I believe America is not a “brand.”
“The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”
Since when has it become common parlance to refer to Political parties and Political affiliation as “A Brand”? Exactly what is it that “Brand America” is selling? This condition implies that our political realities are as fickle and as irrelevant as our supposed investment in either Mac or PC, Toyota or Ford, or better yet, “The Torture Brand” and the “Non-Torture Brand”. Are our political insights subject to the wet dream of marketing double-speak and corporate saturation that appeals to the basest of our consumerist tendencies? I believe that our Political realities deserve more consideration than our choices over which brand of shoes we choose.
Our Nation with all of its faults and more significantly all of its successes represents something far greater than an attempt by marketing mavens to “package an item” to sell to the world. I believe such reductive (and quite frankly insulting, conceptually and ideologically bankrupt) language represents what can only be considered as the utter and complete disregard for what our founding fathers meant when they said,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Are we that conceptually bankrupt that we would allow the petty and mediocre to cloud our own characterization of what many have called the “American Dream?” Is our own narcissistically challenged Twenty-First Century image so boorish and myopic that we can provide no better understanding of ourselves without recourse to the pabulum and trivialities of the marketing “geniuses” of the crystal walled edifices of 5th Avenue?
If I were looking for a manner of reframing the discussion of America’s role in demanding context of our burgeoning century, I suggest not barkers, nor snake oil salesmen and their charming palaver. No I suggest we look to men and women of merit who trade in the only true “capital,” the only aspect of our nature, which truly separates us from the beasts, and that is the world of ideas and most importantly the world of “Ideals.”
The framers of the Constitution were not trying to “sell” something to King George, nor to the men and women who made that valiant stand against the now defunct and antiquated ideas of Europe’s “Monarchial privilege.” On the contrary, the very nature of their argument had little or nothing to do with salesmanship. The desire to rid our selves of the yoke of our Colonial Father, was predicated on the least saleable of all items : an “Ideal.”
Try as many do, to configure, re-configure, contextualize and re-contextualize the condition, no one person, Nation nor corporation (try as some may,) can trademark, copyright or secure the intellect property rights to an “Ideal.” While we have stumbled in our attempts to realize this “Dream” though out the course of our Nation’s great infancy, I believe it is time to look deep within ourselves and that mirror before us and search for a less base, a less garish manner of defining ourselves.
America is not a brand name. It was not created to be packaged, bought, sold, traded, imported, exported, re-packaged and, most importantly it was not created to be “marketed.” America can never be a “Brand,” this I believe.