February 23rd, 2001 by Clark Humphrey

AMONG THE MOST ENDURING CLICHES in business guidebooks is “branding.”

No, I don’t mean that kinky fetish from The Story of O. I mean the far kinkier, and more humiliating, ritual of treating a brand name as one’s most important asset, of treating everythiing you’ve got (especially yourself) as a “brand” to be marketed, and of building a line of goods and services around that brand.

You’re not a widget maker using the name Brand X, you’re a marketer of the Brand X name and image, which could start out attached to widgets but then be expanded into doodads, thingamajigs, and whatsits. (After a while you could even consider dropping the original widget business entirely, or at least farming it out to overseas subcontractors.)

With this in mind, let us consider the brand that is MISCmedia. (We’ve done this before about a year ago; but this is one of those exercises the guidebooks say one should regularly reprise.)

Our products, such as they are, are packages of written words, in both online and printed form. But what does the Mm brand really stand for under these guidebooks’ rules? And, based upon that, what other products might it be slapped onto?

Sure, Mm stands for witty oration and smart-alecky pontification. But it also represents a worldview, a zeitgeist of bemused befuddlement. It says to the world, “I want to understand you, world, but it’s just too darned complicated, and I can’t pretend it’s not too darn complicated; all I can do is laugh a quick laugh and get on with it.”

From this brief imaging statement could conceivable arise an entire line of Mm goods. Some of these just might include:

  • The lecture series. Yr. ob’d’t online columnist, and a hand-picked group of guest lecturers, will speak at churches and hotel meeting rooms. You’ll learn how to talk Seattle (the “a” in “Ivar’s” is that upside-down-e schwa sound). You’ll hear a rousing acclamation of the U.S. of A. as one of the three or four greatest nations in all of North America. You’ll understand just why understanding is a futile quest.
  • The home-study course. With our eight-CD box set of audio lessons, augmented by 12 videocassettes and three work-study books, you’ll undergo a world-spanning history of misunderstanding–from the Tower of Babel, to the landmarks of India that Columbus should’ve known he wasn’t seeing, to everything Reagan couldn’t remember even when he could, to that big dispute a couple years back about what the meaning of “is” is.

    Don’t have time for the full course? Then check out our short-cut guide to utter confusion, Stupidity for Dummies.

  • The PBS miniseries. A reasonable Bill Moyers facsimile (Richard Dysart of LA Law, perhaps?) will interview everybody from stock clerks to politicians about the vital issues affecting 21st-century humanity–the NASDAQ collapse, why anybody outside the music industry should be expected to care about the Grammys, how global corporate power might be kept in check, and the glut of daytime judge shows.
  • The motivational posters, key rings, and badges. Our exclusive line of “Unsuccessories” will remind everyone that their last paycheck is just around the corner.

    One design might depict the (admittedly already stale) image of a former future dot-com millionaire on the streets, shivering in his Casual Friday attire, holding up a perfectly desktop-published sign offering to write CGI-BIN scripts for food.

    Another, slightly less didactic, design might display a leggy sueprmodel clad in the latest styles, seated at a downtown library table, pondering a weighty tome by Hegel and pondering (according to the poster caption) whether there really is a perfect antithesis for every thesis, and who or what might be the ideal antithesis to her.

  • The animated series. Our 13-episode Adventures in Befuddlement will feature a quintet of race- and gender-balanced cute little kiddies exploring a vast cartoon universe filled with loyal friends, treacherous enemies, treacherous friends, loyal enemies, cute little monsters with trademarked names, unbilled cameo appearances by ex-Presidents, painful life-lessons about the heartbreak of psoriasis, and short speeches to the audience at the end about how you really shouldn’t believe everything you hear in short speeches to the audience by cartoon characters.

Or, I could just put out some T-shirts and coffee mugs.

NEXT: The most eternal, unsung aspect of the Seattle zeitgeist–whining.


  • You show me a historical pattern of white hipster-wannabes pretending to be black, and I’ll show you a “minstrel cycle….”

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa
© Copyright 1986-2022 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).