Friday, November 8, 2013

The Brand Experience

An item in my morning Twitter feed caught my attention today: a book offered through Writer’s Digest that helps authors find their one “thing” that they are known for, that sets them apart from the pack. Because I’m doing a huge media unit with my AP class now I immediately realized that this book was really about creating a brand.

The concept of branding isn’t new, of course, but what is new is the fact that each and every individual person (at least the ones with something to sell) now needs to invent a brand. Last week I showed my class The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, in which documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock makes a movie about selling and marketing a movie. In the film, Spurlock visits a fancy company that helps people identify their brand identities. They asked him nine thousand questions, pseudo-scientifically compiled and analyzed the data, and came up the idea that Spurlock’s brand was a Mindful/Playful brand. Some brands, the expert guy said, are just one thing, but a lot of brands are combo-brands, which certainly sounds better to me—double fan base?! Although when I think about it, I feel like having watched all of his movies, I could have come up with two adjectives to describe the guy’s work, and I would only have charged like twenty bucks. I shudder to think how much the “official” analysis cost.

So I say to myself, self, what’s our brand? (apparently I turn into Gollum when the topic of brands comes up). I’d certainly like to be a combo brand, so what are my two defining traits? Wait, that’s not going to work. No one’s going to sign up be part of a brand experience of:


Or, on a bad day:


(This is starting to sound like the list of Dwarves Rejected by Disney).

This mystical branding process seemed to work in the movie: the company identified several other Mindful/Playful brands, like Mini Cooper, and when Spurlock went after these companies, several of them actually signed on as sponsors of his movie. Maybe I really do need to figure out how to blurb my brand. (If I had any hope of being given a promotional Mini Cooper, I assure you, I’d be highly motivated to crack the brand code of me).

For most of my day, the brand identity I’m striving for is “favorite teacher”—while still not being the one who always lets them turn in late work or have class outside. As a writer, I think I’m still figuring it out. If I were to go for a combo brand, like Morgan got, I might say: Funny/Tragic. But, in addition to being a great example of oxymoron I can use in class, it’s also really just life.

I think I’ll stick to pretending it’s still 1995 and making playlists for every occasion, and if anyone needs a Halloween or Summer or Please Let the Holidays Be Over Already song list, I’m your gal.

Now if only I could get sponsored by iTunes...those $1.29 fees really add up. 

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