Me: the brand.

April 21, 2015 § 10 Comments

His T-shirt read:

Order yours today!

Order yours today!

THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, and he was trailing his wife around the Tallahassee Flea Market.

He was taller than most, good-looking too, but myth? Legend?

Perhaps his label was a joke. Or a wish. Or a gift from his kids.

But as I looked around, other T-shirts made claims for their wearers.

Big claims.

None said anything as modest as: Nice Guy, Good Kid, or Decent Human Being.

Please read the following in the voice of an irritated geezer.

Why is it that everyone is extraordinary these days? A star? The center of the universe? In my day we were ordinary and proud of it.

Okay, go back to your normal voice. The one that doesn’t sound cranky or like a used car salesman or carnival barker, and ask yourself nicely, why is it that we have to package ourselves as if we were really famous or as familiar as an iconic consumer product?

When it comes to self-promotion the T-shirt is just the beginning.

Coke advertising art.

“Branding.”

If you do anything public or commercial you will be told to brand yourself. Being unwilling or bad at it will be held against you.

Consider some of the great, reclusive creative artists of the past: Vincent Van Gogh, Harper Lee, Emily Dickenson, J.D. Salinger. What if their inability to sell themselves had kept their work from seeing the light of day?

I write books and make music, both public activities that require an audience, and I will email you and post to Face Book and hope you’ll come out to hear me sing or buy my latest book, but the pressure is on to do so much more.

I’m told that to succeed I must shake the tree of social media constantly, collect followers. Maybe “followers” is just an unfortunate choice of words, but I humbly submit, unless you are Jesus Christ, the Buddha, or some other radiant source of light, you should have friends and family, not followers.

Famous people have always been with us, but in other eras they were few and known to everyone not living under a rock.

Elvis.Elvis. Marilyn Monroe. John F. Kennedy. Genuinely larger than life, they towered. But if you think about the lives of those who deserve the title Legend, the price of owning that title is high.

Given the choice, would you want the burden of being Elvis?

Now that being legendary is the norm we are like a string of firecrackers, each of us going off with a loud pop and a fizz of smoke, briefly noticed before this short-attention-span society shifts its gaze to the next shiny object.

Please return to the cranky voice. In my day we were all in this together! As my mother used to say when I asked if I was pretty, “You’re pretty enough.” Back then enough was good enough.

Few of us are destined to tower, but we can strive to be a Nice Guy, a Good Kid, or a Decent Human Being.

We don’t need a T-shirt to advertise it. We just need to live it.

 

Note: After reading this, my husband, Ray, has agreed to, never again, wear his FISH FEAR ME T-shirt (although they would be wise to do so).

 

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§ 10 Responses to Me: the brand.

  • craig reeder says:

    I loved what you said about “unless you are Jesus Christ, the Buddha, etc…..” The term “followers” has a kind of creepiness to it, like some cultish mob of zombies, but it is so central to this new virtual world of social interaction. thanks again for homespun wisdom and a little reality check.

    Like

    • …even though it is the effort of the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. Oh wait, the Dutch boy held back the flood.

      …even though it is the effort of someone trying to convince a new day not to dawn.

      Yes, creepy is the word for the idea of followers.

      Like

  • Heh! When first reading, I saw “…briefly noticed before this short-attention-span society shifts its gaze to the next shiny object” as “slimy” object, and it fit perfectly. Another great post. I’m happy enough striving for “Decent Human Being,” That’s tough enough to achieve.

    Like

  • KM Huber says:

    Well, that new day will have its dawn, won’t it? It seems it always has. I hear you about “branding” in this not-so-brave, not-so new world. It’s a very noisy place, a competition of voices. I have learned to turn them off, as I know you have.

    Branding is not my style, although I did attend some workshops and learned about different social media outlets and how they work. For me, it all came down to one word: relationship. I’ve met a lot of people online but I only have a relationship with a core group, which is quite varied in interest, occupation, and world view. Overall, we’ve managed to build a relationship based on respect, meaning we do not always agree but we support one another. I have learned a great deal from them.

    Ah, maybe I am just splitting hairs, Adrian!

    Karen

    Like

    • You are right, it is not as simple as I have made it. On the plus side, if we are not trying to put ourselves on pedestals and gather worshipers we have the opportunity for discourse with people we will never meet. Ideas can now travel like water, slipping easily from place to place, and that is good.

      Liked by 1 person

  • ammaponders says:

    I do like the idea of gifting some people with a t-shirt that says “Decent Human Being.” I think constant taking of selfies (such a ridiculous word) and posting them is out of hand. Whatever happened to not wanting your picture taken? I have a blog. Do I have to brand myself, too? No, thanks.

    Like

    • I love your blog, Karen Huber’s too because both of you are so genuine in your writing. Your posts are so human they have none of the packaged feel of a brand.

      And I’m with you on selfies. For Pete sake, just admire the Eiffel Tower, you don’t need to know what you look like standing in front of it.

      Like

  • Paul of Flowerland Mountains says:

    Ms Adrian, your writing does stir up the deeeeeeeeeeep waters!
    Hanging around both extreme kinds of people (the extremely selfish and taking / stealing / lying — and extremely unselfish who give – share – and self-display without thought of what they may receive in return) in various kinds of institutions, plus the vast array of beings struggling inbetween these extremes – kinda makes me not want to look in the mirror! (for fear I might read the writing on the wall behind me? haha);
    By the way, I am soulfully with the lady who comments how she likes to be with others she knows as friends rather than stratifying others in terms of power and influence; I have a bunch of videos in my YouTube account who are “friends and family in music”, as well as in my computer as one of the various kinds of music I listen to (i.e. folk, celtic, classical):
    Guess I had not thought of relationship as a category until you held the mirror up to my face….
    Thanks… I guess…. (from one who likes to be a member of the band rather than the front guy…)

    Like

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