Brand -- "A mark made...to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership...to impress indelibly..." (Excerpted from Websters' Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary.)
When I was growing up, the Ivory baby and Breck girl were major brands or icons. So were Lucky Strike and Camel cigarettes, the Marlboro Man, Aunt Jemima pancakes and Philco radios.
Media marketing was -- and still is -- virtually the only way to persuade hometenders, breadwinners and teenagers to shell out bucks to line the pockets of sponsors, manufacturers and ad agencies -- especially to fulfill fantasies!
If you were in the market for romance, Listerine could sweeten your breath and guarantee that eligible, attractive and rich partners would compete for your favors.
Ninety pound weaklings became muscle-bound he-men with a little boost from Charles Atlas.
It obviously worked, as many of these products are still doing a brisk business in retail stores.
Other brands were MGM, Paramount and Twentieth Century Fox, who used fan magazines to keep their galaxies of glamorous stars in the headlines... and buyers on the movie lines.
These larger-than-life artists were, in actuality, creations of the studios -- their contracts stipulated that their images be retained on-screen and in the supermarket.
We're all familiar with the Golden Age of Hollywood from memory or Turner Classic Movies -- and the new school of celebrities?
J.Lo reigns as Queen of them all... With Lady Gaga closing in. George, Brad, Johnny -- Kings all!
Not to mention Oprah, Martha, and Michael -- who rules from Neverever Land, somewhere in the hereafter.
Now we have another wrinkle! (God forbid, not on your face)
Yes, ordinary folks like me and thee are being encouraged to brand ourselves.
Starting with MySpace and outpaced by Facebook and Tweeting, exposure has become necessary.
How and why did it became essential to self-advertise?
Dale Carnegie established himself as perhaps the first self-help guru in his prophetic book, How To Win Friends and Influence People.
So how old is this concept?
Cleopatra bathed in milk and kohled her eyes -- Caesar and Anthony bought it.
Only a few decades ago, Emily Post, guru of etiquette, advised us to put our best-clad feet forward.
Beads of nervous sweat cost Richard Nixon the presidency, changing history.
Upon learning that I am an image consultant, people have stated that they think what I do is superficial, saying that "only what's inside is important".
My reply is, "I can see that."
Yesterday I did the "ladies who lunch" thing with two relics from my vintage, both fully functioning. Afterwards we strolled along Columbus Avenue taking in the great early fall weather and the wares offered by the semi-annual Crafts Fair on Columbus fair.
One companion, actually from my hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, is well educated, recently widowed and spent most of her professional life in academia. Her visiting friend is from North Carolina and cut from similar cloth.
We paused to admire the creations of one of my favorite vendors who, using recycled material, makes flowers that Mother Nature never dreamed of, and amazing multi-purpose scarves from remnants.
The KY lady walked away wearing a black lacquered blossom with a rhinestone center on her basic black suit. The NC visitor added a subtle silk long scarf to her beige poplin jacket, giving herself an intriguing Isadora Duncan flavor.
Neither lady was changed in essence, only in how she felt about herself as well as how she would be perceived by others.
Both seemed perkier, prettier, more approachable!
Having spent a lifetime studying mans' true spiritual nature, I would be the last to insist that what emanates from the heart takes second place to physical appearance. Or vice-versa.
What's the difference?
Is what you see what you get?
As Above, So Below.
Divinity said, "All things work together for good." (Romans 8:28)
Let's enjoy the best of both worlds!