Brands bestow Identity

'Like the battered child, the battered woman gets a powerful feeling of overwhelming relief when an incident ends. She becomes addicted to that feeling. The abuser is the only person who can deliver moments of peace, by being his better self for a while. Thus the abuser holds the key to the abused person's feeling of well being. The abuser delivers the high highs that delivers the low lows, and the worse the bad times get, the better the good times are in contrast. All of this is in addition to the fact that the a battered woman is shell shocked enough to believe that each horrible incident may be the last.'

That's Gavin De Becker writing about why women choose to be in abusive relationships in his must-read book, 'The Gift of Fear'. A little of what I quoted would help people understand why Rihanna chose to stay with Chris Brown and why they are now even rumored to have tied the knot.

Much of what we know about abuse can help us draw some parallels when it comes 'addictive consumption'. The 'danger' is as much real. In fact the power that brands wield is also about the power of 'identity' they bestow on a consumer. Look at it this way. Many of us want to convey who we are, to the rest of world. We use many tools to get that message across. The one that we rely most on to communicate our identity are brands that we sport. Brands that we consume help us fulfill our need for an identity. The cut-off denim is about communicating rebellion. Of course that's why its the youth that take to it. The problem is when the brand starts to take center stage. That is, when the consumer becomes so dependent, (just as in abuse) he longs for it, to the extent, without it, he can't 'form' his own person. He is lost, identity-less. Just as the abuser is the one who can deliver moments of peace, brands are the only ones that can help the consumer escape his life sans an identity. In fact, the brand then becomes the identity.

The power that brands wield in helping us live a psychologically fulfilled life is enormous. And that's where the danger lies. Get too addicted to it, and you will actively seek it for establishing your identity. Brand addicted consumers must be helped to realise that their self-worth does not flow from the brands they sport but from the character they possess.

Easier said, than done!


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