On brands

A Reading Note

This has all been said before, but it bears repeating:

In the kinds of towns de Tocqueville visited, human relationships dominated the local economy. If you needed oats, you’d go buy them from the general store—just one step removed from the mill—or maybe even from the miller himself. If the oats were bad, you’d know where to find the man responsible. You knew his face and his wife’s. His kids might have gone to school with your kids.…You were more than each other’s customers; you were interdependent members of a community.

The Industrial Age brought factories capable of making oats faster and cheaper than the local miller could have ever imagined.…So, now instead of buying oats from a human being you knew, you’d get them from a big factory several hundred or several thousand miles away. It would come in an impersonal big brown box. There was no miller to be seen.

The brand was developed to substitute for the relationship you used to have with the miller. Instead of seeing his face over an open barrel at the mill or the general store, you’d see the face of a Quaker on a box of factory-made oats…[and] who doesn’t feel good about Quakers? They are dedicated to exactly the kind of town meetings and local sharing that a national oats company would seek to replace.

Rushkoff, Life Inc., page 98

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Life Inc.

Douglass Rushkoff

A passionate, well-written text that argues that our centralized currency system is the key to the corporatism that has infected not only our government but our daily lives.