such association is not necessarily logical - and this lack of reason is the source for the assymetrical power of the brand.
Take, for example, the branding that each and every one of us do everyday as we profile the people around us. "He is a libran - never decides". "She stay out late, god only knows what for". "He is fun and intelligent, must be gay". Profiling is one of the fundamental effects of branding that we constantly overlook in our daily lives. Such profiling was probably built over time, with constant reinforcement, giving these words, images and ideas such a hold over our though process, that we not only let them rule our actions, but we frequently fail to see through to the profiles we carry.
Take another example - probably the biggest brand on earth - God. No one has seen him. No one has interviewed him. But everyone knows everything that is to be known about it. No, dont get me wrong. I am not against theology - just that this entire study seems to be an massive exercise in brand building.
This post is not about theology, or a delve into the idea that make up god. Rather it is about some other brands that we carry along with us. The people that we meet.
I have been carrying around a brand, that recently came to the fore again. This man, was a professor of mine at a point in time. During the period, my interactions with him brought out ideas that I live by to this day. And a by-product of this was that I have this brand image of this person, his idea and his thought process. So when I found out that he had published a book, there wasnt even the slightest hesitation in my mind as I clicked through the steps online to get it delivered home. I knew it would be a while before I would return home to read it, but there was no hesitation is ordering the book on the spot. The power of the brand image.
The book reached home and my mom read it. And she loved it like she loved no other book till now. We spent an inordinate amout of time talking about it and reflecting on the book. I realised, that I was indeed talking about the book and the ideas therein without ever having seen the book. The power of the brand - the ideas that the brand carries along.
Make you take a pause and reflect - when you form such powerful impressions about others, wonder what your brand is talking about you. Of course, everyone wants to be known for their plusses - but the brand is a whole lot different. It is not just your features, it is the entire feeling that your recollection evokes in the person. What is it? A warm fuzzy feeling? A cold dread? Silent admiration? Masked disgust? What does your brand speak about you?
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