Still Brewing on Branding

I haven’t had much time to write in the last couple of weeks, but I still wanted to capture this train of thought somewhere.

At the turn of the month, I made my rounds to Talking Philosophy, where Jean Kazez had just written (competently, I feel) about the perils of caring too much and the virtue of indifference, especially as it pertains to religious matters. Although I’m taking it out of context, one of the passage which stirred most concerned a topic I’m passionate about:

“At least in the US, we are rather fond of definining ourselves clearly.  Each person practically has a brand (huge exaggeration–but think about facebook pages, blogs, ring-tones, and the like).  There’s also high intolerance for non-belief, making it more important to “come out” defiantly as a non-believer.  Atheism has developed something akin to a gay-pride movement, because there is in fact a high level of misunderstanding and prejudice in both cases.”

Jean says that considering Facebook pages, blogs, ring-tones, etc as a personal brand is a “huge exaggeration.” But is it really? In recent years, authors, prominent businesspersons, and media mongols have been pushing the idea that the main ingredient in success is creating a strong, irresistible brand of “You.” Considering that:

1) Are artifacts like Facebook, MySpace, ring-tones, blogs, twitters, etc precursors of the Brand-of-I mentality, or symptoms?

2) Are these precursors/symptoms healthy? Useful?

3) Where should we draw the line with our personal brands?

4) Perhaps more than anything, are we creating the brands, or are the brands creating us? (Corny, I know, but chew on it: Is the effort of perfecting our image for consumption causing us to burn away something more important?)

I’m reminded of Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm. He suggested that we relate to people most through narrative. This trend is exemplary evidence to support that theory. Further more, this trend may end up showing just how constructive – or destructive – narrative can be.