Growing up during the 60’s and 70’s, brands like Levi, Keds, Singer, Montgomery Ward’s, Jiffy Peanut Butter, Tab, Dr. Pepper, and Palmolive were standards by which we lived. Back then there weren’t as many choices of jeans, tennis shoes, clothing stores, food items or soap, so often the Brand name very often became synonymous with the product it’s self.
For example many people call aluminum metal mini blinds Levelor blinds, not realizing that Levelor is the name of a company that makes and sells mini blinds, not the blinds themselves. Yet if I were to say I was buying Levelors, most people who grew up during the 20th century would immediately think, “She’s buying metal mini blinds”.
In today’s ever evolving social networking branding can mean the difference between notoriety and obscurity. In the realm of publishing alone, name branding has been elevated to almost god like status. By it’s very nature, an author is known, a publishing house is reviewed, technology explodes and SE’s such as Google, Yahoo and Bing weld the power to either crown us kings and queens or demote us to the shadowed recesses of pages 2 through eternity on the web map of relevancy.
But did the power of a name really begin with modern-day technology or did it start much earlier in time? Is it really fair to assign cyber-polytheism as the fall guys of our identities when in fact the idea of names and power has been around since the dawn of mankind?
Throughout history the mythology of true names or ‘branding’ was believed to hold great power. For instance, if a person knew the true or real name of a god, deity or person, than the one possessing that knowledge would be able to use that power as means to make said god, deity or person do or say whatever they wanted.
The early Egyptians believed that an individual’s true name contained the very essence or soul of that person and that within their soul lay the DNA of who they really were. In her article ‘The Power of a Name‘ © Kristen Hanley Cardozo states, All throughout mythology, examples can be found of secret names, names that had the power to destroy, and names that had the power to bring great rewards…A person could not exist without his name.’
In ancient Hebrew the name of God was considered to be so holy and all-powerful that Jews were not allowed to use it. Instead, he was called YHWH, and to be allowed to even write the word was a holy and sacred act that required the scribe to first go through a period of cleansing and sanctification before taking up pen and parchment.
SF writer’s such as Ursula K Le Guin ( Earthsea), Christopher Paolini’s (Alagaesia), Terry Brooks (Shanara) and Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden) have woven this concept into the back-story and plot line of their own books. Matter of fact, the author’s themselves have become branding tags that weld great power on the Twin Peaks of Publishing and Authorship.
Today’a Hollywood stars have requently become the branding power behind cars (‘Diddy’ and Mercedes-Benz), technology (Ashton Kutcher’s and Nikon), political agendas (President of the United States, Governor of California) and social world issues. Individual’s like Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, Bono, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Bill and Linda Gates have become synonymous with wealth, power, and influence and often use their name and the infuence it represents to affect the welfare of small nations.
Recent reality shows have in only a matter of months, elevated obscure individual’s like Snooki (Nicole Polizzi), Kim Kardashian, and Jon & Kate (Gosselin) to exaggerated heights of stardom simply by spotlighting a situation, branding it and inviting the world to sit down and watch in real-time how it plays out.
So if names and branding are such an important part of elevating emerging writer’s (such as myself and other’s) out of obscurity (and into the eye of agents, publisher’s and worldwide readership), what are some of the steps that we can take to begin building our own?
Should we change our name to one that sounds stronger like Billie Letts character, Noblee Nation did when she named her daughter Americus, …a name that means something…a sturdy name…a strong name…? Should we look to world leaders and people of influence and adopt one of theirs in hopes that the deeds and exploits under which they performed would, like osmosis seep over onto us?
Or do we hold on to the one we already have, work out the dents, perfect our craft and start parking it out under blog sites, Ezine’s, short stories, and anywhere else we can find that will allow us to post our wares?
In my next post we’ll take a look at what it means to Brand yourself and why it’s what every emerging writer will need as a part of what Dan Schawble calls their Personal Branding Toolkit.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer