Branding

Creating a brand seems to be the essence of making a success. The banks that nearly failed were saying that you can’t live without us, mostly because we are already here and you know us. Hosni Mubarak is saying the same thing. That is also true with processed foods and political parties. We find comfort in brands which offer a continuity. I happen to really like Will Shortz’s crossword puzzles and spend $2 on the NY Times everyday to do them.

English 18th century furniture was not branded as we might know it although Thomas Chippendale changed all that when he published the first edition of his “Director” in 1754. But the concept of patronage was different then and being the go to cabinetmaker for an oligarch who paid his bills every three years was no picnic. And yet by the end of the 18th century, the burgeoning middle class had largely changed that as the middle class paid their bills more readily. Debtors prison was a reality.

Contemporary branding of English antique furniture is something else altogether. Very few people who run small businesses in boutique marketplaces are able to control their own branding as it is essentially fragile and easily undone by rumor and innuendo. Furthermore, the inventory is always unique. To critique any of the antique businesses I know would take someone both knowledgeable in furniture and in the market. There aren’t too many people like that save for other dealers. Ergo, branding yourself almost always comes out as a negative about other members of the trade.

Do I need Will Shortz’s puzzles? No, I don’t really. There are other puzzlers out there who do very interesting puzzles and at times, I find his puzzles sort of aggravating. The same is true about political parties, processed foods, banks and quite obviously Mubarak. So why do we allow ourselves the complacency of believing there is only one way we should be doing something? I readily admit that I fall into the trap as easily as the rest of the world. Sometimes, we are all a little blind.

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