Marketing the individual

I had lunch a few days ago with a friend who I met while at NPR. She freelances for them and we worked together many times.

The conversation turned to the value of branding and I have been thinking more and more about how subtle the art of branding is. I was telling my friend that I don’t think most of us can articulate how we feel about different brands or why. But we do have subtle ingrained impressions. And they guide our decision making.

I have been thinking about how this basic concept of marketing can apply to people as a product. Do we consider someone authoritative, trustworthy, a leader… How are our impressions formed and shaped, and how can they be manipulated?

Successful actors and casting directors, especially in the Hollywood industry, often have a good grasp of this concept. But they think of it in a different way – the idea of types: is someone the romantic lead type or the comic sidekick?

How they arrive at these molds seems to have a lot to do with basic societal norms, expectations and even prejudices.

But it’s all very subtle and can leave some of us trapped in a mold not of our choosing. So I wonder if it’s possible to recast that mold to whatever one wants, if the right ingredients are manipulated.

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