Thursday, August 10, 2006


Battle Of The Logos

There was an article in the New York Times last week that documented a new trend among the young - the development of homemade personal brands for fun and profit. Individualistic and enterprising youths affix their own logo, brand or signature to everything they own or fabricate. On some level their actions are as primal as those of an animal marking out its territory. But the intended effect is less to repel than to attract. Attract what? Notice, comment, admiration, even fame or a market for their self-branded merchandise. I see it as an inevitable grass-roots reaction to those brands and logos imposed on us so relentlessly from the corporate powers that control the world. It is a kind of counter-marketing, an imperial act of self-identification that not only liberates your spirit but takes back as much as it can of the world around you.

Corporations are notorious for their oppressive policies of absolute ownership. Your time is theirs, your tools are theirs, and your actions must follow their rules to the letter. Even the products of your own creativity are owned by the bosses. This insistence on corporate ownership is one of the means through which they oppress you and diminish your humanity. Consider what would happen if we all rebelled by reasserting our own identities, not through violence or resistance or the naive act of just speaking out, but through the medium of commercial publicity - the genesis of one's own sovereign brand. John Doe will not simply express himself - he will distribute John Doe Ideas. He will not simply put in a day's work - he will create John Doe Original Software or John Doe Business Plans or John Doe Press Releases. As Arnold Toynbee once remarked, outsiders take control of the center of the dominant society not by repudiating its values, but by internalizing them even more thoroughly than the insiders. The only way to beat corporate culture may be to swallow it whole.

"The Brand Underground" from New York Times Magazine

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