This week in high school programs, our youth are working on the development of their own personal brands. We begin the workshop by running a game of Slogan Jeopardy in which we break the youth into two groups and have them compete to see who can most quickly identify famous slogans. So far it’s been a hoot, primarily because all the kids have gotten so into competing with one another. The slogans range from those that are ubiquitous in American culture (think of a particular golden double arc) to those that have fallen somewhat to the wayside like M&M’s “The candy that melts in your mouth, not your hands;” when we get to one they recognize, it’s almost mind-blowing how loudly they’ll shout out the name of a camera company or fast-food chain. This volume is part of the reason I designed this workshop: to show how loudly the ambient music of advertising is playing in our heads at all time. When they are in the room together and hear how quickly everyone shouts out “Like a good neighbor, Statefarm is there!” it really can be moment of realization.
After we’ve finished the game and discussed some of the finer points of what one’s brand should really attempt to convey to audiences, youth have attempted to consider themselves within the context of those ideas. At first, it seems like our youth are often somewhat uninterested because they haven’t fully considered how important it is even for individuals to have a brand. Upon talking to mentors and finding inspiration from some of their favorite artists or creative individuals, however, they have quickly understood how important marketing one’s self is regardless of what that person wants to do. From musicians to artists, from nurses to running for president, I’m so glad to see that this workshop has helped our youth consider the importance of maintaining one’s brand and how the world around us, ultimately, serves as a huge stage for one to constantly be acting and creating.