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Mark Atwood
Signalling, Corporate Branding, and Dress
Because of my participation in an art project at Burning Man last year, I own a tiny piece of art. Everyone who was part of a transit related art project received one. Many people who have one, including myself, wear it as a necklace medallion.

It looks like this:
Black Rock City Transit Authority token

Today, while I was ordering my tea, the barista noticed it, asked if it was about Burning Man. We immediately started talking about the the playa, the experience, who do we camp with, and so forth. She hadn't known there were so many Seattle local weekly and monthly Burner events. Now she does, and knows which mailing lists to sign up on.

One of the most important purposes of clothes and adornment is to identify ourselves to the people who know how to read the signals. One of the problems with corporate brands parasitizing that communication channel is that it tends to choke out other, more useful and interesting, signal. IMO, that's the main problem with corporate consumerism branding in general

One of the great things about Burner culture is it's rejection and avoidance of corporate brands. The Burner cultural "brands" are also powerful, but they are actually directly for signaling interest and identity, instead of trying to sell something.

I don't have a point here, other than musing about this.

This entry was originally posted at http://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/843650.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Current Location: Metrix Create Space, Seattle WA
Current Music: Summer Overture by Kronos Quartet

5 comments or Leave a comment
seawasp From: seawasp Date: March 22nd, 2011 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting thoughts. I myself have absolutely NO "branding" that I wear on a regular basis. I sometimes wear "IEM" shirts when I'm working at IEM, and I have a few "stupid saying" shirts and picture shirts, but other than that, nothing at all.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: March 22nd, 2011 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I flat guarantee that what you wear says things about you, and identifies you ingroup and outgroup for various groups.

It doesn't have to just have corporate logos and words to do that.

seawasp From: seawasp Date: March 22nd, 2011 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Possibly, but you were not describing simple daily clothing but symbols chosen to be worn OUTSIDE of whatever dailywear was -- specifically, a necklace medallion, and corporate branding.

There are an awful lot of people who wear roughly what I wear that I would consider not in my ingroup, and I would doubt they consider me in theirs.

Of course, I differentate clothes in a total of 5 categories, I think, so my "taggging" may be invisible to me: "ew" (something physically offensive, as in so unwashed or dirty that it's actually repellent), bluejean/work clothes, office stuff, suits, and "the rest". I know people who regularly wear the last four (and the first one anyone who works at heavy physical labor, especially in things like "Dirty Jobs" can end up in) and consider them in my ingroup.
mauser From: mauser Date: March 22nd, 2011 10:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Culture is like an Amoeba, it engulfs and absorbs anything new and novel people use to try to break themselves away from it. (I thought of that metaphor LONG before the Borg came around).

Back in the 80's I knew Punk as a movement was Dead when I overheard a couple of mall rats (Delaware Valley Girls) talking about the cheap spiked wristband one had bought at Zipperhead and her friends said it was "So Punk!"
mangosteen From: mangosteen Date: June 9th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
One small point of irony, here....

The Transit token pictured above is directly patterned after a specific vintage of NYC subway token. So, not only a big brand, but a gigantic "government brand."
5 comments or Leave a comment