To Brand or Not To Brand

I’ve finally given in to the world and decided to begin marketing myself as a writer on the online. 

“Welcome,” you might say. “It’s about time you caught up with the world.” 

“Thank you,” I say back to you. “You’ve finally broken me.” 

It’s not that I have anything against social media per-say. At worst it’s just the latest way to waist your time. And I’m choosing to be an optimist and focus on the opportunities that it can provide me. For instance, the opportunity to have my opinions heard by people that are too far away for me to shout at, is quite exciting. 

The honest truth is that my excuses have just worn too thin. You see, I’m the old fashioned author type. Aside from solo singer/song writer, I chose the art-form of novella and short fiction, because in my heart, I’m from the old school. Well, that and I have an incredibly high capacity for talking nonsense. So really, being on the online is perfect for me.

However, there is still one issue that validates my apprehension, and it’s one that is so pervasive into the minds and attitudes of everybody everywhere, that we don’t even recognise the effect that it has. When I think about this issue, it makes me want to cry.



The Power of Language


On the surface, it’s an issue of language. But language is such a powerful thing. Not only does it govern how we speak and interact with each other, but it governs the way we think and the way we form our attitudes. Even deeper than that, it frames the inner biases that lurk unnoticed in the recesses of each and every person’s psyche, steering us this way and that in a thousand tiny, split second decisions, everyday. Language is far more effective than we realise. The way that we speak really does govern the way that we think, and hence the way we relate to others and live our daily lives. 

Take, for example, our collective understanding of the term ‘structure.’ Let’s use it to analyse the way that metaphors become a part of our every day language. 

To create a structure belongs originally to the domain of construction. A structure is any kind of building, but the assumption is that the structure will be solid and won’t fall down. Furthermore, there is an assumption that the structure will be designed to serve the needs of a specific purpose and that the design will work. Yet we don’t even jolt to think about this when we go to draft up a piece of writing, we just work around a set structure. 

Everything has to have structure now-days, or it is no good. A person that doesn’t follow an accepted format and method of doing things, someone that does things in their own way, or follows a non-mainstream tradition, seems irrational and their work is considered valueless. 

There is a moral element too. Consider the connotations of the biblical parable of the foolish man who built a structure on sand, that the waves came and washed away. There is no way of escaping the moral charge that any bible story, no matter how banal, has on Western minds. If somebody produces poor work, not only are they incompetent, but they are immoral also. Outwardly, we are supposed to be politically correct and treat everybody with care, “as we would have them do unto us.” But viscerally, language’s insidious nature, turns far too many of us into sinister creatures who are directed by the yes/no mechanism of their primal compulsions.



Brand Me, Baby


I was advised by someone recently, that it was time to start “branding myself.” To brand oneself. This is a phrase that makes me cringe. It’s a really creepy expression. It’s cold and hollow. To me this simple little metaphor verbalises all that is wrong with the corporate world. The widespread absorption of this kind of language will inevitably create plastic, shrink wrapped, two dimensional, fetishized commodities of people, and the world will suffer for it. This is why, to date, I have resisted donning the proverbial two piece suit and metaphorical noose. Everything in my being is revolted by the superficiality that I see being bred into people by the cororatisation of society.

Corporate people always seem too slick to me. Too well presented and over confident. They talk about themselves in positive affirmations. They’re quick to highlight the strengths of their personality. They sell themselves on how they can bring their own unique brand to a company and use it to generate wealth, or move things forward. They spurt out these; and no end of other moronic clichés, without an ounce of hesitation. 

But when our man is hired, the weaknesses of his character won’t reveal themselves immediately, they will be far more insidious than that. They’ll hide away, not only from public view, but from the conscious awareness of the occupant himself. They’ll be like gremlins living inside the body of a corporate stiff. Our man will keep it together and the gremlins will only reveal themselves from time to time, but they’ll take on a life of their own.  They’ll lurk and they’ll fester and they’ll comandeer his decision making process and he’ll never, ever, realise his true potential. Because he’s never stopped to take the time to have a proper think about things. All along our man branded himself by his good qualities, and this allowed his sinister nature to rule the show.



Branding and Sports


The effect of this form of self-identity is to suck the soul out of things and leave them lifeless, just a glossy veneer of something that might have been of value once upon a time. 

Before the last Rugby World Cup, I was disgusted to hear Will Genia referring to the Wallabies, and worst of all himself, as a brand. It was infuriating, but fortunately it also prepared me for the devastation that was to follow. This devistation was manifested in the New Zealand bred, Quade Cooper, having the brain explosion to end all brain explosions right in front of a world-wide audience. The corporately branded little pull-dickie, choked under pressure and put us out of the cup. The thing that really hurts is that we had the squad to get us through to the podium. And it was the team’s coach, (also a New Zealander) who evidently approved of all this self-branding talk, that kept Cooper in the squad when it was clear he didn’t have the kahoonas for the big stage. 

For me rugby, like literature, is about far more than the imbecillic speech I hear spurted out by people with an agenda. There is a dimension underneath the surface of our superficial perceptions that is full of life and intrigue. It is a place where ambiguity is the lifeblood, where the joyous and good lurks beside and intertwines with the sinister and disturbing, and neither of them are wrong or good and each is bad and right, in their own way.

So for the sake of honesty, and by way of introducing myself, I’m going to be up front about the defects that are inherent in my personality. In doing this I’m going to have to rely on your own positive nature, dear reader, to decide what my good qualities are. 

I should point out that It is not possible for me to be aware of all my bad qualities, or I would have done something about them, but these are the ones that I’m at least comfortable with.



Defect #1- I’m non-conformist


I’m sure you have figured that out by now, but what I probably haven’t made clear is that if I was able to, I would happily sell out and take the six figure income that I’m capable of. I’d love to spend my days on the phone, telling people how awesome I am and then drink caipirinhas at lawyer bars. After that I would drive my luxury 4X4 home to my Eastern Suburbs apartment where my trophy wife would be waiting to kiss me with her collagen infected lips. Unfortunately, for reasons touched upon above, I’m just not able. This is a real problem for me. 



#2- I smell


I try to keep myself clean and well groomed, but what can I say. There’s just a cheesy odor that emanates from my armpits.



#3- I’m superficial


This is one that I’m actually not cool with at all. But unfortunately I feel the need to bag pubs, TV shows, movies and other banalities that I deem inadequate by my own subjectivity.



#4- I’m arrogant


Once again, not cool with this, but there’s times when I just think that I’m really, really cool and that you should all know about it.



#5- I’m dohey


I lost a job at a pizza restaurant recently because I constantly forgot how to do the job. At first they were really impressed at how quick I picked it up, but I needed to be retrained every night because, quite frankly, the job was boring. I was more interested in watching the flour fly off the edges of the pizza dow as the chief spun it round in the air. It would spread around the kitchen in a fine white mist that gave a dreamy fogginess to the tuscan brickwork. It would then settle gently onto the floor. And then my boss told me that I was fired.


#6- I can’t spell


Not only am I a terrible speller, I have visionary designs on revolutionising the way that the English language is spelt, there is more to this than you might realise. But more of that in the months to come.



So there we have it. Now that I’ve made it clear upon arrival in the market place that  I’m not a product for everyone, I hope we can have many meaningful discussions and learn and unlearn a thing or two together.


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