People Have Names; Things Have Brands

Brier Rose Syrup label

Where do you put YOUR label?

Continuing the discussion we began last time, I proposed that we in the United States rethink “personal branding”, a hot buzz word in career guidance circles. The term is becoming common coin in  linguistic currency and already being devalued.  Thus begins another “research trip” as we attempt to unpack this concept. This is the premise I am working from:

Corporations are not human beings, but legal economic entities (do you get this, Supreme Court?). They have names.

Corporations give the products they offer for sale in the marketplace a “brand name”; a word that distinguishes one product from another; an ID tag.

Human beings are given names; words that distinguishes one human from another; an ID tag.

People have names. Products have brand-names.

People are human beings. Products are things.

There is an essential “wrong-ness” in the idea of “marketing” a human being like a product. Marketing a human being  like a product slides into “object-fying” that person–handling a person in thought just like a hair brush…something to be used…something having usefulness/utility until it is worn out, outdated, or tired-of.  The  thought process about the person devolves into,

 “What can he/she/it do for me?”; “Why this one/person/candidate, and not that one?”

It gets worse. The language of comparison shopping gets applied in the thought process:

 “If I get/buy/hire this one vs. that one,

  • How long will it last? will I have to replace it soon?
  • is it the best I can get for my money? What about return over investment?
  • is it high quality? Will it add to my good reputation with others?
  • can I get testimonials from satisfied customers about it?”

 Why not consider more carefully the full result of applying that page torn out of the marketers’ book?De-commodify yourself


One thought on “People Have Names; Things Have Brands

  1. Victoree, I absolutely agree that, “corporations are not human beings, but legal economic entities” and I do wish that the Supreme Court could grasp that concept. Corporations, with their huge economic resources, have the ability to control the laws of the country through their influences on the lawmakers if allowed to be viewed as “just another person.”

    On the other hand, when speaking of branding, I’m afraid that in the case of persons such as Paris Hilton or the Kardashian sisters, the person is the brand. Paris Hilton has no “promise to the consumer,” no “experience for the consumer” other than her fame. She is reasonably attractive but other than the fact that she was born a very rich girl with an obsession for fame, she has nothing to offer of substance.

    Her “products,” i.e. hair extensions, fragrance line, footwear, sunglasses, clothing line, handbags, etc. are merely product extensions of the Paris Hilton Brand.

    They are very upfront about it. Here is the copy from her fragrance collection ads:

    “She’s famous. She’s an expert at attracting attention. She’s in the spotlight wherever she goes. She is setting new standards for socialites. She always seems to be at the centre of things. Who is she? Paris Hilton, of course.

    “Rich in its appeal, it defines that moment in time when powerful sensuality and breathtaking beauty are captured in a way that all can enjoy. Now, you have the opportunity to share in the grip of the magic that is Paris Hilton.

    “Find out what it smells like to be a Star.”

    Did you see anything in that copy that tells you what the promise of the experience of this product will be beyond “smell like Paris Hilton?” Their is no branding within this fragrance line because their can’t be. The “Brand” is Paris Hilton. The perfume is just another product.


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