Branding of the Individual

by Robert Flores

Branding, as a concept of marketing, developed in Western culture as opposed to Eastern culture. Why? Well, let’s look at what branding is: a brand says that a product or service is unique, set apart, has different strengths than others and is made differently than other competitors. (That’s why you should buy this particular brand over other competing brands). Why would the concepts of being “unique” and “different” and “having value” not have developed in Eastern culture?

Eastern culture, steeped in pantheistic Buddhism, Taosim, or the teachings of Confucius don’t have the concepts of uniqueness as a foundation. The equality of all things (i.e. relativism) as well, makes a person “just another cog in the machine”. Eastern culture does not put value on the individual because we’re “all the same and we’re all in the same universe.” The equality of good and bad, black and white, Ying and Yang does not allow for anyone person (or product) to be better than the others. Hence, the term “generic products” (products that are just like the others with no value in itself and nothing inherently different) is a concept borne out of Eastern culture.

In contrast, in America, branding is big business: “you are a somebody” is the general message of every advertisement, billboard and commercial. We, as a materialistic culture, are constantly being bombarded with messages of why we should buy one brand of shampoo over the other guys’ brand. I want to get to the heart of this kind of thinking.

Western culture was originally based on a philosophy that the individual has value and is uniquely different than others. That philosophy was Christianity. Christianity says, “you are unique and set apart from those around you.” Christianity gives value to people because they are made in the image of God.

In contrast, Eastern culture (i.e. Communism, Totalitarianism, etc.) strips the individual of value and then gives that value back to nature, family, heritage, community and universe. That’s why Easterners have pantheism and ancestor-worship.

However, branding can also be taken too far, being influenced by pride, selfishness and a worship of money (i.e. Western Culture, Capitalism, etc.).

Now, I mentioned that America was built on the foundation of Christianity, but as we see today, that foundation is quickly eroding way. Competing philosophies like Humanism, Evolution, Abortion, Euthanasia, Capitalism and Communism are stripping the individual of value (just like in Eastern cultures). These philosophies can only lead to the making generic of the individual which will lead to the death of people.

For example, in China, under Mao Ze-Dong’s regime (China 1958-61,1966-69, Tibet 1949-50), between 49 million and 78 million Chinese were murdered because they were first made generic, given a number and then they were no longer deemed valuable by the state. Other notable Asian tyrants include:

• Hideki Tojo (Japan, 1941-44) who murdered 5,000,000 civilians in WWII

• Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) who murdered 1,700,000 people

• Kim Il Sung (North Korea, 1948-94) who murdered 1.6 million people through his purges and concentration camps

Where Eastern culture is changing is in the area of adding branding to its products. And where this is occurring it is only because that culture has been a) influence by western culture (i.e. Taiwan) or b) selling to the western world (i.e. mainland China).

The greed of money seems to be the driving force between both the genericness of individuals (which is precursored by the genericness of products) in the western culture and in the adding of individuality/branding to the eastern culture.

It’s ironic to think that America puts more value on its products (though being made cheaper in China) than it does on its citizens. Or, it’s ironic to think that in China, they are trying to put value on their products while still not putting value on its citizens. The people of both east and west have been turned into robots, numbers and “just another carbon footprint” only to be used for the good of the state. Value has been given the definition of productivity: the more productive you are, the more valuable you; the less productive you are, the less valuable you are. China will never be able to make anything non-generic until their culture un-generics their people first. (But that could only be done if Buddhism and Communism un-generics the people first). People are not just a drop in the ocean; not something to be reincarnated; not a number; not a waste of space.

Americans, likewise will never find their value in products (materialism) until they start valuing the individual human life. America knows what being special is all about. America itself was born out of special circumstances (i.e. breaking free from tyrannical, monarchial England). But Americans have turned away from valuing the individual. That’s why they hate the unborn, children, crippled, elderly, mentally handicapped and the cancer patient. That’s why western dictators rise up like Stalin (who murdered 23 million), Hitler (who murdered 12 million) and Leopold II of Belgium (who murdered 8 million people in the Congo).

Americans, bred in a Christian culture, know right from wrong (at least they say they do). That’s why Americans have standards bodies like OSHA and ANSI that say if a product or activity is safe or not(and if it’s not safe, it doesn’t get approved). These safety standards weren’t invented at all in the East. No, they were created in a culture that puts value on a person’s health and well-being. Until Americans start re-valuing their neighbor, they will continue to see the unbranding of products, entertainment and a genericness to the culture at large. Perhaps that is why there are so many suicides—people don’t feel they have value in themselves. And, that’s what a culture of materialism tells them “until you buy or product you won’t have value.” But, a person’s value comes from God. In fact, God has stamped us with His brand “Made in my Image”. That’s the best brand a person could ever have.

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." –Psalm 139:14